OP0819. TOSCA, Live Performance, 21 Jan., 1955, Napoli, w.Bellezza Cond. Teatro San Carlo Ensemble; Leyla Gencer, Vittorio de Santis, Giuseppe Taddei, etc. (Italy) 2-GOP 66.331. Very Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8012719663317
"When you sing, you have to feel what you are saying.... I actually cried on stage. Once in a while a note would issue forth that was not orthodox. That's why the American critics don't like me. But I don't care. They want music with water and soap."
- Leyla Gencer
“Leyla Gencer was the greatest Turkish opera singer of the 20th century and a singing actor of formidable power and individuality. Although she came from what she herself referred to as a ‘Muslim and oriental’ background, she had the good fortune, as a student in Istanbul, to study with the famous Italian dramatic soprano Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, so that when she went to Italy in 1953, she was thoroughly grounded in the traditions of Italian opera. Gencer was a very beautiful woman, with large dark eyes, a wide, generous mouth and a natural command of the stage. She made her début as Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA at the open-air summer festival in Naples in 1953, and remained a particular favourite with the Neapolitans. Throughout her career, Gencer had a very wide repertoire, ranging from Monteverdi, Gluck and Mozart to Verdi, Ponchielli and Puccini. During her career she sang virtually every soprano rôle in Verdi's operas, but it was especially in the revival of bel-canto works by Bellini, Donizetti and Pacini that she made her mark. To some extent, Gencer shot to fame in the immediate aftermath of the end of Maria Callas' Italian career - Gencer followed Callas as Anna Bolena at La Scala, and in the rôle of Paolina in Donizetti's POLIUTO - the last new part Callas undertook. As Queen Elizabeth I of England, first in Donizetti's ROBERTO DEVEREUX, and then in Rossini's ELISABETTA, REGINA D'INGHILTERRA, Gencer preceded Montserrat Caballé and Beverly Sills, who later recorded the rôles. Although Gencer's career was mostly in Italy, she appeared in the United States, where she made her début in San Francisco as Lucia in 1957, returning there, as well as to Chicago and Dallas. John Ardoin described her voice in a memorable LUCREZIA BORGIA in 1974, as ‘poignant, compelling’ and mentioned the ‘strange colours and deep pathos of her art’. In England she was heard at Glyndebourne as the Countess in FIGARO, and as Anna Bolena. At Covent Garden she was Donna Anna in Zeffirelli's 1962 production of DON GIOVANNI, then Elisabeth de Valois in DON CARLOS. Gencer's most memorable UK appearances were undoubtedly in the title rôle of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1969. The sparks that flew on stage in the confrontation - historically absurd but dramatically thrilling - when Gencer as Mary Stuart ripped off her glove and flung it in the face of Shirley Verrett as Elizabeth I at the words, ‘Vil bastarda’ will surely live in the memory of all who witnessed it. Gencer had no career whatsoever as a recording artist, but many of her broadcasts from Italian radio have now been issued on disc and are a fine memorial to her voice and dramatic ability.”
- Patrick O'Connor, The Guardian, 12 May, 2008
"Taddei is splendid, one of Italy’s greatest baritones, with a voice rich and powerful as well as gorgeous…..What a pity Taddei never had a major career at the Met….His great Verdi singing and acting at age 69 [while at the Met] would put many baritones half his age to shame.”
- Michael Mark, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2012
“There used to be a saying in Italy: ‘We gave the rest of the world Tito Gobbi, but we kept Giuseppe Taddei for ourselves’. Whatever the respective merits of these two baritones who dominated the scene in the early postwar period, Taddei was undoubtedly a superb artist and, in fact, possessed the superior voice. It was voluminous, richly mellifluous and admirably flexible. He handled it with immense intelligence and he kept his vocal faculties intact over a career spanning 50 years. Taddei’s repertory was vast — more than 100 rôles. Having made his rôle début as Falstaff in the late 1940s, he was still singing the rôle under Karajan in Salzburg more than three decades later and at his belated Metropolitan Opera début in 1985. His warm, rounded tone and subtle underlining of notes and text made him an ideal Falstaff, a portrayal that, fortunately, has been preserved on records and video. Few Italian baritones have exhibited the exceptional versatility that was Taddei’s hallmark. Apart from the accomplishments of his singing, he was a stage being through and through, able with a gesture or facial expression to create character and mood. The longevity of his career is evidence enough of the solidity of his technique. Taddei died at his home in Rome, 2 June, 2010.”
- THE SUNDAY TIMES, 5 June, 2010
"Known as a versatile artist effective in dramatic and comic roles…[Taddei] had an ample, warm, and smooth voice and was a very fine vocal actor, delivering the many declamatory passages with excellent diction."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/Aug., 2005