Note from the author: Some materials in this article are excerpted from my work: Development of the opera in Iran and the activities at Tehran’s Theatre Roudaki (complimented with ballet), written in 1991, and protected under the copyright at the Library of Congress, Washington D.C.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Liliana Osses Adams

During my six years tenure at the Imperial Opera and Ballet Orchestra in Tehran, Iran, I experienced many unforgettable evenings at one time only existing Opera House Roudaki Hall. On September 10, 1972, I joined Tehran’s Opera, Talar-e Roudaki, named after Abu Abdullah Jafar Roudaki, the 10th century Persian poet. My engagement as principal harpist resulted from an agreement between the Polish Artistic Agency “PAGART” and the General Director of the Tehran Opera Company, Enayat Rezai. At the time of my departure from the Company on June 18, 1978, the Roudaki theatre – a non-profit organization subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and Arts – had ended its activities. On 1979, after the Islamic Revolution, the theatre known as Roudaki Hall (Talar Roudaki) changed its name to Vahdat Hall (Talar Vahdat), meaning Unity Hall.

The main auditorium in the Opera House Roudaki  Hall.
Roudaki Hall Archives. Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams

On October 26, 1967, in the day of the Coronation of Their Imperial Majesties – the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the Shahbanou, Empress Farah – the most anticipated event was the inauguration of Roudaki Hall, the first modern theatre built in the heart of the city. At the spectacular Gala Opening Night, the Opera Ensemble presented two operas inspired by Persian legend: Zaal and Roudabeh composed by Mr. Samin Baghchaban, directed by Monir Vakili, and Jashne Dahguan (Rustic Festival or The Peasant Feast), composed by Ahmad Pejman in the stage production of Enayat Rezai.

Their Imperial Majesties inaugurated Roudaki Hall, October 26, 1967.
Roudaki Hall Archives. Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams

For the next years, the gleaming, white marble building, set in a garden with murmuring fountains, became a permanent scene for Tehran Opera and Ballet, Tehran Symphony Orchestra, folkloric and classical solo recitals, and various cultural activities presented – in order to compile and develop the western fine arts into the traditional Iranian society – at the most thriving capital city in the Middle East.

Exterior view of  the Opera House Roudaki Hall.
Roudaki Hall Archives. Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams

Under the patronage of Their Majesties Pahlavi, Tehran’s Roudaki Hall attracted numerous guest artists, who regularly arrived about three weeks before the première to assure, without any doubt, the attainment of artistic preparation. The long list of well known artists included, among others: Tito Gobbi, Giorgio Tozzi, Cesare Siepi, Renato Capecchi, Robert Kerns, Guy Chauvet, Felice Schiavi, Michele Molese, Lino Puglisi, Carlo Bini, Victor Braun, George Pappas, Jean Dupouy, Pier Miranda Ferraro, Carlo del Bosco, Gianluigi Colmagro, Giancarlo Luccardi, Noel Jan Tyl, Rolando Panerai, Ugo Benelli, Jef Vermeesch, Mario d’Anna, Nicolai Ghuselev, Nicolae Herlea, Rudolf Holtenau, Vasile Moldoveanu, Nicholas di Virgilio, Gerd Brenneis, Robert Christesen, Leo Goeke, Delme Bryn-Jones, Maurice Maiewsky, Leonard Mróz, Edmund Kossowski, Debria Brown, Atsuko Azuma, June Card, Marcella Reale, Rose Wagemann, Marie Robinson, Rita Lantieri, Edy Letizia Amedeo, Maria Crisan, Ursula Schröder-Feinen, Sylvia Geszty, and Sylvia Anderson; conductors: Alberto Erede, Alfredo Gorzanelli, Nino Bonavolonta, Maurizio Arena, Jean-Pierre Jacquillat, Jan Popper, Kenneth Montgomery, Albert Rosen, Lee Schaenen, Hector A. Urbón, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Walter Hornsteiner, Christoph Perick, Matthias Kuntzsch, Tibor Pusztai, and Alun Francis; directors: Italo Tajo, Lotfi Mansouri, James Conrad, Wolfgang Siegfried Wagner, Bruno Santini, Alfred Wopmann, Federik Mirdita, Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, Vittorio Patanè, John Fraser, Wolfram Skalicki, Amrei Skalicki, Jan Biczycki, and Roberto Taddei, who directed his father, Giuseppe Taddei as Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerantola in February 1978.

