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Subject: Re: Tebaldi's (in)famous 1963 'Adriana'
From: David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:18:21 -0400

text/plain (47 lines)

Bob's remark here reminds me that in recently looking at Tebaldi's
performance history I was struck by how much of a Met 'trooper' she became,
going on those long Spring tours and singing week after week in many
American cities where the theater conditions must have been terrible.  There
is no way you could induce a star of her magnitude to do this today. 

We are accustomed to thinking of 1964 to the end as a kind of "second half"
of Tebaldi's career, whereas she already made a significant change around
the time of her Met debut in 1955.  She had been singing for ten years by
then (which we often forget when judging the condition of her voice), and
this first period was full of all sorts of repertoire, including the Mozart
'Requiem'!  Then in the mid-50's there is a drastic reduction in repertoire
to verismo and a few Verdi parts, with her giving up 'Traviata', 'Aida', and
then 'Forza' one by one.  (She must have been especially attached to
Violetta, having sung practically nothing else the last year she did it,
1957.  Sirius broadcast the Met 'Traviata' of that year and I thought it
still very impressive.  Even the 'Sempre libera', from the start of her
career transposed, of course, was not nearly as labored as I expected, the
descending chromatic scales actually quite good for her.)  

One other observation.  It always surprises me when I see how often she
talked about Serafin trying to induce her to learn 'Norma'.  She was smart
enough not to invite comparisons with Callas, but one never has the sense
that she appreciated what a major disaster it would have been.  No only
would the florid singing with flying C's have been vocally impossible for
her, but the opera works completely against her artistic temperament. 
Serafin could make her a great 'Aida', but never 'Norma'.  

David Kubiak

> Renata Tebaldi was no stranger to
>second casts, but no one at the Met was. Not even
>Maria Callas!

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