OP3421. FALSTAFF, Broadcast Performance, 1951, w.Rossi Cond. RAI Ensemble, Roma; Giuseppe Taddei, Saturno Meletti, Emilio Renzi, Anna Maria Rovere, Rosanna Carteri, Lina Pagliughi, Amalia Pini, etc. (Italy) 2-Warner-Fonit 8573 82651. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 0685738265121
“Since Warner Fonit has been issuing the series of operas that Cetra recorded in the early '50s with a stable of Italian singers, I have been giving them a good listen. Note that the latest issues have the original somewhat flamboyant covers that graced the original LPs and quite good mono sound - far better than the ruinous Everest pseudo-stereo LPs.
As for the performances most were recorded live at the RAI studios in one day with no or minimal retakes and therefore have a rough and ready quality to them. Most of the operas have of course been recorded with top flight casts and conductors. But here is something to be said for the idiomatic 'rightness" of these performances. There is a feeling that the singers have worked together, are comfortable with each other and know the scores inside out. The vocalism is often rough but the feelings are sincere and heartfelt and that counts for a lot. The conductors too share that feeling and often seem to be more interested in getting the dramatic points across than orchestral perfection. My own feeling is that the performances go back to a tradition that is now gone. In any case, I recommend most of them since they are are still the only complete commercial recordings).”
- Z. D. Akron
“FALSTAFF was the culmination of Verdi’s long career as an opera composer. Verdi wrote FALSTAFF for his own enjoyment. With FALSTAFF, Verdi’s 28th and final opera, ‘my little enjoyment’ as he called it, was all he could have hoped for. It was a triumph at its premiere at La Scala on 9 February 1893. The greatest Italian composer ever was then 80 years of age. It was a magnificent culmination to a great career.
Giuseppe Taddei, Falstaff in this performance, appears in the eponymous role in a 1951 audio recording issued by Cetra (last available as Warner Fonit 8573 83515-2). In that recording, made in his early thirties his tone is ideally full and fruity and in many ways preferable to the admired interpretation by Gobbi.”
Robert J Farr, musicweb-international
“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
“Rosanna Carteri was born in Verona but was raised in Padua. She studied with Cusinati and started singing in concert at the age of twelve. She won a RAI singing contest in 1948 which led to her operatic début at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome as Elsa in LOHENGRIN in 1949, aged only 19. She made her La Scala début in 1951. Other débuts were at the Salzburg Festival as Desdemona in 1952 under the direction of Wilhelm Furtwängler, San Francisco as Mimi in 1954, the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Marguerite in FAUST in 1955, the Arena di Verona as Mimi in 1958, Covent Garden as Tosca in 1960, Opéra de Paris in 1961 as Violetta.
Carteri made a few recordings for Cetra early in her career, recorded LA TRAVIATA for RCA Victor with Cesare Valletti and Leonard Warren under the direction of Pierre Monteux. She participated in several television productions for RAI.”