Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Say It Ain't So!

Over at SF Gate, Joshua Kosman has his annual San Francisco Opera season study guide up. I'm a partisan of the Kempe Lohengrin (and of a pair of Bayreuth performances, Steber/Windgassen/Varnay/Uhde and Grummer/Konya/Gorr/Blanc), and Solti is never my first choice in Wagner, but whatever.

What dropped my jaw was his second-choice Tosca (I hope I don't need to tell you what his first choice was): Maazel/Nilsson, Corelli, DF-D.

The last time I heard that recording, I thought it was pure party music: Nilsson is certainly accurate (Conrad L. Osborne called hers the best Tosca on record from a purely vocal standpoint), but she is also steely, unidiomatic, and unable to project vulnerability. I remember Corelli as bawling and tasteless, DF-D shouting a lot and rather in over his head. Maazel doesn't add much of distinction to this mix.

I'll have to give the set another shot. Maybe it's better than I thought. But if you're in the market for a Tosca other than the obvious choice, consider von Karajan/Price. The conducting is rather different from de Sabata's on the classic set, and, right, Price doesn't have Callas's dramatic point. Still, plenty to treasure.

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