> di STEFANO Decca Singers series 4679082 [IL]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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in Decca’s ‘The Singers’ Series
Arias from:-
Verdi’s Aida (‘Celeste Aida’);
Verdi’s Luisa Miller (‘Quando le sere al placido’);
Verdi’s Otello (‘Dio! mi potevi scagliar’; ‘Niun mi tema’);
Boito’s Mefistofole (‘Giunto sul passo estremo’);
Meyerbeer’s L’Africana (‘O paradiso!’);
Ponchielli’s La Gioconda (‘Cielo e mar’);
Puccini’s La fanciulla del West (‘Or son sei mesi’);
Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur (‘La dolcissima effigie’);
Leoncavallo’s La Bohème (‘Testa adorata’);
Giordano’s Fedora (‘Amor ti vieta’);
Pietri’s Maristella (‘Io conosco un giardino’)
Pizzetti’s Il calzare d’argento (‘Davvero, quanto grande è la miseria’)
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino conducted by Bruno Bartoletti
(Recorded Teatro Comunale, Florence June 1962)
Six traditional Sicilian songs

Orchestra conducted by Dino Olivieri
(Recorded in 1958 – no venue given)
with CD-ROM content including photo gallery, texts and links.
DECCA 467 908-2 [79:06]


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I well remember attending a recital of Neapolitan songs and operatic arias by Giuseppe di Stefano in Garda, Italy in the late 1980s. He was by then ageing but the voice was still strong and ardent and how that Italian audience loved him! I also treasure his wonderful interpretations of Massenet’s Des Grieux and Puccini’s Cavaradossi, respectively tormented in Manon, and virile and heroic in Tosca both in Karajan’s sumptuous 1971 recording with Leontyne Price, a Decca box set I still treasure, and of course with the fabulous Maria Callas in the celebrated 1953 De Sabata recording.

I agree fully with Alan Blyth’s comments in the CD booklet, when he says: "Everything Di Stefano attempted came from his heart and went to his listener’s heart…His interpretations have that extraordinary charge of spontaneous emotion with which he imbued all his readings and which is found wanting in so many of his successors." This spontaneity and sincerity was continued, though, in the voice of Pavarotti who could be regarded as his successor. Alas, it has sometimes been fashionable to sneer unkindly at Di Stefano’s emoting. One only has to listen to the warmth and conviction the great tenor brings to the well-known arias in this collection: whether it’s Radamès ardent declaration of love for Aida, the tortured jealousy of Otello or Loris’s passionate outpouring from Fedora, to dismiss these carpings. And then there is the warm sunshine of his tone in those Neapolitan songs.

The CD-ROM element has a portrait gallery showing Di Stefano in his many operatic roles, a Di Stefano discography and the words of the arias.

Bravo for Di Stefano – a wonderful memento of a great Italian tenor who was unafraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Ian Lace


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