During Iran’s National Festival of Culture and Arts at the Tehran’s Roudaki Hall, which began in the 1967-68 season and ended in the 1977-78 season, the Opera Company employed a permanent roaster of mainly Persian conductors, stage directors and set designers, dancers, choreographers, and singers, to name a few: Monir Vakili, Evelyn Baghcheban, Fakhereh Saba, Pari Zanganeh, Sudabeh Tadjbakhsh, Hilla Gharakhanian, Alenoush Melkonian, Ingrid Rezai, Nassrin Azarmi, Sudabeh Safaieh, Leonor Hajari, Sonja Karapet, Hossein Sarshar, Ahmad Parsi, Daniel Goujvin, Alek Melkonian, Enayat Rezai, Bijan Assefjah (Ahsefjah), Heshmat Sanjari, Loris Tjeknavorian, Ali (Alexander) Rahbari, Farshad Sanjari, Bijan Setayesh, Farhad Meshkat, Najed Ahmadzadeh, Aida Ahmadzadeh, Bijan Kalantari, Haydeh Changizian, Marion Delanian, Ali Pourfarroukh, Homa Partovi, Abdollah Hadji-Ghorbani, Mehdokht Nikbakht, and Pari Samar, a frequent guest and acclaimed Bizet’s Carmen.
The Tehran Opera Company added a roster of residing artists to whom we owed much gratitude for their outstanding contributions: Michele Casato, Manrico de Tura, Heinz Sosnitza, Karl Ernst Ackermann, Jean Paul Richter, Vincenzo Giannini, Heinz Arnold, George Pialoga, Jerzy Sypek, Theo Lau, Helen Ensha, Tashiro Ogawa, Carmen Osario, Elisa Chioreanu, and Luciana Serra – the leading Italian soprano.

The Tehran Ballet Company began its history when the Classical Ballet Ensemble – having its roots in the centuries old traditional Persian dances – was established by Dame Nanette de Valois in 1958 at Tehran. From 1965 until 1976, the chief ballet master and choreographer Robert de Warren and his wife assistant Jacqueline de Warren contributed to the development of the Iranian National Ballet Company at Roudaki Hall. Therefore the list of guest choreographers and dancers who shared their expertise with Tehran’s Ballet Company included, among others: Maurice Béjart, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, Birgit Cullberg, Anne Heaton, Patricia Neary, Dudley Davies, and Nicholas Beriozoff. At the present time in Sweden, the New Iranian National Ballet – under the name of Les Ballet Persan – directed by the Iranian born ballet master and choreographer, Mr. Nima Khian, continues its heritage by recreating in exile the old masters.

During the entire ten year history of Roudaki Hall, the invited and local Maestri often assured a remarkable and sometimes magical balance between the stage and the orchestra pit, molding a lively and constructively engaged artistic ensemble of soloists and comprimarios.

Through the seasons, Tehran’s Opera continued its practice to perform the operas in their original language: Italian, French, German, Russian, and Persian (Farsi) to the distinctly cosmopolitan audience.



I am thankful to Rudi Van den Bulck from Flanders, the Editor of Opera Nostalgia for his kind invitation to write my memoires, which I dedicate to the artists of Tehran’s Talar-e Roudaki, wherever they may be…

Remembering Giuseppe Taddei (1916-2010)

Tribute to an Artist
                                                                  " A man can die but once"
Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part II, Act III, Sc.II

For all of us, it is a great sadness to say goodbye to an artist who we knew and admired for so many years. A man can die but once…It’s true. But there are men who seem to be immortal and who will live in our memories for ever.

