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DI STEFANO, Giuseppe: Neapolitan Songs (1953-1957)

Artist(s) Olivieri, Dino, Conductor • Studio orchestraDi Stefano, Giuseppe, tenor
Period(s) 20th CenturyClassical (1750-1830)ContemporaryRomantic
Genre Classical Music
Category Vocal
Catalogue 8.111340
Label Naxos Historical
Quality   320kbps
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One of the most charismatic stars of the post-war operatic stage, the Italian tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano made numerous recordings, and was especially renowned as the performing partner of the equally fiery soprano, Maria Callas. Having earned a precarious living as a singer of popular songs in Milan during World War Two, Di Stefano was also a highly accomplished singer of lighter music. This experience, allied with the natural richness of his tenor voice, made him a master of the Neapolitan Song, as may be heard in this collection of his recordings of the cream of the repertoire, made at the peak of his career.


Review By David Denton,Naxos,May 2009

During the Second World War the young Giuseppe Di Stefano earned his living as a singer of popular songs in and around Milan, and continued that career when he escaped from the war to live in Switzerland. His subsequent move to the world of opera and the fruitful relationship with Maria Callas has been well documented, and it would reveal a singer motivated from the heart rather than the head. He certainly throws himself with bountiful abandon into this recording of twenty-one Neapolitan Songs, most of them well-know and featuring Di Capua’s ‘O sole mio, Cardillo’s Core ‘ngrato, De Curtis’s Torna a Surriento, Cottrau’s Santa Lucia and ending with Tagliaferri’s Piscatore ‘e pusilleco, one of my particular favourites. There are some tracks, De Curtis’s Voce ‘e notte  being an example, where he feels for notes, intonation never being one of his major attributes,He is at his best when ‘crooning’, but in pressurising his voice there are coarse and ill-focused moments, a fact exaggerated as the original recordings suffered overload distortion in loud passages. The orchestrations do very little apart from offering judicious support, the unnamed ensemble sounding like a group of session musicians, the cymbal smashes quite dreadful. As a disc of light Italian music it has its moments, but it adds nothing to the reputation of this great operatic tenor. Recorded between 1953 and 1957, the sound quality is generally acceptable.  


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