OP2073. TOSCA, Live Performance, 21 Oct., 1959, Livorno, w.Parenti Cond. Teatro la Gran Guardia Ensemble;
Renata Tebaldi, Franco Corelli, Anselmo Colzani, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0311. [Please note the following caveat sent to us by a valued collector who bought this issue: 'Granted Tebaldi and Corelli are very good, Colzani is fair...but that annoying prompter ruins the entire disc'.] - 4035122653113
“In addition to the timbre itself, Tebaldi had an innate feel for how this music should go, for the ebb and flow of every phrase. She also was a mistress of dynamic range. Yes, she could (and did) float glorious pianissimi and she could open up with a full throated fortissimo that remained full-bodied. But where she differed from so many is in all the dynamics in between the two extremes. This allowed her to characterize the music with dynamic variety, rather than Callas-like specificity of inflection. Of course Callas’ Tosca remains an extraordinary musical-dramatic experience, but one should not fall into the trap of believing received wisdom that Tebaldi was not an effective actress. Tebaldi sang with genuine dramatic involvement and with a sincerity that always moved an audience. In my experience, no soprano (not even Callas) could break your heart the way Tebaldi di at ‘Dio mi perdona. Egli vede ch’io piange’ (‘God will forgive me. He’ll see that I am crying’). This is Tosca’s response to Scarpia’s hypocritical ‘In chiesa - after Tosca’s outburst in the first act....Tebaldi begins her response with a heartbreaking pianissimo, and a crescendo starting on ‘vede’ that explodes on ‘piango’.” It will tear your gut out.
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.
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
"Franco Corelli had been singing for well over a decade when he made his Met debut in 1961 at the age of 40. The first attraction in any Corelli performance is the voice itself. Solid and evenly produced from bottom to top, with no audible seams between registers. The middle and lower parts of the voice are dark and richly colored. The top is stunningly brilliant, and never thins out or turns hard. It is a once-in-a-generation kind of voice if your generation is lucky, and in the four decades since his retirement in 1976 we have had nothing like it for visceral power. Some critics complained because Corelli would hold high notes well beyond their value in the score. But if we listen to singers from the past whose careers overlapped with the great Italian opera composers, and who often worked with them, we can easily conclude that the composers expected it. (A recording of an aria from Francesco Cilea's ADRIANA LECOUVREUR by tenor Fernando de Lucia, with the composer accompanying at the piano, exposes liberties that go far beyond anything Corelli ever did, and Cilea echoes those 'distortions' at the keyboard.)"
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
"[Colzani] may never have quite entered the pantheon of great Italian baritones, but Anselmo Colzani was never that far off. He also had to contend with an era in which the likes of Tito Gobbi, Ettore Bastianini and Giuseppe Taddei bestrode the world’s opera stages….He was in demand internationally too, making his Metropolitan Opera début in 1960, where he played Simon Boccanegra. There was a great deal of pressure on the new arrival, as the Met’s favourite baritone, Leonard Warren, had died weeks before. If Colzani never became the next Warren, he did become a Met regular. He sang 272 performances there over the next 16 seasons."
- James Inverne, GRAMOPHONE, June, 2006