OP2058. MANON LESCAUT, Live Performance, 17 Jan., 1959, w.Cleva Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Renata Tebaldi, Richard Tucker, Frank Guarrera, Fernando Corena, etc., also featuring Milton Cross' broadcast announcements. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00250. - 0801439902503
“The performance was a steady crescendo of intensity, punctuated by heartfelt ovations that must have tested the utmost powers of Mr. Bing's applause-meter. So wrought-up did the audience become, that at the end of Act III, when when Des Grieux rushed up the gangplank to join Manon, people burst into wild cheers of exultation to see the lovers reunited. Not often do opera artists achieve such a high dramatic pitch of intensity as this.
Act I really belongs to the tenor, and Mr. Tucker took full advantage of his opportunities. Never has he sung better. He has retained the heroic, cantorial ring and power of his voice, but he has worked Italianate passion and color into it, and he has vastly improved his piano and pianissimo. Whether in the playful ‘Tra voi, belle, brune e bionde’, or the impassioned ‘Donna non vidi mai simile a questa!’, he poured out the sort of phrases which rouse opera audiences to the pitch of hysteria. His exit with Miss Tebaldi on their tumultuous high A flat was a wonderful example of what makes grand opera grand. But it was in the later acts that the deeper aspects of his art came into play. The poignancy of his ‘Taci, taci tu, it cormi frangi’ and the abandon of the ‘O tentatrice!’ in Act II were superb. I have already praised the torrential sweep of his singing and acting in Act III, and in Act IV both he and Miss Tebaldi brought a very real sense of death and despair home to their audience. Many of us were in tears.
Like Mr. Tucker, Miss Tebaldi has one of those voices that exult in tremendous phrases but can also spin beautiful and delicate ones. Like Mr. Tucker, Miss Tebaldi has one of those voices that exult in tremendous phrases but can also spin beautiful and delicate ones. Her top tones seem a bit harder in quality this season, but she can still make them blaze like lightning, and the lower voice is ravishing as ever. By the time she reached ‘In quelle trine morbide’ she had the audience in the palm of her hand and none of us will forget her performance in Act IV.
Fausto Cleva took fire from the singers (and vice versa) and the result was a splendid performance from the orchestra, which played the Intermezzo between Acts II and III as beautifully as I have ever heard it done.”
- Robert Sabin, MUSICAL AMERICA
“Renata 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
"...for some thirty years, until his sudden death in 1975, Tucker's vocal security, boundless energy, unceasing enthusiasm, and thorough professionalism ensured a level of popularity that necessitated comparisons to some of his greatest predecessors....Tucker sang thrillingly and delivered the goods, communicating his own joy in singing to all who would listen...."
- Marc Mandel, FANFARE, May/June, 1997
“With his slender but firm voice and winning stage presence, Frank Guarrera was a fixture at the Met in a number of roles: Escamillo in CARMEN (his début role in 1948), Marcello in LA BOHÈME, Valentin in FAUST. He also essayed larger, Verdian roles with honor, if not quite the vocal opulence of contemporaries like Robert Merrill, or Leonard Warren, whom he replaced as Simon Boccanegra a few days after Mr. Warren’s death onstage in 1960.
In 1948, when the 24-year-old Mr. Guarrera was participating in the Metropolitan Opera’s ‘Auditions of the Air’ (a precursor of the current National Council Auditions), which he eventually won, Toscanini heard him on the radio singing Ford’s monologue from FALSTAFF and arranged for an audition. The result was Mr. Guarrera’s engagement at La Scala in Boito’s NERONE on the 30th anniversary of Boito’s death. It was the first of several performances under Toscanini; Mr. Guarrera sang Ford on the conductor’s legendary 1950 FALSTAFF broadcasts, still available on CD.
His final role at the Met was Gianni Schicchi, which he last sang in 1976. After his retirement from the stage, he taught at the University of Washington in Seattle for 10 years."
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 27 Nov., 2007