V2635. CESARE VALLETTI, w.Lowell Farr (Pf.): Songs by Caccini, Paisiello, Hahn, Donaudy, Obradors & Quilter; Arias from Don Giovanni, L'Elisir d'Amore & Le Villi. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1037, Live Performance, 15 Dec., 1965, Statler Hilton Ballroom, Boston. [Redolent of a bygone era, the white-gloved ladies adored Valletti singing for them prior to their luncheon at the Statler Hilton Ballroom!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Cesare Valletti was the most elegant and versatile tenore di grazia of his time; Italy has produced nothing like him since his short career ended. He started in the late ‘40s, came to the Met in 1953, and left in 1960 after a dispute with Rudolf Bing….[he] refused all offers to come back to the Met….Valletti sings fluently in Italian, French, German, Spanish, and English. He was regarded an exemplary French stylist in his time, but his perfect English is even more surprising.”
- Ralph V. Lucano, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2008
"The leading operatic tenore di grazia of the 1950s and '60s, Cesare Valletti was also an incomparable interpreter of songs. And not just the limiting light material Italian opera singers of his generation usually programmed on those rare occasions when they did appear on the recital stage. Valletti sang it all – German Lied, French mélodie, and Italian canzone, as well as songs by Spanish, English, Russian, Scandinavian and American composers. A few years after his Metropolitan Opera début in 1953, Valletti followed up his successes on the operatic stage with a series of concerts in New York’s Town Hall, at that time the most distinguished venue in the city for serious recitalists, and astonished New York music critics could scarcely believe their ears. Here was an Italian tenor renowned for his elegant Don Ottavio, Count Almaviva, and many other heroes from the Mozart - Rossini-Donizetti - Bellini repertoire, yet one who also sang the entire spectrum of the song literature as if to the manner born. The Town Hall recitals of 1959 and 1960 were recorded by RCA, which issued most of the two programmes on a pair of LPs. The discs were immediately seized upon as collectors’ items, becoming even more treasured and eagerly sought for when they went out of print. What first attracted listeners to Valletti’s singing was the distinctive and attractive texture of the voice itself. Its lean, perfectly focused timbre may lack the honeyed sweetness of, say, Tito Schipa or Ferruccio Tagliavini, two of Valletti’s most distinguished predecessors in his vocal category, and the tone could thin out in the very top register when put under pressure, but there are plenty of vocal virtues to admire here: the clean attack, pure vowel sounds, a purling legato, seamless register alignment, fabulous diction, and a pianissimo without resort to falsetto. Valletti also possessed an easy agility available to few other Italian tenors who sang the bel canto repertoire in those days, as well as an unerring ear that could pitch the notes of a tricky Hugo Wolf song with absolute precision. His voice had an appealingly plangent tang that gave his sound its individuality, along with a touch of poignant vulnerability that graced both his song interpretations and the portrayals of the heartsick young operatic heroes that were his speciality. All these good things are enhanced by Valletti’s patrician musicianship and impeccable taste, energised by an extraordinarily expressive vitality, masterly control of every musical situation, and a lively engagement with the composer that animates every measure."
- Peter G. Davis
“Cesare Valletti…was a phenomenon among Italian tenors, an opera singer who was also a stylish recitalist with a large, well studied repertoire of songs as is shown very convincingly….Valletti was a pupil of Tito Schipa but has more affinity with Schipa’s contemporary Dino Borgioli.”
- John Steane, GRAMOPHONE, June, 2008
"Although Valletti was a student of Tito Schipa (from whom he undoubtedly learnt some of the graces of production and interpretation), he was in some aspects a counterpart to his coach. Valletti’s was a light but flexible tenor voice of Italianate lyricism and a rare beauty of tone. His timbre was not as ‘sweet’ as that of Tito Schipa, Ferruccio Tagliavini or Beniamino Gigli, but he was the most accomplished technician of them all."
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile