66 CD’s
Euro 109 (price varies from sellers)

For the first time ever the "complete" Tebaldi-Decca recordings -except for the excerpts of Mefistofele with Di Stefano -are made available in one single box and I cannot recommend this new edition enough in spite of a few shameful deficiencies. Yet it was high time for a release as such as many of the Tebaldi recordings were not available anymore, especially the early pre-stereo work. Moreover the cost is ‘low’ and less than half the price of the Callas edition.
But here’s the caveat. If you already have all of Tebaldi’s recordings there’s absolutely no need to spend money on this new edition as the transfers have not been upgraded in comparison to the previous releases. The sleeves are not in the original covers but in those thin white  anonymous cardpaper envelopes which makes it difficult to keep order in the 66 CD’s but most probably done this way to hold costs down. There are no librettos which doesn’t really disturb me as she recorded standard operatic repertoire anyway except for La Wally or Mefistofele.

So yes the overall presentation is thoroughly standard, the booklet photographs are small, black and white and not of the best quality either.  Even the non-telling biographical outline by George Hall is “purloined” from a previous edition.
The box includes one bonus though which is the 1951 live performance of  the Verdi Requiem – a work she never recorded commercially - under De Sabata and which is in very good sound. Tebaldi is in divine form and the music ideally suits her effortless, fervent and soaring soprano  and delivers proof of the outstanding unique vocal miracle she was in those years.  Giacinto Prandelli who has a sweet, handsome, clear voice gives an impressive performance of the tenor’s part. Nell Rankin is more than just the trooper she so often is taken for; she is attentive to musical detail and the music doesn’t pose any difficulties to her secure mezzo but she remains  a bit generic when compared to other mezzos who recorded the part.  Nicola Rossi-Lemeni’s powerful  bass is in excellent form  and he is the only one on Tebaldi’s  level in terms of decibels.
De Sabata is slow-ish but achieves a far better and more compelling result than in his commercial endeavor.

So all-in-all  a good  opportunity to get all of Tebaldi’s Decca legacy at a very economical price but  do not expect more than just that.

Rudi van den Bulck, November 2014