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Subject: Re: Selva opaca and a favorite Tebaldi recital
From: tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 20 Mar 2017 15:42:06 +0000
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Walter you make some interesting and no doubt correct points, however, I was referring to Price's live performance of Adriana's aria I saw in Florida when she was in her early sixties and other live performances I have seen on You Tube. I would also say that from the late fifties on, Tebaldi's forte high notes were usually not secure or beautiful sounding. No great singer is perfect and one may have their favorite, but you seem to be a Tebaldi fanatic who seems to find No fault with her singing, yet manage to find many faults with other great sopranos, you are not fan of.


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From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of walter guitian <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2017 11:00 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [OPERA-L] Selva opaca and a favorite Tebaldi recital

In the period 1947/1957-58 Tebaldi's technique was excellent. She modulated on top perfectly.Regarding what Tom Ponti says of Price's ending of "Io son l'umile ancella" from her 1965 RCA  recital with Molinari-Pradelli, what was done there is  a work of  the  knobs of the RCA sound technicians, she does not sing a pp,  the sound is lowered volume, of the orchestra and of her voice.Other than that, the notes should last what should last, not what you want. In singing there is something called silence too.  Leontyne Price , her vocal portraits on recordings I find her a darkened lyrical. She have a nice recording of Gilda singing an E''' at the end wich certainly shows her characteristic. Anyway I find her singing sometimes completely false taste. She was not a dramatic voice at all, she  darkened all her career her middle voice. Her bottom is  without focus, and the top disappears, straight. Three completely different voices. That is what I hear after recordings. Not to mention her totally unmusical manners .Why Price high C remained there until the end of her career ? Because she was a "lyrical" or a lyrical soprano. People who do not know do not notice the difference between Leontyne Price and Jessye Norman for example,  Price: a lyrical or lyrical leggero soprano  and Norman a dramatic soprano.Dramatic sopranos (like Traubel, Norman, Ponselle, Flagstad)  or real spinto soprano (like Tebaldi),  Dimitrova for some she is a dramatic, for me she is spinto, Eva Marton etc from a moment in their careers the extreme top of the range will begin to  become more difficult.I have three Dimitrova "live" Aidas, one from Spain 1982, other from Paris 1984 and another one from La Scala 1985 and the C in "O patria mia" is not well sung in any , and even in two of them she misses the note.Of Tebaldi there is one single document of having trouble in that aria, in Paris 1959, she does not crack, she notice the troath is closing and inmediately she cuts the note.One huge difference between Callas and Tebaldi is  Tebaldi sang with a very even production throughout her range.  Like Flagstad and Ponselle.  Callas, even early in her career, sang with three completely separate voices but , as a singer, that is a serious technical  flaw.Callas high notes were always strident, like those of Caballé. Caballé has a gorgeous pp, but the difference  with Tebaldi pp   is Tebaldi are connected to the rest of the voice and the quality very luminous and beautiful, while Caballé pp are in falsetto sometimes., anyway  her pp is gorgeous , but  Caballé’s high notes in forte are strident  and clear, and other times they are quite screechy and harsh,  while Tebaldi's voice does not lose quality when she sing high notes in forte, they are colorful and very beautiful and large.
W.G.
      De: tom ponti <[log in to unmask]>
 Para: [log in to unmask]
 Enviado: Lunes, 20 de marzo, 2017 9:51:18
 Asunto: Re: Selva opaca and a favorite Tebaldi recital

The Tebaldi 1955 performance of Adriana's aria is indeed very beautiful, unfortunately, when thinking of Renata and that aria, I think of her performance of it on a Met broadcast one year. I still happen to prefer Price's ending of the aria. There is no doubt that till about 1960, Tebaldi had one of the greatest beautiful big voices God ever bestowed on any soprano. I do think, however, that singers like: Callas, Caballe, Price, Sutherland, and some others, were technically superior singers.


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From: Discussion of opera and related issues <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2017 1:25 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [OPERA-L] Selva opaca and a favorite Tebaldi recital

The aria has come up in conjunction with the Met “Tell” performances.

On another thread, I think the one about Leontyne Price, mention was made of Tebaldi’s 1955 recording of “Io sono l’umile ancella” from “Adriana Lecouvreur.”

Tying those together.

If I were to compose a short list of great “aria recitals” (arias recorded at a session to be made into an album, rather than excerpted from complete recordings), one of those on my short list would be the one that Tebaldi recorded in Rome with the Santa Cecilia orchestra and Alberto Erede in summer of 1955.

It came out in mono as “Operatic Recital No. 3” (No. 1 was her first set of Decca recordings, a group of arias made in Geneva in 1949, and No. 2 was a collection of excerpts from complete recordings) in the US and  was later issued, in stereo, as “Renata Tebaldi - Stereophonic Recital” in the UK and, in the US, the stereo version dropped the “No. 3” and became just plain “Renata Tebaldi - Operatic Recital.” The stereo version won a grammy.

The singing is so bright, beautiful and lustrous on this recording that I’m surprised it didn’t get taken more seriously in the CD era. To my knowledge, it never was reissued as an intact recital on CD, at least prior to the complete Decca set of all Tebaldi recordings (I never bought that because I already had so much of it). It certainly seemed to me that it should have been one of Decca’s “Classic Recital” series.

It can’t possibly be considered any kind of “concept album” because the only apparent connection between the arias is Tebaldi’s beautiful and spacious singing. We get Mozart’s Countess, followed immediately by Adriana Lecouvreur, snippets of Mascagni’s Lodoletta, Catalani’s Wally (not the popular “Ebben, ne andro lontano” which I wish they had included, but rather “Ne mai avro pace dunque”), then back to Rossini’s Mathilde and Refice’s Saint Cecilia.

The “Selva opaca” is not only my favorite item on the recording, it’s one of my very favorite Tebaldi recordings and one of my favorite vocal recordings. JB Steane dismissed it because he was so troubled by the aspirations in her melismatic passages (which I don’t even notice) that he failed to pay attention to the grandeur and expansiveness with which she lays the aria out.

The voice is really beautifully caught by the Decca engineering team in their early stereo “tree” microphone setup and she’s presented front and center with full dynamics in your living room. The sheer quality, firmness, strength of projection and velvety floating are all representative of her absolute young prime.

Personally, I’m not much of a verismo fan musically (I know them’s fighting’ words to a number of you) so I would have rather they used session time to capture her in such prime voice singing “Come in quest’ora bruna” or let us hear what her 1955 voice is such terrific sound was like in Elsa’s Dream or as Wagner's Elisabeth. But the record is so good, I’m not going to complain.

Up until recently, to get all of the selections on this LP digitally, you had to scrounge around a number of sources. You could buy the complete Decca box. However, you now can buy the Australian Decca Eloquence “Tebaldi - the Early Years.” You’ll want to use something like iTunes to reassemble the tracks; the CD mixes together the 1949 aria recordings with the 1955 recital, but it does have all of the 1955 selections. Eloquence is also the label to which I’m highly indebted for having made all of the “introuvable” DGG recordings of Irmgard Seefried available again as well as all of Flagstad’s Decca Lieder and song recordings.

If you haven’t heard this Tebaldi recital, or if you haven’t heard it in some time, you’re in for a treat.

Max Paley
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