Renata Tebaldi, soprano (Mimì), Hilde Güden, soprano (Musetta), Giacinto Prandelli, tenor (Rodolfo), Giovanni Inghilleri, baritone (Marcello), Raphaël Arie, bass (Colline). Chorus and Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Alberto Erede, conductor. Plus highlights from La bohème. Licia Albanese, soprano (Mimì), Patrice Munsel, soprano (Musetta), Giuseppe di Stefano, tenor (Rodolfo), Leonard Warren, baritone (Marcello), Nicola Moscona, bass (Colline). Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera, Renato Cellini and Victor Trucco, conductors.
NAXOS 8.110252-53 (2 CDs) (B) (ADD) TT: 2:22:08
Two new issues
on the MYTO and Naxos labels pair complete performances of La bohème with
highlights from Puccinis
beloved opera. In the case of the MYTO release, a complete Met broadcast
from 15 March 1952 is coupled with highlights from another that took
place on 17 March 1951. The Naxos issue features two monophonic studio
recordingsRenata Tebaldis first Bohème for
London records, and an RCA Met highlights disc. Three of the recordings
(one complete, two highlights) spotlight Giuseppe di Stefanos Rodolfo,
a role tailor-made for the Italian tenors
unique and considerable gifts. Di Stefano did make a complete studio
recording of this opera for EMI in 1956, with Maria Callas as Mimì.
On that occasion, both of these great artists delivered unforgettable
performances. But it must be admitted that by the mid-50s, some of the
bloom had been taken off di Stefanos vocal sheen, particularly
in the upper register. In the MYTO and Naxos releases, di Stefano is
at his youthful best, with one of the most beautiful tenor voices on
records aligned with superb diction and passionate delivery. In every
measure, di Stefano lives and breathes the impetuous, romantic poet.
His discovery of Mimìs death is all the more heartbreaking
for its lack of forced melodrama, exactly what great verismo should be.
Albanese is the Mimì in the March 1952 Met broadcast and
RCA highlights disc. She made two complete commercial recordings of La
bohèmea 1938 La Scala version, and a 1946 NBC broadcast,
led by the conductor who presided over the operas world premiere,
Arturo Toscanini. While Albanese does not possess a vocal quality that
was ideal in beauty or youthful tone, she is a consummate singing-actress,
who brings Mimì vividly to life. Bidú Sayaos Mimì is
exquisitely sung and interpreted in the March 1951 broadcast.
Cesare Siepi, appearing in both the 1951 and 1952 Met broadcasts,
is a predictably
superb Colline, both in voice and bearing. Frank Guarrera
(1952 broadcast), Giuseppe Valdengo (1951 broadcast), and Leonard Warren
(RCA highlights) are a worthy trio of Marcellos. Hilde Güden,
a vivacious and vocally superb Musetta on the 1952 Met broadcast, also
sings that role to great effect on the 1951 complete
London recording, now reissued by Naxos. This is the first of two complete
Bohèmes Renata Tebaldi recorded for London. The second,
a 1959 stereo recording under the direction of Tullio Serafin, featured
an incredible assemblage of vocal talentTebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi,
Ettore Bastianini and Cesare Siepi. The cast on this 1951 mono
recording does not equal the later version. Nevertheless,there are
several worthy contributions. Certainly, Güdens
Musetta is one of the chief assets. Likewise, Tebaldis Mimì is
in younger, fresher voice on this first outing. For the most part
Tebaldi is superb, pouring forth gorgeous tone, and offering considerable
in the role. Occasionally a high note does not have ideal sweetness,
but that problem is not as evident as on the stereo Bohème.
This is certainly one of the better Mimìs on disc, a fine
souvenir of a great artist in her youthful prime.