Giuseppe di Stefano at 23- Si vous l'aviez compris (Denza)
  • Classical music Giuseppe di Stefano (1921-2008) There are few things more pleasurable in the world of classical singing than the sound of the young Giuseppe di Stefano. His early recordings reveal a dulcet timbre- honeyed and bright, but not nasal- that fairly oozes Italianate warmth and charm. Di Stefano's initial attempts in front of the studio microphone date from 1944, two years before his actual stage debut (at Reggio Emilia, as Des Grieux in "Manon"). These took place during his post-military internment in Switzerland, when the tenor recorded operatic arias, as well as songs by Italian composers, for Radio Lausanne (he also made a few recordings for HMV during this time). Apparently, this material remained unreleased until the early 1970's, when EMI finally gave opera aficionados the chance to hear di Stefano's voice at peak freshness. A favorite of mine among the Lausanne recordings is "Si vous l'aviez compris" ("Had you but known"), by Neapolitan composer Luigi Denza, better remembered today for "Funiculì, Funiculà" and "Occhi di fata". The singing? It is nothing short of gorgeous- notable for its tonal purity and an interpretive approach that values simplicity and lack of affectation. It is hard to believe that recordings made less than a decade later would already show a voice starting to harden and coarsen, but at this point the sound is soft and caressing as can be. It has been claimed that di Stefano gave his first performance as Nemorino in a Radio Lausanne broadcast; I ...

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