Giuseppe di Stefano, 1921-2008

Paul Pekonen of Superconductor writes:

In addition to his many stage appearances. Giuseppe di Stefano was a post-war tenor who helped bring opera into the home of the contemporary listener with help from the newly invented long-playing record. Along with Carlo Bergonzi, Mario del Monaco and Jussi Bjöerling, these singers expanded the role of opera in popular culture, setting the stage for the giant successes of Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Pavarotti.

Most notably, di Stefano recorded ten classic operas opposite the great Maria Callas. Their remarkable run includes some of the most important Callas recordings, and is highlighted by the benchmark 1953 reading of Tosca with Victor de Sabata conducting. Featuring the snarling Scarpia of Tito Gobbi, this Tosca is one of the greatest Puccini recordings–one of the greatest opera recordings ever made.

Although di Stefano had a successful international career, his voice suffered from over-work in the 60s and early ’70s. On a final recital tour with Callas, he was a shadow of his former self. . Ultimately, his command of gorgeous tenor line and supple tone vanished to a shadow its former self. The great tenor‘s last onstage role was in a 1992 production of Turandot in the role of the wispy-voiced Emperor Altoum. It was a sad footnote ending to what had been a glorious career.

(more. . .)