IRRESISTIBLE, UNFORGETTABLE RENATA TEBALDI
Armindo | Greece | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"VAI sampled here almost everything they've got with Renata that was previously spread on different dvd collections. Disc one starts with the act I finale of Boheme and we get this gorgeous voice in its full glory. I always go back to Renata to understand Puccini operas. The firmness, the squillo and her natural Italian phrasing are taken for granted yet have never been equalled. Bjoerling is a famous Rodolfo and this clip must be a gem for his fans. Un bel di is as good as it gets and both Butterfly scenes benefit for her creamier 1959 voice that lasted unfortunately so little. Tebaldi is unpredictably believable even if she doesn't look like a girl. The bonus 1961 Butterfly scenes are less successful due to the faster tempo the conductor opts for.
A warm Vissi d'arte is spoiled by the worse ever costume and haircut! You'll have to close your eyes to enjoy it. Adriana fairs slightly better followed but a meaty part of the Stuttgart Tosca. The theatre provides Renata's voice the appropriate space and it gives us and idea of the size of this instrument. The stream of sound fills the theatre as soon as the volcano Renata errupts! This was by the way the first time I noticed that Tosca is actually attracted and charmed by Scarpia who is well portrayed here by George London (also a massive voice). Eugene Tobin is no match for either of them.
I was initially sceptical about the two late performances but both Voi lo sapete and Suicidio blew me away and this is the effect that verisimo should have. The slimmer Renata is breathtaking dramatically despite her occasional hard tone, characteristic of her mid 60s voice. The short discussion with conductor Voorhees made me fall in love with Tebaldi, the unassuming woman, yet legendary artist.
Disc two contains the entire concerto Italiano. This was previously released separately and it was a great idea to include it on this portrait DVD even though I didn't enjoy it as much as the first disc. We have to keep in mind that these were some of the first attempts to bring opera to a wider audience using the television so everything looks a bit old-fashioned, especially the direction. All the same, I enjoyed Tebaldi's Tosca because of her authority and dignity. I can see why Scarpia falls in love with this proud woman. And certainly Tebaldi's physical characteristics help as well. Vocally she impresses less while the Rossini songs aren't that flattering for her big voice either. The young Quilico is what I expected with surprisingly great top notes however.
Ideally VAI should have included the Tebaldi/Tucker 1957 Chenier duet but even without it, this is a lovely tribute to a legend! I never get enough of her huge glorious voice!
Not perfect, but still a diva
cherubino | Houston, Texas United States | 12/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Since I started listening to opera, Renata Tebaldi has always confounded me. She was an authentic lyrico-spinto, and certain selections from her recitals give me chills, like the prision cell aria from Mefestofele, and the card game scene from La Fanciulla del West. But, then again, I find her way of slightly bending the top notes a bit strange, as well as a certain roughness, which is less than tasteful. Sometimes, whereas another diva would have floated a line, or included a nice little dimuendo, Renata just stops it cold, and goes on.
All that aside, I fell in love with Renata, the person, after reading her biography. She was a well-grounded, serene individual who never took stardom for granted, or used her status to step on other people. If I believed in Hindu religion, I'd say she was one step away from nirvana.
The first selection on disc one is absolute magic. Here we have to operatic legends, in a heartwarming scene, filmed in black-and-white. I must admit that I am in the small minority that doesn't like La Boheme very much. What kills it for me is the overdone, saccharine death scene. Still, this is Puccini. At the end of this scene, I had a tear in my eye.
The Butterfly arias as just incredible. As the other reviewer stated, she is in creamier voice. Instead of just singing the aria, Renata treats us to the variety of gestures she studied while learning the role.
Now, I still haven't seen the whole of Vissi D'Arte. Why did Renata consent to singing this aria in such an atrocious costume and wig? She looks like Carol Burnett meets Merry Wideo meets Snow White. Thank God that the Telephone Hour never put Sutherland in a dress this howlingly awful.
The outfit for Io Son L'Umile Ancella is marginally better, though you could hide a kitchen sink under that billowing cape. I'm glad that Renata begins with the recitative. She delivers a "Tutti, usciti!" almost as good as that of Magda Olivero. Again, she could have given the end of the aria a creamier, more floated treatment.
After the Stuttgart Tosca scene, we are treated to Voi Lo Sapete. I liked the simple, stark setting- it evokes the Sicily of Sciascia and Verga. I'm sorry to say, but all that weight Renata lost just emphasizes her freakishly long arms and giant hands. This is a passionate delivery of the aria- I love that hard, angry look she gives when she sits in the chair. The line about Lola forgetting her own husband, and stealing hers is delivered with sharpness and venom. The was she cries out during the last "Io piango!" really blew me away.
The brief interview is a real treat. It did make me chuckle a little, though. Having known and met many Italians, I recognized some classic liguistic foibles. She says "infactly", for example. In Italian, they say "infatti", to mean "in fact". Then, when speaking of the role of Gioconda, she says, "It give (sic) to me..." in a classic Italian accent.
Her Suicidio! is sung fairly well, but by this stage a hardness had crept into her voice, most evident when she sings the high note in alt.
This isn't a perfect portrayal of Tebaldi's art. Too bad Bell Telephone Hour never brought her on to sing L'Altra Notte, or Ebben, Ne Andro Lontana.