V2163. GIUSEPPE TADDEI: The Darling of Italy, incl. Arias & Duets (w.Carteri, Cebotari, Seefried, Schwarzkopf, Moffo, Tagliavini, Alva, Infantino, Gedda, Wächter, Corena, Siepi, etc.) from Don Giovanni, Nozze, Zauberflöte, Barbiere, Guglielmo Tell, L’Elisir, Gianni Schicchi, Andrea Chénier, La Boheme, Fanciulla, Otello, Falstaff, L’Africana, Le Roi de Lahore, Hérodiade & Tannhäuser; w.Questa Cond. RAI Ensemble, Torino; Giuseppe Taddei, Lina Pagliughi, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Giulio Neri, etc.: RIGOLETTO, recorded 1954. (E.U. 4-Membran 233350, recorded 1949-59, partially Live Performances. - 885150333501
“Giuseppe Taddei was a distinguished Italian baritone who made his Metropolitan Opera début to glowing notices in 1985 at the astonishing age of 69. Born in Genoa on 26 June, 1916, Mr. Taddei made his operatic début in 1936, as the Herald in a production of Wagner’s LOHENGRIN in Rome. In the decades that followed he performed on many of the great opera stages of Europe, including those of the Vienna State Opera, La Scala and Covent Garden. In the 1950s, Mr. Taddei appeared in the United States with the San Francisco and Dallas Civic Operas; he was also long known to listeners here through his many recordings. In the 1960s, he sang in New York in concert performances. But until 25 Sept., 1985, when he stepped onto the stage at Lincoln Center in the title role of Verdi’s FALSTAFF, Mr. Taddei had never sung at the Met. At his curtain call, THE NEW YORK TIMES reported, Mr. Taddei received ‘a rafter-shaking ovation’.
Opera exacts a great toll on the voice. Singers often retire in their 50's, at least from weightier fare. Appearing at a major opera house in one’s late 60s is highly unusual; making a début at that age, breathtakingly so. To do so to the kind of rapturous reviews Mr. Taddei received is almost beyond contemplation. What apparently stood Mr. Taddei in good stead was the Italian bel canto tradition — the lighter, less forceful style of singing in which he had been trained — which can let its practitioners extend their careers beyond the usual retirement age. In all, Mr. Taddei performed with the Met 21 times. Besides Falstaff, which he sang in 1985 and 1986, he appeared as Dr. Dulcamara in L’ELISIR D’AMORE in 1988.
Reviewing Mr. Taddei’s Met début in The Times, Donal Henahan wrote: ‘His Falstaff, not only wittily acted and fully formed, was astonishingly well sung. The voice is not exactly plummy these days, but it retains a wonderfully liquid quality in lyric passages’.
If Mr. Taddei could sing like that at 69, then why had the Met not signed him in even plummier days? As Mr. Taddei explained in a 1985 interview with The Times, the reasons centered on diplomacy, or rather what he saw as the lack of it. In 1951, he said, Rudolf Bing, then the Met’s general manager, asked him to audition. That did not sit well with Mr. Taddei, who was already a star in Europe. He declined Mr. Bing’s request. In 1958, Mr. Taddei said the Met tried to engage him again, at $600 a week. That did not sit well with Mr. Taddei, who asked for more money. The Met declined his request. A quarter-century went by. Then, in the early 1980s, after Mr. Taddei sang a well-received Falstaff at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Mr. Levine, the Met’s music director, approached him. He offered Mr. Taddei the part of Fra Melitone in Verdi’s FORZA DEL DESTINO — a role typically billed sixth from the top. That did not sit well with Mr. Taddei . As he told THE TIMES, ‘I said thank you, but coming for the very first time, I think I should come as protagonista’. And thus, as Falstaff, Mr. Taddei went onstage a world-renowned singer and came back a star.”
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 June, 2010
“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