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The Wall St. Journal, somewhat inscrutably, has published a review of EMI’s 1953 recording of Tosca, starring Giuseppe di Stefano and Tito Gobbi, with Victor de Sabata conducting.

And, of course, the young Maria Callas as Floria Tosca, slightly before this…iconic…picture was taken in Chicago in 1956. The recording is still available on Amazon.

Opera buffs of a certain age tend to become quite heated when discussing Callas’ voice, with some marveling at her Jackie-O-in-Camelot looks and acting and others disparaging her “tinny” voice. Perhaps one had to be there, but Callas does not provoke an extreme reaction (in either direction) from the proprietor of A Superfluous Man.

For those interested in wading into the debates over Callas’ legacy, please consider the following performances of Vissi d’arte. I think that the Reader will find that what shines through is Puccini: our culture is endowed with a major embarrassment of riches when it comes to fine recordings of superb divas, any one of whom is sufficient to do the aria justice.

First, la Divina Callas:

Monserrat Caballé (spliced with an interview of the Spanish soprano on Callas, her friend and mentor):

Renée Fleming, the prima donna inter pares of today’s opera scene:

A Superfluous Man‘s personal favorite, Angela Gheorghiu:

On second thought, the laurel goes to Leontyne Price: