17 March, 2008

Giuseppe di Stefano, 1921-2008

Once again, a great singer has died and somehow I don't find out about it until much later...

The Italian tenor Giuseppe di Stefano died on March 03, aged 86. Di Stefano was one of the great tenors of the "pre-Pavarotti" era. In fact, Pavarotti became well known after he stepped in for an ailing di Stefano at Covent Garden in 1963 (in what would become one of his most famous roles: Rodolfo in Puccini's La Boheme). He's not as well known as Pavarotti or Domingo partially due to his relatively early retirement (in the mid 1960's) due to, well, "vocal fatigue" pretty much describes it (due at least in part to his choice of roles that were really too heavy for his lyric tenor voice). He'll be remembered for inspiring Maria Callas' ill-considered decision to come out of retirement for a final concert tour (in the mid 1970s). The tour was ultimately to end early as in reality neither singer was capable of sustaining it. Still, his portrayals of Donizetti and Bellini roles, like Nemorino (in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore) will remain as some one of the greatest performances in opera history.

BBC Obituary
NPR Obituary (with additional pictures and links to recordings)

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