Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan with Riccardo Muti
TDK 10 5008 9 DV-OPTOS
With so many Toscas on show at the moment a DVD release should do well - and this is certainly a very fine recording. Maria Guleghina has the flair and aplomb as well as the voice for Tosca, without any silly mannerisms. Salvatore Licitra is just about convincing visually as Cavaradossi and sings heroically enough to make us forget any moments of woodeness in his acting. Leo Nucci is a superbly creepy Scarpia - a real sadist who enjoys everything he does - and sings divinely. There are no weaknesses in the smaller parts and chorus and orchestra under Riccardo Muti are splendid throughout.
While Luca Ronconi's stage direction is conventional enough Margherita Palli's set design is most impressive. Huge chunks of baroque architecture appear to have been distorted and twisted out of perspective. It is as if the world itself had been tortured and all the beauty of the baroque contorted under the pressure of an evil raceme. A splendid image which goes a long way to distinguish the production. And yes there is an organ at the end of act one. La Scala has its own instrument, though I suspect not many opera houses these days still do! BH