September 24, 2015

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 107: Renata Tebaldi is Aida

Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape box
front cover
photo of tape box cover by Styrous®

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I started the Vinyl LP series because I have a collection of over 20,000 vinyl record albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. The 101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes series is an extension of that collection. Inquire for information here.   

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Renata Tebaldi was an Italian lirico-spinto soprano popular in the post-World War II period. Among the most beloved opera singers, she has been said to have possessed one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century which was focused primarily on the verismo roles of the lyric and dramatic repertoires. And what opera could possibly be more dramatic than the grandest of all grand operas, Aida?   



Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape box
back cover
photo of tape box back cover by Styrous®



Aida was the first opera I saw live; it had elephants and Leontyne Price in 1958 at the beginning of her career (link to more on Price in Aida below). l was spoiled right from the first! And as usual, I have a favorite part; Act one, scene 2 does it for me in this opera. There are two links below to this on YouTube; the costuming and dancing in part one is stunning and not to be missed.   




Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape box
back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®







Aida (Italian: [aˈiːda]), sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario attributed to French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. However, Verdi biographer Mary Jane Phillips-Matz has argued that the scenario was actually written by Temistocle Solera. Aida was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on 24 December 1871, conducted by Giovanni Bottesini. Now, how appropriate is THAT!

Contrary to popular belief, the opera was not written to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, for which Verdi had been invited to write an inaugural hymn, but had declined. Metastasio's libretto La Nitteti (1756) was a major source of the plot.      







Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape box spine
detail photo by Styrous®




Verdi originally chose to write a brief orchestral prelude instead of a full overture for the opera. He then composed an overture of the "potpourri" variety to replace the original prelude. However, in the end he decided not to have the overture performed because of its—his own words—"pretentious insipidity". This overture, never used today, was given a rare broadcast performance by Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra on 30 March 1940, but was never commercially issued.  




Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape box with libretto
photo by Styrous®




Synopsis

Antecedent: The Egyptians have captured and enslaved Aida, an Ethiopian princess. An Egyptian military commander, Radamès, struggles to choose between his love for her and his loyalty to the Pharaoh. To complicate the story further, the Pharaoh's daughter Amneris is in love with Radamès, although he does not return her feelings. 





Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape box
photo by Styrous®





Renata Tebaldi was born on February 1, 1922, in Langhirano, Italy. Her major breakthrough came in 1946, when she auditioned for Arturo Toscanini. Toscanini called her "voce d'angelo" (angel voice). Toscanini encouraged her to sing the role of Aida and invited her to rehearse the role in his studio. She was of the opinion that the role of Aida was reserved for a dramatic soprano, but Toscanini convinced her and she made her role debut at La Scala in 1950 alongside Mario del Monaco and Fedora Barbieri in a performance conducted by Antonino Votto. This launched her international career. 




Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel
reel 1
photo by Styrous®

Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape detail
reel 1
photo by Styrous®










Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel
reel 2
photo by Styrous®

Renata Tebaldi - Aida
7½ ips reel-to-reel tape detail
reel 2
photo by Styrous®




There was an infamous rivalry between Tebaldi and Maria Callas so intense it was known outside the opera world (link to more about Callas below). How much of the rivalry was real, and how much whipped up by fans and the press, is open to question. Some believe the rivalry was instigated by their respective recording companies in order to boost sales, and that they were instructed to play along. According to Time magazine, when Callas quit La Scala, "Tebaldi made a surprising maneuver: she announced that she would not sing at La Scala without Callas.
'I sing only for artistic reasons; it is not my custom to sing against anybody', she said." 
Nevertheless, Tebaldi apparently felt that the public perception of a rivalry was ultimately good for both their careers, since it aroused so much interest in the two of them.     







Renata Tebaldi - Aida
libretto
photo by Styrous®






Tebaldi retired from the stage in 1973 and from the concert hall in 1976. By the end of her career, she had sung in 1,262 performances, 1,048 complete operas, and 214 concerts.

Tebaldi never married. In a 1995 interview with The Times, she said she had no regrets about her single life.
"I was in love many times," she said. "This is very good for a woman." But she added, "How could I have been a wife, a mother and a singer? Who takes care of the piccolini when you go around the world? Your children would not call you Mama, but Renata." 

She spent the majority of her last days in Milan. She died on December 19, 2004, at age 82 at her home, in San Marino, Italy. She is buried in the family chapel at Mattaleto cemetery, Langhirano, Italy.   




Renata Tebaldi - Aida
libretto back
photo by Styrous®







Leontyne Price ~ A Christmas Offering            



Aida on YouTube:         
   (Act1 Scene2) - Part 1       
   (Act1 Scene2) - Part 2               

           

Renata Tebaldi ~ Aida is for sale on eBay        

       



Styrous® ~ Thursday, September 24, 2015 




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