Renata Tebaldi faced great physical difficulties when she contracted polio at the age of three. Overcoming her disability, she later studied voice at the Arrigo Boito Conservatory in Parma with the great soprano Carmen Melis. Her first public appearance came in 1944 as Elena in Boito's Mefistofele at the Teatro Municipale in Rovigo. That same year she repeated the role in Parma and Venice. Arturo Toscanini heard her and asked her to participate in the reopening of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan in 1946. She also sang the Verdi Requiem there that year, as well as Mimì in La bohème and Eva in Die Meistersinger (in Italian). From 1949 to 1954, she sang frequently at La Scala, but she left over bitter feelings regarding Maria Callas, her only real rival as prima donna of the company. During this time, she also sang regularly in many of the important opera houses in Italy. She was also heard in South America and was a favorite in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. In 1950, she debuted at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in London as Desdemona in Otello and at the San Francisco Opera as Aida. She was a regular guest at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1955, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Desdemona and remained a favorite of the New York public for the next 20 years. She sang most her important roles in New York including Mimì in La bohème, Maddalena in Andrea Chenier, Tosca, Aida, Violetta in La Traviata, Manon in Manon Lescaut, Adriana Lecouvreur, La Gioconda, and Alice Ford in Falstaff. These are the same roles that she sang at opera houses in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. In the early years of her career, Tebaldi sang in many operas which she was not to repeat later including Handel's Giulio Cesare, Rossini's L'Assedio di Corinto, Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco, Wagner's Lohengrin and Tannhäuser, Mozart's Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira), and Spontini's Olympia and Agnes di Hohenstaufen. Besides her work in opera, Tebaldi appeared in recital and in concerts. Her recital programs consisted primarily of Italian songs and operatic arias. On the concert stage, besides the Verdi Requiem she also sang Mozart's Requiem, Rossini's Stabat Mater and Bach's St. Matthew Passion. Tebaldi's voice was a very powerful spinto soprano of great beauty. She was able to sustain a long lyric line with little trouble and in the early years of her career she exhibited good control of florid passages. The extreme top of the range was lovely when singing softly, but tended to lose pitch when sung at full volume. Toscanini considered her voice one of the most beautiful in the twentieth century, and early in her career some critics felt that she was slighting the drama. She went through a vocal crisis in the early 1960s, but returned having restudied her voice and added more dramatic roles such as Gioconda and Minnie in La fanciulla del west to her repertoire and at the same time becoming a more intense actress. She was very careful about the roles she sang and how often she would sing. Rudolf Bing, manager of the Metropolitan Opera is quoted saying that "Tebaldi has dimples of steel," a sentiment echoed by many other managers. Her many recordings document the range of repertoire she sang and the great artistry she displayed.
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Full Operas - Released January 1, 2015 | Myto Historical
Distinctions 9 de Classica-Répertoire
This live 1958 recording of Tosca at La Scala is likely to be of interest primarily to listeners willing to put up with an annoyingly high noise level. The unrelenting tape hiss is loud enough to mask details of the orchestration. The prompter is frequently very intrusive, and the enthusiastic audience makes its presence known with outbursts of applause. The voices, though, are miked at a high enough level that they are always clearly audible, so fans of Tebaldi, di Stefano, and Bastianini may be willing to overlook these shortcomings for the sake of the very fine performance. All are in exceptionally strong voice. Tebaldi's Tosca is both limpid and impetuous, and her tone is radiant. The dark, penetrating quality of Bastianini's voice is genuinely malevolent. Di Stefano is resonant and thrillingly heroic, and the scene when he learns of Napoleon's victory is fiercely impassioned; from that point to the end of the second act, the performance is searingly tense, a highlight of the recording. Tebaldi and di Stefano made studio recordings of Tosca that put this one to shame in their polished sound, but there is real chemistry here that focuses attention on the opera as an ensemble piece. Gianandrea Gavazzeni's propulsively dramatic and atmospheric conducting is strikingly effective, and in spite of the recording's sonic limitations, it's possible to discern that the orchestral playing is idiomatic and impassioned. The album is filled out with eight tracks featuring di Stefano and Tebaldi in excerpts from Manon Lescaut, La bohème (in an unusually sensuous and romantic performance), and Gianni Schicchi. Di Stefano's and Tebaldi's performances are potent testimony to what many opera lovers nostalgically refer to as the Golden Age. The sound quality on these tracks is acceptable, but variable. © TiVo
Opera - Released January 1, 2015 | Urania Records
Opera - Released June 24, 2016 | 200 Greatest Hits
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