Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Jane Eaglen sings Tosca
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Jane Eaglen (soprano) Tosca; Dennis O'Neill (tenor) Cavaradossi; Gregory Yurisich (baritone) Scarpia; Andrew Shore (baritone) Sacristan; Jon Daszak (tenor) Spoletta; Christopher Booth-Jones (baritone) Sciarrone; Ashley Holland (baritone) Gaoler; Geoffrey Mitchell Choir; Peter Kay Children's Choir; Philharmonia Orchestra/David Parry.
Chandos Opera in English CHAN3066 [DDD] [60'14] mid-price
  AmazonUK   AmazonUS  Amazon recommendations

Tosca (sung in English) - Mario! Mario! gli occhi Mario!; Non la sospiri; Ah, quegli occhi; Or tutto e chiaro; Sale, ascende l'uman cantico; Ed or fra noi parliao; Orsu, Tosca, parlate; Floria! amore!; Quanto? Quanto? Ö Gia, mi decon venal; Vissi d'arte; E qual via scegliete?; 'Ah! Franchigia a Floria Tosca Ö ; O dolci mani; Come e lunga l'attesa!.

The cover picture leaves one in no doubt that the purpose of this disc is to showcase the talents of the impressive soprano Jane Eaglen: so much so, in fact, that everybody else (Cavaradossi included) become supporting players. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, given Eaglen's persuasive account of the title role.

Originally issued in 1996 (on CHAN3000), this English language Tosca provides an intensely dramatic experience. The translation itself is remarkably successful, although Chandos choose only to give English translations in their track listings (I have retained their order in the above title so that one can match these to the Italian originals). Although the occasional clumsy translation occurs, this is very much the exception rather than the rule.

Eaglen's portrayal, fittingly, takes in the complete range of emotions, from the opening Mario! Mario! (where she goes all out) to the touching legato of Vissi d'arte (here 'Life has taught me'). The moment of Scarpia's murder is perhaps the only major disappointment: her delivery of the line 'That was the kiss of Tosca' needs more of a spine-chilling delivery (à la Callas, in her 1953 recording on EMI CDS5 56304-2).

Dennis O'Neill makes for an intensely musical Cavaradossi, shading his contributions to Non la sospiri well and delivering Ah, quegli occhi effectively. Between them, Eaglen and O'Neill manage their unaccompanied octave passage in Act Three better than most (it was brave of Puccini to expect so much, given the canal-like width of most opera singers' vibrato).

Of the 'supporting' parts, only Gregory Yurisich's Scarpia is under-projected. At all times, one is aware of the care that David Parry has put into the preparation of the orchestral balance and, especially, dramatic pacing: the torture scene in Act Two works so well because of Parry's innate feeling for dramatic movement. For this reason alone one could recommend this disc as a rewarding purchase. Parry seems to be able to get the best out of his players and singers (although I imagine Jane Eaglen needed little prompting). There is real power from the Philharmonia Orchestra, faithfully reproduced by Chandos' excellent recording.

Colin Clarke

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
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.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers:
Amazon recommendations