Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom




Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Tosca (1900)
Renata Scotto (soprano) – Floria Tosca; Placido Domingo (tenor) – Mario Cavaradossi; Renato Bruson (baritone) – Scarpia; John Cheek (bass) – Cesare Angelotti; Andrea Velis (tenor) – Spoletta; Renato Capecchi (bass) – A Sacristan; Paul Hudson (baritone) – Sciarrone; Dominick Mertinez (treble) – A Shepherd; Itzhak Perlman (bass) – A Jailer
Ambrosian Opera Chorus, St Clement Danes School Boys’ Choir,
Philharmonia Orchestra/James Levine
rec. July and August 1980, Kingsway Hall, London
Full libretto and translation at
[46:08 + 70:11]
Experience Classicsonline

“As a very credible Scarpia he was low-voiced, even honeyed. Renato Bruson – even at an age when Chiefs of Police normally retire – had retained his superb caressing legato, making him a satanic tamer of his subjects. When he wanted to stress his points, to show his powers, his voice was no longer the pliable instrument it once was. The force was there but also a heavy old man’s vibrato that developed to an ugly wobble. It would have been totally unsuitable for a nobler character but for Scarpia it was adequate.”

This quotation is from my review of a DVD live from Bari and published in 2001. Twenty years earlier, when the present EMI set was recorded, there were no misgivings as to the quality of Bruson’s voice. His is plainly the most beautiful singing of the role ever. Whether it is also the best interpretation of the role is another matter. His marvellous legato and smooth delivery has been a constant pleasure to wallow in on a great number of recordings, nowhere more in evidence, I believe, than on his Donizetti recital, once available on Decca in the Grandi Voci series. This is bel canto singing of a kind that hadn’t been heard since the days of the legendary Mattia Battistini. What has been lacking in his singing has been a couple of notes in the lowest register and more variation of tonal colour and for the role as Scarpia this is a serious shortcoming. There is no lack of intensity and vitality and with the visual aspect added his reading of the role would probably have been a highly satisfying portrait of this disgusting Chief of Police, but without the visuals one misses the inflexions and the ‘face’ of some other Scarpias: Tito Gobbi (twice with Maria Callas), Giuseppe Taddei (on Karajan’s first Tosca with Leontyne Price), maybe also the sinister George London (on Tebaldi’s stereo remake) or Ruggero Raimondi (on Karajan’s second Tosca and also on DVD from Verona as recently as 2006, see review). Still Bruson’s is a reading to live with and I far prefer it to exaggerated histrionics and ugly delivery.

It may seem perverse to start a review of Tosca with an assessment of the villain of the drama, but since this reading is the most controversial I wanted to sort it out first of all. Those who can’t imagine a bel canto Scarpia can stop reading here. This set is not for them. James Levine’s conducting has sometimes been controversial too but here he leads a kind of middle-of-the-road performance: rather rough-hewn with tremendous fortissimos in a recording with very wide dynamic contrasts. It is thrilling, no doubt but in a moderately sized listening venue like mine the problem is that if I want to remain on speaking terms with my neighbours I have to turn down the volume several notches from my ordinary setting and then the solo voices become recessed and indistinct. It is possible to adjust the volume with the remote control every so often but this takes away some of the pleasure of listening. In some of the lyrical passages I felt that Levine lost interest and there the reading lacked tension. The playing of the Philharmonia is first class and the Ambrosian Opera Chorus, trained by John McCarthy, are excellent with a grandiose Te Deum as the pinnacle.

Placido Domingo is a brilliant Cavaradossi, who delivers a strong Recondita armonia without many nuances. Later in the first act he is more sensitive in the long scene with Tosca and in the last act he sings an inward E lucevan le stele and caresses O dolci mani. Cavaradossi has been one of his most frequent roles and this is certainly a reliable reading. His Floria Tosca is Renata Scotto and at this stage of her career her voice has lost some of its bloom and she has adopted a rather wide vibrato at forte and above – not unlike Maria Callas’s in fact and her reading is also in the Callas mould, detailed and full of insight. Her Vissi d’arte is restrained and beautiful; here the vibrato is kept well in check.

The supporting roles are excellently cast. John Cheek makes a strong character of Angelotti and his vocal resources are such that he might as well have been singing Scarpia. The veteran Renato Capecchi, almost 60 at the time, is a good Sacristan who avoids too much caricature. That he had retained his magnificent voice is amply demonstrated in the phrase tutta devota e pia. Andrea Velis is a light voiced Spoletta and master violinist Itzhak Perlman is probably the most sonorous gaoler on any recording – a surprising cameo, indeed!

While hardly a first choice this recording has still a great deal to offer. My favourites are still the old Sabata mono recording with Callas and Gobbi and the spectacular Karajan set from around 1960 with Leontyne Price and Giuseppe Taddei. On both sets Giuseppe Di Stefano sings Cavaradossi.

Göran Forsling 




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

August 2022

Louis Caix d'Hervelois

orchestral songs



String Quartets

la folia



July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I





Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.