OP2930. LOHENGRIN (in Italian), w.Santini Cond. San Carlo Opera Ensemble, Napoli; Gino Penno, Renata Tebaldi, Giangiacomo Guelfi, Giulio Neri, Elena Nicolai, etc. (Italy) 3-Hardy 6010, Live Performance, 26 Dec., 1954. - 8018783601026
“In the early 1950s, Gino Penno became known throughout Italy as a highly competent heldentenor singing Siegfried at the Verona Arena and Lohengrin in Rome. He also partnered Maria Callas in Norma, Macbeth, Il Trovatore, and Medea, in various theatres in Italy
In 1951, his career took an international turn. He appeared at the Paris Opéra, the Liceo in Barcelona, the Monte Carlo Opera, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Royal Opera House in London.
He was very highly thought of both for his musicianship and his reportedly enormous voice, of magnificent quality.
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
“Giulio Neri was a leading Italian bass in the post-WW II period. He had a very powerful, penetrating, but utterly secure voice…. Neri never made it to these shores; I would have walked miles to hear him.”
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2004
“Giangiacomo Guelfi [not to be confused with Carlo Guelfi, a younger baritone] studied at the Centro Lirico in Florence, as well as with legendary Italian baritone Titta Ruffo, and made his opera début in the title role of Verdi's RIGOLETTO in 1950, an exceptionally young age for such a work. He won the Spoleto Experimental Theater Prize and made his La Scala début in 1952 as The Visitor in Castro's PROSERPINA Y EL EXTRANJERO. He made his London début two years later at Drury Lane as Gérard in Giordano's ANDREA CHÉNIER. Though he drew considerable acclaim in a 1957 performance of Verdi's I DUE FOSCARI in Venice, and he was considered a rising star during the late '50s and early '60s, it was not until his 1964 performance of Verdi's MACBETH at La Scala that he was acknowledged as a full-fledged star. He made his Metropolitan début in 1970 as Scarpia. He was particularly admired during his prime for his powerful voice, but like many possessors of such voices, occasionally indulged in bellowing and, toward the end of his career, relied excessively on extra-musical vocal effects.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com