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
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.