Tosca for the Ear and the Eye
GIACOMO PUCCINI’S TOSCA ON CD AND DVD
by Corliss Phillabaum
Considering the exceptional popularity of Tosca in opera houses throughout the world, it is not surprising that the opera has been recorded and televised again and again. In my previous survey eight years ago, I discussed twenty-one CD versions and eight versions on VHS tape. In the intervening years, new studio recordings of complete operas have become a rarity, victims of the sweeping technological changes in the entire recording industry. However, despite the lack of new studio versions, the number of available CD editions has actually increased and I have discussed twenty-three in this survey, as recording companies have mined their backlists for reissues and the archives of broadcasting companies and opera houses are beginning to yield a harvest of live performances. On the other hand, the emergence of the technically superior DVD format has greatly expanded the range of choice in video versions. I have considered sixteen versions here, including both recent stage productions and archival recordings from the early days of televised opera. The improved picture quality and large flat screens that are common today have made viewing opera in the home a much more satisfying experience than it was a decade ago.
Any such survey represents the personal response of the author. Based on my response to these performances, I have grouped my recommendations for both the CD and the DVD versions accordingly, and commented on each performance. In each case, my top recommendations are discussed first. Some of these recordings are available at the local outlets of such chains as Barnes and Noble or Borders, and all are currently listed by major online dealers such as Amazon and ArkivMusic. I have not included recordings that are out of print and I have not ventured into the vast grey area of “unofficial” recordings of broadcasts. (If you are looking for a recording with a particular favorite singer who is not included in this survey, an online search may turn up a “pirate” version.)
A hard copy handout of my top recommendations will be available at the Florentine Opera performances of Tosca. As always, I welcome your corrections or comments.
For the Eyes: Giacomo Puccini's Tosca on DVD
For the Ears: Giacomo Puccini's Tosca on CD