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Subject: Re: Selva opaca and a favorite Tebaldi recital
From: Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Donald Levine <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 20 Mar 2017 09:19:45 -0700

text/plain (130 lines)

I am so glad you brought up that glorious 1955 recital.  It is a thing of
many wonders, first off, the perfectly even beautiful scale from top to
bottom.  The creamy, full tone, top to bottom, still easy on top.  The
hardness and recalcitrance at the very top had not yet reared their heads.
I love her Mozart.  To hear a big, even Italian voice in this music is
wondrous.  Yes, I know Mozart was Austrian and there is a great German
style of singing Mozart but for me, the Da Ponte operas heroines sound so
beautiful when in the hands of a really great Italian voice.  In her early
years, the voice of Tebaldi was as much as natural wonder as those of
Ponselle, Rethberg, Flagstad and Traubel, and I might add, another Niagara,
Jessye Norman.

I also am always in awe of the beauty of that Selva Opaca and although I
know its really not top drawer music, the Cecilia scenas are marvelous, and
yes, I know and love the Muzio recordings.  This disc is among my desert
island treasures.  We must also take note of the recitals she recorded that
same year with Giorgio Favaretto at the piano.  Every bit as miraculous as
that aris recital.

There is one more recital that I would like to mention and this is not
Tebaldi.  Regine Crespin's EMI recital conducted by Otto Ackermann is
another of those magical moments that catch a great singer at that point of
vocal grace.  Her Sombre foret is equal to Tebaldi's and I would say,
anyone who has recorded it.  She also sings D'amor sull''ali rose, the
complete Act 4, Sc 1 scena of Desdemona, Dich Teure Halle and Einsam in
truben tagen.  I hope I haven't forgotten anything but this is another
treasure.  For about ten years Crespin had one of the most beautiful voices
of the second half of the 20th century and these recordings caught her in a
magical moment.


On Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 10:25 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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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