(…) Puccini's Tosca does not belong to the chapter of rarities, since it is one of the most popular and frequently played music dramas in the literature and is also a permanent repertoire piece at the Opera House – but the Music Academy was pleasantly filled for a concert hall performance. Besides the attraction of the work itself, the interest of the audience was motivated by the appearance of famous foreign guest artists: Nina Stemme in the title role, Boiko Zvetanov as the painter, and Igor Morozov as Scarpia. The National Philharmonic's opera evening took wings in superb form, conducted by Zsolt Hamar whose career is on a steeply upward curve. The instrumental players honoured the heightened expectations with a dazzling performance, led by their conductor, who self-confidently realised his sovereign concepts, and communicated superbly with his partners. Hamar is a remarkable talent and a colourful, fascinating personality. His has imagination for the modelling of Puccini's passionate heroes, sensitivity towards the transparent orchestral textures, and the technique for the chamber music subtleties of the score. I loved the way that he sounded the Rome's dawn bells from different points within the auditorium: it created a marvellous illusion, although I could find no explanation why in the small scene of the ministrants, the members of the National Choir also participated, thus edging out the colourful resonance of the Opera House children's choir. The orchestra sounded marvellous, and besides the brilliance of the brass section, I must give special mention to the silken light of István Varga's clarinet, and János Bálint's unmistakable flute sonority. The stars of the concert though were the soloists who gave performances worthy of this starry occasion: Stemme carried all before her with her dark toned, perfectly cultured dramatic soprano and the aura of her artistic ego. Morozov is an old acquaintance, and still preserves intact his international qualities: today he remains an imposing heroic baritone, while the Bulgarian Zevtanov showed us his triumphant top notes. Frantic applause and a vocal ovation showed the public's acknowledgement for this gala standard opera evening.
(Magyar Nemzet, May 28th 2002.)