The Metropolitan Opera is to be commended for releasing recordings of its legendary Saturday afternoon broadcasts. The mono sound of this April 7, 1962, performance of Tosca is less than ideal -- less clean, clear, and present than a studio recording would be, and there is noticeable stage and audience noise -- but the quality and excitement of the performance (vigorously affirmed by the audience's obstreperous applause and shouting) make it easy to forget the shortcomings of the sound. With an all-star cast featuring Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, and Cornell MacNeil, this Tosca is memorable for the fiery intensity of both its old-fashioned soaring vocalism and its surging drama. The principals are in excellent form and are powerfully invested in their characters. Corelli's bel canto lyricism makes for a passionate, romantically charged Cavaradossi. MacNeil brings plenty of vocal potency and menace to Scarpia. Price's colorful voice, acute characterization, and sheer dramatic presence make her Tosca indelible; her revulsion and almost baritonal timbre as she spits out "Muori!" over the dying Scarpia are unforgettable. Kurt Adler conducts with exceptional energy and the music unfolds with natural, inexorable momentum. He is also attuned to the fluidity and rhythmic suppleness the score requires, and the orchestra responds beautifully. The supporting cast is all very fine. This strong performance should interest anyone who loves the opera and would make a good introduction to the opera for any listener who doesn't demand perfect audio quality.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2