Tebaldi remembering PTC5187070

Remembering Tebaldi
Melody Moore (soprano)
Melinda Duffner(mezzo-soprano), Radu Cîmpan (tenor), Ştefan Muţ (bass)
Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir
Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra/Lawrence Foster
rec. 2022, Radio Studio of Radio Cluj, Romania
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
Reviewed as download from press preview
Pentatone PTC5187070 SACD [64]

The legendary Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi was born on 1 February 1922; consequently her 100th anniversary was celebrated last year. In July of that year, American soprano Melody Moore recorded this tribute to her great predecessor with these fourteen arias from Tebaldi’s repertoire. For many opera lovers, including myself, Tebaldi’s readings are forever etched into our musical consciousness as the ideal: beautiful, rounded tone, perfect legato, glorious fortissimos, and those marvellous ethereal pianissimos; add to this expressive phrasing and power of insight. Her closest rival in the 1950s, Maria Callas, may have been an even greater actor but was more variable as a pure singer. Both singers still stand, after more than a half-century, as untouchable icons, against whom any newcomer has to be measured. Many marvellous sopranos have come and gone since the heydays of those icons and made their imprints – but still their position at the top of the Pantheon is undisturbed. One of the latest pretenders is Melody Moore. She first came to my attention via a DVD of La bohème from ENO almost 15 years ago, in which her Mimì was superb. I wrote then: “The real star of the performance is however Melody Moore as Mimì… she is mild and vulnerable, perfectly suited to the role of the little seamstress, and her voice, a lirico-spinto of rare beauty with power in reserve for the big utterances and sensitive to the soft nuances as well, should, if there is any justice in this world, take her to the top of the trade.” Well, she is now there, as her achievement in Pentatone’s Otello a handful years ago was ample proved: “Desdemona is a mild, enamoured young woman who doesn’t really understand what is happening to her husband, but these feelings are very well expressed in Melody Moore’s enchanting reading of the role. I don’t know if she has studied Renata Tebaldi’s portrayal of Desdemona, but in the first act duet I seem to recognise quite a lot of the same phrasing…Like Tebaldi she has a ravishing pianissimo and when on her own in her bed chamber before the murder she sings a wonderfully hushed Willow Song, with a brilliant Ah! Emilia, addio and an Ave Maria that not even God could have resisted.” After that ,she featured in several further complete sets, so she is well established by now. 

As I wrote in the Otello review she has a lot in common with Tebaldi, and listening through this recital I hear those Tebaldi characteristics I listed above time and again. In my notes, I scribbled “rounded tone à la Tebaldi” about the opening aria, “L’altra notte from Boito’s Mefistofele. In Suzel’s delicious “Son pochi Fiori” from L’amico Fritz – a role Tebaldi never recorded – not in the studio anyway – I commented on her “phrasing, insight, and golden tone”. “Ritorna vincitor” was both “impressive, glorious and superb”. In my notes, I observed the legato in Catalani’s “Ne andrò lontana”. In the masterly “Pace, pace, mio Dio” from La forza del destino, I savoured her “ravishing diminuendo”, but also the “brilliance and power”. “In quelle trine morbide”, from the last act of Manon Lescaut, is both “girlish in tone” and “vulnerable” – the latter adjective also applicable for “Addio del passato” from La traviata, where I also noted her “identification” and the “touching pianissimo” at the end. Cilea’s “Io son l’umile ancella” from Adriana Lecouvreur was sung with “silver tone” and in “Senza mamma” I again was impressed by “the marvellous pianissimo”. 

The last number of the programme is a song from Tebaldi’s last concert of Italian art songs at Carnegie Hall, Alessandro Scarlatti’s “Sento nel core”, here sung in a special arrangement by Job Maarse for soprano, oboe, and strings – a lovely conclusion to a lovely recital. 

It evokes memories of “la voce d’angelo” (the voice of an angel), Renata Tebaldi’s soubriquet, but, more importantly, it presents Melody Moore in her own right as a worthy inhabitant in the Pantheon of the present generation of sopranos. With first class support from the Transylvanian State Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra under veteran conductor Lawrence Foster, himself of Romanian ancestry, this is a disc that can be strongly recommended to all opera lovers. 

Göran Forsling

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Early period
Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)1 L’altra notte in fondo al mare (from Mefistofele)
Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)2 Son pochi fiori (from L’amico Fritz)
Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)3 La mamma morta (from Andrea Chénier)
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)4 Sì, mi chiamano Mimì (from La Bohème)
Toscanini and La Scala period 
Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)5 Dal tuo stellato soglio (from Mosè in Egitto)
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)6 Dignare, Domine – In te, Domine
(excerpt from Te Deum from Quattro pezzi sacri)
Giuseppe Verdi
7 Ritorna vincitor! (from Aida)
Alfredo Catalani (1854-1893)8 Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (from La Wally)
Metropolitan Opera period 
Giuseppe Verdi 9 Pace, pace, mio Dio (from La forza del destino)
Giacomo Puccini 10 In quelle trine morbide (from Manon Lescaut)
Giuseppe Verdi11 Addio, del passato (from La traviata)
Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)12 Io son l’umile ancella (from Adriana Lecouvreur)
Giacomo Puccini 13 Senza mamma (from Suor Angelica)
 Last concert of Italian Art Songs at Carnegie Hall
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)14 Sento nel core (Arr. by Job Maarse for soprano, oboe and strings, 2021)