Giuseppe Di Stefano © 2012 Adriaan Fuchs. All rights reserved.

Giuseppe Di Stefano

“The voice that made the world swoon.”

– Raina Kabaivanska, soprano

 

Great Interpreters:  Giuseppe Di Stefano

Broadcast “live” on Fine Music Radio on 24 October 2008.

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Rightly regarded not only as one of the leading operatic tenors of the 20th century, but also one of the greatest singers of all time, Giuseppe Di Stefano (1921-2008) enjoyed a brilliant career stretching from the late 1940’s until the early 1970’s. He reached the apex of his fame in partnership with Maria Callas on both stage and disc during the 1950’s and was especially highly regarded for his performances of the leading roles of Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi and Puccini. Though he appeared in all the world’s leading opera houses, his spiritual home remained La Scala, where he appeared 185 times in no less than 43 different productions.

Known as “Pippo” to his friends and colleagues, Di Stefano was the perennial “bad boy” of opera – a flamboyant, volatile, wilful and sometimes erratic opera star, who enjoyed his position as a macho figure of undoubted attraction. He preferred the lifestyle of smoking and the fast track to that of a dedicated artist: by the mid-1960’s he was virtually a spent force, though he was only in his mid-40’s.

Di Stefano’s was an abundant and natural talent. His voice was the very epitome of Italianate warmth, with an immediacy and passion unrivalled in the 20th century. His hallmarks were a honeyed pianissimo and perfect enunciation. Vocally, however, Di Stefano gave perhaps more than he should have. At times he forced his fine instrument and ventured into repertoire that probably did more harm than good. Coupled with his lack of self-discipline, his reckless vocalism no doubt precipitated his early vocal decline.

His many recordings, however, made in his prime, will be there to remind everyone that he belongs among the greatest tenors of the 20th century.

Podcast Track List

1) “Che gelida manina” from Act I of La bohème (Puccini)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Rodolfo)
Conductor: Gaetano Merola
San Francisco Opera Association Orchestra
Recorded “live” on 1 October 1950 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

2) “Pourquoi me réveiller?” from Act III of Werther (Massenet)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Werther)
Edoardo Moser (piano)
Recorded: 1944, Radio Lausanne Studios, Switzerland.

3) “O dolce incanto” from Act II of Manon (Massenet)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Des Grieux)
Edoardo Moser (piano)
Recorded: 1944, Radio Lausanne Studios, Switzerland.

4) “Questo o quella” from Act I of Rigoletto (Verdi)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Duke)
Conductor: Renato Cellini
Recorded “live” in 1948 in Mexico City.

5) “Vogliatemi bene” (Love Duet) from Act I of Madama Butterfly (Puccini)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Pinkerton)
Renata Tebaldi (Cio-Cio-San)
Conductor: Gaetano Merola
San Francisco Opera Association Orchestra
Recorded “live” on 15 October 1950 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

6) “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure” from Act III of Faust (Gounod)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Faust)
Conductor: Gaetano Merola
San Francisco Opera Association Orchestra
Recorded “live” on 15 October 1950 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

7) “Cielo e mar” from Act II of La Gioconda (Ponchielli)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Enzo)
Conductor: Gaetano Merola
San Francisco Opera Association Orchestra
Recorded “live” on 29 October 1950 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

8) “E lucevan le stelle” from Act III of Tosca (Puccini)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Mario Cavaradossi)
Maria Callas (Floria Tosca)
Conductor: Victor de Sabata
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Recorded: 1953, for EMI.

9) “Quel trionfo” from Il barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Count Almaviva)
Conductor: Alberto Erede
Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera, New York
Recorded “live” on 16 December 1950 at the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

10) “Invitato a qui seguirmi” from Act III of La traviata (Verdi)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Alfredo)
Maria Callas (Violetta)
Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Recorded “live” on 28 May 1955 at La Scala, Milan.

11) “Fra poco a me ricovero” from Act III of Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Edgardo)
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Recorded “live” on September 1955 in the Städtische Opera, Berlin.

12) “Di quella pira, l’orrendo foco” from Act III of Il trovatore (Verdi)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Manrico)
Maria Callas (Leonora)
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Recorded in 1956 for EMI.

13) “Vesti la giubba” from Act I of I pagliacci (Leoncavallo)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Canio)
Conductor: Tullio Serafin
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Recorded: 1954, for EMI.

14) “Oh, saró la più bella….Tu, tu amore, tu?” from Act II of Manon Lescaut (Puccini)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Des Grieux)
Maria Callas (Manon)
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Conductor: Tullio Serafin
Recorded: 1957, for EMI.

15) “O soave fanciulla” from Act I of La bohème (Puccini)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (Rodolfo)
Maria Callas (Mimi)
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Conductor: Antonino Votto
Recorded: 1956, for EMI.

16) “Una furtiva lagrima” from Act II of L’elisir d’amore (Donizetti)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor)
Edoardo Moser (piano)
Recorded: 1944, Radio Lausanne Studios, Switzerland.

17) “Santa Lucia lontana” (traditional)
Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor)
Edoardo Moser (piano)
Recorded: 1944, Radio Lausanne Studios, Switzerland.

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