OP0192. LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, Live Performance, 14 June, 1953, Firenze, w.Mitropoulos Cond. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino; Renata Tebaldi, Mario del Monaco, Aldo Protti, Fedora Barbieri, Cesare Siepi, etc. (Germany) 3-Archipel 0126. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 4035122401264
“I heard Tebaldi many times, as a standee at the old Metropolitan Opera House from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s, and I never stopped marveling at the sheer beauty of the voice, her ability to project a pianissimo throughout the auditorium so that even though the note was extraordinarily soft, it sounded as if she were standing right next to you. The plushness of tone was probably the most unique feature of her singing, and along with that an innate sense of the appropriate shape of the phrase she was singing. She was not a subtle actress, never inflecting every phrase with subtexts of meaning the way Callas could, but nor was she a disengaged singer just pouring out lovely sounds. Her acting, both physical and vocal, was sincere and convincing, and at times very powerful. Her Butterfly broke your heart every time, through the moving way she shaped the ebb and flow of the music. There was no way you could see her as a 15 year old geisha, but by the wedding scene of the first act you were a complete believer.
Above all, there was that voice. It was immediately recognizable, distinctive, unlike any other. If you tuned in to a radio broadcast without hearing an announcement, two notes would be enough to identify the richly colored, luxurious sonority of the Tebaldi sound, a sound that caressed the ear and at the same time enveloped you. For many of us it was the sound that defined what an Italian soprano should be.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Renata Tebaldi faced great physical difficulties when she contracted polio at the age of three. Overcoming her disability, she later studied voice at the Arrigo Boito Conservatory in Parma with the great soprano Carmen Melis. Her first public appearance came in 1944 as Elena in Boito's MEFISTOFELE at the Teatro Municipale in Rovigo. That same year she repeated the role in Parma and Venice. Arturo Toscanini heard her and asked her to participate in the reopening of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1946. She also sang the Verdi REQUIEM there that year, as well as Mimì in LA BOHEME and Eva in DIE MEISTERSINGER (in Italian). From 1949 to 1954, she sang frequently at La Scala, but she left over bitter feelings regarding Maria Callas, her only real rival as prima donna of the company. During this time, she also sang regularly in many of the important opera houses in Italy. She was also heard in South America and was a favorite in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. In 1950, she débuted at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden as Desdemona in OTELLO and at the San Francisco Opera as Aïda. She was a regular guest at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1955, she made her Metropolitan Opera début as Desdemona and remained a favorite of the New York public for the next 20 years. She sang most her important roles in New York. These are the same roles that she sang at opera houses in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. Besides her work in opera, Tebaldi appeared in recital and in concerts. Her recital programs consisted primarily of Italian songs and operatic arias.
Tebaldi's voice was a very powerful spinto soprano of great beauty. She was able to sustain a long lyric line with little trouble and in the early years of her career she exhibited good control of florid passages. The extreme top of the range was lovely when singing softly, but tended to lose pitch when sung at full volume. Toscanini considered her voice one of the most beautiful in the twentieth century, and early in her career some critics felt that she was slighting the drama. She went through a vocal crisis in the early 1960s, but returned having restudied her voice and added more dramatic roles such as Gioconda and Minnie in LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST to her repertoire and at the same time becoming a more intense actress. She was very careful about the roles she sang and how often she would sing. Rudolf Bing is quoted saying that ‘Tebaldi has dimples of steel’, a sentiment echoed by many other managers. Her many recordings document the range of repertoire she sang and the great artistry she displayed.”
- Richard LeSueur, allmusic.com
“It was always a given that del Monaco possessed a remarkably powerful, steady voice with unsurpassed brilliance and power. He was, however, often criticized for singing with little finesse, for using his power unrelentingly. That was never true (his many live broadcast recordings give even stronger evidence of his ability to sing with light and shade)….I found myself thrilling to the sheer sound of the voice and to the commitment and passion with which he sang. What will surprise many is the variety of dynamics and color that the tenor did bring to his singing….It is easy for critics to comment on the method of a singer and to forget the most important element—the sound of the voice....His diction was a model of clarity and crispness, his intonation was almost always centered, and his rhythmic pulse was extremely strong. In many cases one listens to this kind of singing and longs for the days gone by when there were singers like this....old-timers...reminisce over one of the great operatic tenor voices to be heard in the 1950s and ‘60s, and younger listeners discover what a great ‘tenore di forza’ sounds like. We have nothing like him today.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE