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Marc Bridle
MusicWeb International, May 2018

I think there is a general consensus that both Callas and Gobbi are beyond their best—but it matters not the slightest. Kristine Opolais views this as the greatest Tosca she has ever seen and go beyond the individual criticisms of the singing and focus on the bigger picture and it’s difficult not to reach the same conclusion. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Marc Bridle
Opera Today, April 2018

This disc might well be worth the price alone just to see the film of Act II, still rather grainy, but sounding rather better than I have heard it before, because it is just such an extraordinary artistic achievement. The Zeffirelli/Callas/Gobbi Tosca is, like Schnabel’s Beethoven or Gericault’s Raft of Medusa, imperfection in art raised to the level of genius.

Callas’s voice, even in her prime in the early 1950s, was never particularly prone to beauty, but she was often mercurial—and she totally absorbs the role of Tosca. There is no denying that there is unevenness at the very top of the register but, as Jürgen Kesting points out in the documentary about this legendary production, Callas spends much of Act II “permanently screaming her lungs out”. “Doing that with calm reason, or cold precision, requires extraordinary self-control”, Kesting adds, and this is the apotheosis of Callas’s Tosca. Callas’s darker voice, the steadiness of her mid-tones and lower register, the deeper psychological impact her singing conveys, the humanity that is a hallmark of her vocal complexion, the brilliance of the coloratura, makes her Tosca more haunting than is usual. © 2018 Opera Today Read complete review

Bruce Surtees
The WholeNote, April 2018

Finally, a Blu-ray video centred on the only surviving footage of a Maria Callas operatic performance. Callas Magic Moments of Music – Tosca 1964, A Film by Holger Preusse. After a two-year hiatus she returned in the second act of Tosca at Covent Garden in 1964. The set was designed expressly for the occasion by Franco Zeffirelli. Her Scarpia was Tito Gobbi, who sang this role in the still-outstanding 1953 recording from Milan under Victor de Sabata. Gobbi was Callas’ close friend and admirer who wrote that “with Maria it was not performing but living.” Gobbi is Scarpia, from head to toe the grand personification of evil and lust. Together with pertinent interviews and comments by Antonio Pappano, Rolando Villazón, Thomas Hampson and others, this is an absorbing release. © 2018 The WholeNote

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