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Subject: Re: Tebaldi's (in)famous 1963 'Adriana'
From: Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Les Mitnick <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:39:26 -0500

text/plain (71 lines)

    I agree with you. Tebaldi, while certainly not an adventurous soprano, nevertheless did a lot of work and had a total dedication to her it.  I was listening AGAIN to the 1963 "Adriana" yesterday afternoon, and while there's that "metal rim" on the top (starting at around A), she still has great beauty in her voice, as well as top notch phrasing.  She had been singing since 1945, and in weighty Italian repertoire (Aida, Forza, Tosca, Butterfly, Chenier, La Wally, etc.) and she was already 41 years old.  The "peaches and cream" were less in abundance, but she still could deliver a performance and elicit euphoric approbation from her audiences.  
   Some of the problems were corrected and others were not. But with a newly acquired vocal demeanor, and a more uninhibited stage presence, as well as a very effectively used lower chest register, Tebaldi was able to maintain a solid opera stage career until 1970. Most importantly, she was the most beloved soprano of her generation and, fortunately or unfortunately, those like Walter Guitan were not alone in their blind idolatry of her.  Her Gioconda and Fanciulla had some exciting moments, and her voice in the middle and lower altitudes was still beautiful.  If her top Cs sounded out as B naturals, no one really cared.  Ironically enough, I (and this is just me) fine her 1969 broadcast of "Adriana" to be better sung than the one six years earlier in 1963 (the broadcast that brought about this discussion).  I also find her in astounding late-career condition on the 1968 recording of "La Wally".'
   For the prime and pristine Tebaldi, one must listen to recordings and broadcasts of the 1950s, where her beautiful phrasing and "pitcher of cream" voice can be appreciated to it's brim.  I still find her Desdemona (in the years of her prime) to be the definitive one.
   She lacked the very things that Callas had in abundance: nerve, vocal color, nuances, shadings, a tomorrow-be-damned demeanor to the singing, great stage prowess,  and the ability to encompass a huge repertoire which included roles for all types of sopranos.  It came to Callas with a tremendous price tag, but she paid it.
   Tebaldi needs no defense.  It was a dignified and beautiful career, a life well lived, and one that made an awful lot of people happy.  I always admired her and always will.  Few sopranos have possessed a vocal endowment like hers since her departure.  Despite the domination of Callas, Tebaldi is hardly to be classified as an "also ran".  Tons and tons of opera people couldn't be wrong.  The lady had a great gift and she shared it with the world.
   Lastly, on that 1963 Adriana broadcast, I do not hear the voice of a soprano who should have been considering retirement.  There was still a lot of good stuff to hear from her, and we did. 
> On August 14, 2017 at 11:18 AM David Kubiak <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 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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