Tenor Brian Jagde’s Four Favorite Interpreters of ‘Tosca’s’ Cavaradossi

By Francisco Salazar

Brian Jagde is one of today’s rising stars in the opera world and his powerful tenor has obtained raves. Today he is in high demand around the world and one of the roles that he has garnered him attention is that of Cavaradossi. Currently starring in San Francisco Opera’s new production of “Tosca,” Jagde will break the record this season as having performed the role of Cavaradossi more than any tenor in the history of the company.

“I’m still in awe about the fact that after this run of ‘Tosca’ at San Francisco Opera, I will have sung the role of Cavaradossi more than any tenor in the Company’s history,” the tenor told OperaWire in a recent conversation regarding his feat. “Singing a role in multiple seasons isn’t nearly as common as it used to be, especially in America, so this is really an honor for me.”

His first run of the famed Puccini opera was under the baton of Nicola Luisotti, who he notes “has been a great partner and collaborator for my principal role debuts in San Francisco, most recently Calaf in ‘Turandot.'”

In anticipation of this memorable feat, the tenor listed off his four favorite tenors in the role. He also selected recordings that he feels exemplify why they are so strong in this particular opera.

“These men sang the role on the world’s greatest stages and really made it their own,” he noted. “All of these artists inspire me in so many ways, especially in this role and their individual approaches.” 

Franco Corelli

“Franco really put his own stamp on this role. One can tell in listening to this recording that he not only had a strong intention with his choices, but that he had many interesting options to choose from in his artistic palette. It was an extremely virile sound with lots of power, but it’s also in the touching and sensitive moments that you can truly appreciate his way of interpreting the words while using such a massive instrument. Below is one audio recording of the complete opera that’s still available, but there are several excerpts from this recording including an incredible version of ‘E lucevan le stelle’ with a diminuendo that audiences hadn’t heard before. Lots to love in this one.”

Audio Recording: Tosca with the Teatro Regio di Parma & Giuseppe Morelli, conductor

 “E lucevan le stelle” 

Yes, this is also *that* “Tosca” recording with the epic “Vittoria, Vittoria!”

Plácido Domingo

“Out of all of these gentlemen, this is the only one I’ve had the luxury of hearing in live performance, and I have also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him. I’ve had time to speak with Plácido about roles and interpretations in the past since I was lucky enough to be a prize winner in his Operalia Competition back in 2012. Maestro Domingo has such a sincere color in his sound. There’s something that’s always endearing when one listens to him interpret any piece, especially one like ‘Tosca.’ When I listen to him or watch him, it’s less about the specific choices in each moment and more about the sympathy you can automatically feel for his character at any moment, whether happy or sad, especially in this role. He has a special way of connecting with all of us in the audience, even on a recording, including the video staged in Rome. Plácido is a record-breaker himself, so for me to be achieving this one in San Francisco is truly an honor.”

Video Recording: “Tosca” in Rome with the Symphony Orchestra of Rome RAI & Zubin Mehta, conductor

The Met Opera audience clearly loved his “E lucevan le stelle” – tons of passion in this performance. 

Giuseppe Giacomini

“Out of all of these tenors, I’d say that Giacomini is the singer whose technique is at least in some derivative a part of my own. My teacher learned some of the technique from one of Giacomini’s teachers and applied that to his own interpretation of the technique which I am lucky to use today. For me, Giacomini has the most beautiful legato. There’s always a line and connection to the support to form that line. The colors that Giacomini was able to achieve when he sang were warm and recordings (from what I’ve been told) don’t completely do him justice because they sound darker than what he actually sounded like live. On top of that rich sound, there was also a very strong squillo, an incredible ring in the house. In addition to his Cavaradossi recordings, there’s also a video of him on YouTube singing the aria from ‘La forza del destino’ at the Arena di Verona that I love. I have trouble finding someone better from anyone on that aria, whether recorded in a studio or live as that video was. I’ll also be taking that inspiration with me to Paris next year!”

Audio Recording: Tosca with The Philadelphia Orchestra & Riccardo Muti, conductor

Great video of him singing “Recondita Armonia” in concert. Legato for days. 

Richard Tucker

“As a New Yorker, I’m proud to say that Richard Tucker is on this list and he without a doubt influences me to think about interpretation in everything I do. There’s a clean, pure sound in the voice with Tucker. The other gentlemen have a rounder overall sound and with Tucker, there’s an edge as sharp as a knife that is extremely exciting. The energy that he puts into each phrase, into each word, is undeniably something that always makes a listener sit up in their seat and say, ‘Yes!!!'” 

Recording: “Tosca” with The Metropolitan Opera & Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor

Love this TV appearance from 1958 with him singing “E lucevan” – sincere emotion in a simple setting. I wish more of these TV performances were still happening, it was a great way to introduce people to the art form. 


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