Letter from Renata Tebaldi






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Giuseppe Verdi: Il Trovatore

A review from Gramophone, September 1989

This set was first issued at about the same time as the now-legendary Callas/Karajan version (EMI), and suffered in comparison-as, to an extent, it still does-but it has the advantage of being made in stereo, one of the first operas to receive that treatment (it was made in 1956, not 1959 as the booklet says, presumably a printing error). In the light of what sort of cast could be assembled today, this one must be considered in many ways exemplary. It benefits from all the singers being native Italians and from the experience of most of the artists in their roles on stage. Tebaldi didn't often attempt Leonora, but here she sings the part with sovereign spinto tone and some fine shadings (also a few strained moments)-listen to "Prima che d'altri vivere" in the finale-but as always in her commercial recordings she doesn't quite suggest the frisson of a stage performance as Callas certainly does for Karajan. Del Monaco, often criticized for his crudities, here sings with some sensitivity, and how welcome to today's ears is his strong, heroic tone and declamation-he sounds like the ardent warrior before "Ah si, ben mio" (and in the Act 4 imprecations), while that aria itself is passionately if not very stylishly sung. In the succeeding duettino just after, he really sings piano though not so sensuously as di Stefano for Karajan. Two verses of "Di quella pira" follow. In Act 4, Tebaldi offers one of "Tu vedrai", usually cut 30 years ago.

Savarese is a firm but exceedingly dull Luna, the set's one weakness. The best reason for hearing this Trovatore is for Simionato's Azucena, a really great performance, as it was on stage. Her Racconto is wonderfully voiced as a whole and in detail. "Giorni poveri" has what the Italians term morbidezza and the succeeding cabaletta just the right tense fire. Tozzi is an imposing Ferrando. Erede conducts with some authority but little of Karajan's fire. The Maggio Musicale forces perform admirably, but the orchestral sound is restricted in contrast with the voices, which have a presence and reality often missing in today's operatic issues.

I certainly enjoyed listening again to this set, especially to Simionato, who has no peer today though Barbieri (for Karajan), is just as thrilling without quite Simionato's ease at the top.


I was asked to point out that Tebaldi never sung Leonora on stage though AB writes "Tebaldi didn't often attempt Leonora". -J.T.-


Manrico: Mario Del Monaco
Leonora: Renata Tebaldi
Conte di Luna: Ugo Savarese
Azucena: Giulietta Simionato
Ferrando: Giorgio Tozzi
Ines: Luisa Maragliano
Ruiz/Messenger: Athos Cesarini
A Gipsy: Antonio Balbi

Orchestra of the Grand Theatre, Geneva
Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Alberto Erede

Decca 411 874-2


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