audio:

Singers on Singing :
Renata Tebaldi

RENATA TEBALDI – LA VOCE D’ANGELO

Recorded December 2004, and aired February 2005

Renata Tebaldi was a legend in her own time as one of the most highly sought after sopranos in history. Although she had the qualities of a true dramatic spinto soprano in the sheer size and weight of her voice, she herself rightly felt she was a lirico-spinto singer in her stylistic approach. Her opulent tone was supported by a magnificent technique including remarkable breath-control with which she delivered outstanding legato phrasing, special subtlety of musical phrasing, and powerful vocal characterization.

From the time of her professional stage debut in 1944 singing Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele in Rovigo, Tebaldi was immediately recognized as an exceptional talent, and when two years later the fearsomely demanding Arturo Toscanini chose her to participate in his gala concert for the re-opening of La Scala opera, he made a play on words about her voice, exclaiming “Ah – la voce d’angelo” (Ah – the voice of an angel) as it floated down from a high balcony near the end of Verdi’s Te Deum. This is how Tebaldi was thereafter often referred to by her legion admirers, who included some of the most highly distinguished opera celebrities of her day.

For the tribute documentary posted here, which was made just after her death in December 2004, some of those artists took part as commentators on Tebaldi’s qualities, and they included mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, soprano Evelyn Lear, soprano Carol Neblett and baritone Thomas Stewart, among other speakers who also knew and/or worked with her. The recordings that were played as illustrations are itemised below.

–Jon Tolansky

Listen to the documentary immediately below (in two parts; total length of approx. 1 hour, 56 min.)

Host:

Jon Tolansky

Musical excerpts included in this feature:

  • “Pace, pace mio Dio!” from La Forza del Destino (Verdi, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Prayer” from Mosè in Egitto (Rossini, from the album Renata Tebaldi: The Birth of a Legend)
  • “Ritorna vincitor” from Aida (Verdi, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Líbera me” from Requiem Mass (Verdi, from the album Renata Tebaldi: The Birth of a Legend)
  • “Tacea la notte placida” from Il Trovatore (Verdi, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Me pellegrina ed orfana” from Il Trovatore (Verdi, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Sono andati?” from La Bohème (Puccini, from the album Puccini: La Bohème)
  • “Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto” from Suor Angelica (Puccini, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Mario, Mario, Mario” from Tosca (Puccini, from the album Tosca (Highlights))
  • “Orsù, Tosca, parlate” from Tosca (Puccini, from the album Tosca (Highlights))
  • “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca (Puccini, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Io tenni la promessa” from Tosca (Puccini, from the album Tosca (1951))
  • “Io tenni la promessa” from Tosca (Puccini, from the album Tosca (Highlights))
  • “Ora a noi” from Madama Butterfly (Puccini, from the album Madama Butterfly)
  • Opening from La Fanciulla del West (Puccini, from the album La Fanciulla del West)
  • “Hello Minnie” from La Fanciulla del West (Puccini, from the album La Fanciulla del West)
  • “Mister Johnson” from La Fanciulla del West (Puccini, from the album La Fanciulla del West)
  • “Una partita a poker” from La Fanciulla del West (Puccini, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “E un anatema” from La Gioconda (Ponchielli, from the album La Gioconda)
  • Final moments of Act Three from Andrea Chénier (Giordano, from the album Andrea Chénier)
  • “Già nella notte densa” from Otello (Verdi, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “Dio ti giocondi, o sposo” from Otello (Verdi, from the album Otello)
  • “A terra!…si…nel livido fango” from Otello (Verdi, from the album Otello)
  • Maria Callas singing “Parigi, o cara” from La Traviata (Verdi, from the album Di Stefano: Verdi Arias)
  • “Parigi, o cara” from La Traviata (Verdi, from the album The Great Renata Tebaldi)
  • “If I Loved You” from Carousel (Rodgers, from the album Concert at Lewisohn Stadium)
  • “A vucchella” (Tosti, from the album The New York Farewell Recital)
  • “Io son l’umile ancella” from Adriana Lecouvreur (Cilea, from the album Adriana Lecouvreur)

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