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Subject: Re: Cetra CD reissues. Some more.
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 9 Jul 2017 22:11:40 -0400
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Bing offered Taddei another contract in the late 50's but Taddei wasn't satisfied with the salary--hence Bing decided he was "difficult." Levine later offered him Fra Melitone in Forza, but Taddei wasn't pleased with the role. Hence the long wait at the Met--but his Falstaff was worth waiting for. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion of opera and related issues [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of albert innaurato
Sent: Sunday, July 9, 2017 9:37 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Cetra CD reissues. Some more.

It's clear to me, and maybe to me alone, that Taddei was the greatest Italian baritone of that group of impressive singers in that range that emerged in Italy during and after WWll. (Like several others he had begun, as a teenager, before the war). It is a very wide-ranging, gorgeous voice, with an effortless outpouring available to him, and a variety of colors in the tone. In his best years (certainly into the 1960's) he has no serious difficulties with the top, has a bass baritone's resonance in the lower range when required and a thunderous forte. His words are eloquently and beautifully uttered and he never twists the vowel to achieve the sound (as Gobbi does usually). Despite a bizarre utterance above he has no serious intonational difficulties, but Gobbi often sings under the pitch and has a strong tendency to flat, documented on studio and live recordings consistently, and perfectly evident when one heard him live.

Taddei was a singer of his time: in his spectacular recording of Carlo Quinto (a very good Cetra offering despite the cuts standard at the time), although he has a fine, well-bound legato, no trouble with some high writing, thunderous declamation when called for, and a seductive tone as well, he does not try the decorations of or display the elegant bravura of Battistini (the complete recordings are available on Marston, and on the best of the transfers it sounds like he is standing in the room.)

On the other hand, he does have an elegance of manner and a constant emission of beautiful tone. It's a better account of the role on a complete record than Bastianini, who sounds gorgeous but hasn't the same skill or imagination, Warren, who has splendor of tone but tends toward a certain unsteadiness, Sereni, who, well-intentioned as he was, is an also-ran or Bruson, hustled through by Muti and somewhat past his best, though with a grasp of the role similar to Taddei's but a less imposing sound. I heard MacNeil in his prime (twice in 1962, once in '65) and that was very impressive, a little more blustery, but really tremendous, but he didn't make an easily accessible recording (in-house tapes with queenly commentary have circulated).

In Taddei's Iago (on a strong Cetra Otello) he sings (and tunes) the murderous brindisi superbly, managing the chromatic writing, the descending chromatic scales and getting close to the trills better than anybody else on a recording. Gobbi is a nightmare of approximation there (look at the orchestral score starting at 20 bars after letter EE). In the high-lying "era la notte" he floats the notes and observes Verdi's many very soft markings, including dolcissimo (very sweet) absolutely in tune with a timbre that is entirely insinuating and voluptuous.

Of the two commercial Scarpias, the better is surely what was released on Columbia in USA, where he is spectacular, Stella is very good and Serafin does an excellent job. There is Poggi but we won't think of him. In the first Karajan recording, he's very good but his tone is somewhat spread and there are some approximately pitched higher notes.

He was a singer with an immense endowment, splendor of tone and a lively interpretive imagination. He refused to audition for Bing and thus didn't sing at the Met until the end of his career. Gobbi was more familiar and better promoted by a big recording company. I am not going to dismiss him, he was a very imaginative, colorful performer but no yardstick for greatness simply in singing. His best recordings are the very first, where his tone is attractive and he doesn't artificially weight his voice.
Subsequently, he had two modes, the bark which could ring out impressively, and then a bizarre way of sliding into a gummy croon toward the top, twisting the vowels (as I mentioned) and unable to sing consistently in tune (I don't care what somewhat else says, those with ears can hear.) He did a great deal with a compromised technique and a voice that was probably more limited in range and somewhat smaller than he wanted. The very best I ever saw him was in a master class, where confronted by a soprano who wanted to sing "Un bel di" but hadn't a clue how to even start, HE sang it all and reduced everybody present to sobs. That's a kind of magic for which one can forgive a lot.

AI

On Sun, Jul 9, 2017 at 5:05 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Re: the other thread on vocal registers and passagio, it always 
> surprised me that, bring such a great singer otherwise, Gobbi seemed 
> to have such a difficult time transitioning into head voice for those 
> notes above E. Once in a while it would click into place and he'd get 
> a good high note. Those top notes were clearly in the voice but 
> somehow he had a very hard time getting them out well.
>
> I think this is the reason many people praise his artistry but 
> deprecate his voice. I personally think that, other than this one 
> problem, it was a really splendid voice with a wonderful solidity, bite and range of color.
>
> He even managed to work around the upper register issue quite 
> successfully; I just think those top notes weren't what they should 
> have been.
>
> Max Paley
>
> Sent from my iPhone

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