I met Signor Taddei in Tehran where he was a frequent and beloved visiting artist at Tehran Opera House. Between 1975 and 1978, Maestro Taddei portrayed in Tehran his life’s roles of Falstaff, Rigoletto, Gianni Schicchi, Don Magnifico, and Dandini, applauded with the same enthusiasm as in Vienna, San Francisco, and in the major opera houses around the world.


Giuseppe Taddei at Talar Roudaki, Almanac 1975-76.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams

After leaving Tehran in August 1978, my husband and I resided in San Francisco. On October 14, 1978, we went to the opera for Giuseppe Taddei’s performance as Baron Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, in a set designed by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. The cast of six performances at San Francisco War Memorial Opera House on October 14, 17, 20, 23, 25, and 26, included: Luciano Pavarotti as Cavaradossi, Monserrat Caballé and Gwyneth Jones (just for one matinee performance in October 29) as Floria Tosca, conducted by Paolo Peloso.

There were also two performances of Tosca on November 22 and 25, conducted by Paolo Peloso with Giorgio Tozzi as Scarpia, Juan Lloveras as Cavaradossi, and the legendary Magda Olivero as Tosca in her belated San Francisco début at the age of sixty-eight. The triple casted, sensational performances of Tosca given in the one opera season headlined the opera news for more than two weeks. In the theatre packed to the last seat, Magda Olivero was greeted by a frenetic crowd even before she sang her first Mario, Mario, Mario…

I wrote a review of the San Francisco Opera 1978 season with emphasis on the repertory of Tehran Opera House and my experiences as a child at Poznan Opera-Grand Theatre where my Father was an opera singer. The article was published in The Literary Life (Życie Literackie), March 18, 1979, Cracow, Poland.
Giuseppe Taddei as Scarpia, San Francisco, October 14, 1981.
San Francisco Opera Archives. Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams

In June 1981, my husband and I spent a few days with Giuseppe and Roberto Taddei in San Francisco.
The San Francisco Spring Opera presented Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Cesare Siepi as the Don and Giuseppe Taddei as Leporello on June 16, 1981. It was again a superb performance and a fifteen minute long curtain call.
On June 12, we paid a visit to Maestro’s apartment no.1703 at Fox Plaza, a few blocks walk from the Opera House on Van Ness Avenue. Maestro was enchanted with the breathtaking view over the city and vividly remembered his North American début in San Francisco in the title role of Verdi’s Macbeth on October 11, 1957, following performances at Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. However, Giuseppe Taddei’s much-praised Macbeth was overshadowed by Maria Callas, who had cancelled her performances as Lady Macbeth, and by the tremendous success of Leonie Rysanek, who, on short notice took over the role, when Maria Meneghini Callas was unprecedentedly fired by Kurt Herbert Adler, then the Opera’s artistic director.
In the early morning of June 14, we took Roberto for a trip along the Pacific coast to Carmel, Big Sur and Monterey.

From right to left:
Roberto Taddei and Bruce Adams at Big Sur, California, June 14, 1981.
Photo: Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.

In the following days, Maestro Taddei sang five more Leporello’s under direction of Adam Fischer, who made his début in San Francisco.

Giuseppe Taddei autographed photo as Leporello.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.

During our residence in Vienna (1981-1986), Maestro Taddei signed and dedicated the photo, seen below, to my husband whom he called amicably: Herr Dottore.

Giuseppe Taddei autographed photo to Bruce Adams. Vienna 1981.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.

At his hotel apartment in the Mailberger Hof at Annagasse, a short distance from Vienna Staatsoper, I enjoyed meetings with Maestro and with his daughter Marina, and his darling grandson Luca. I held deep in my heart the gracious invitation of Maestro Taddei to celebrate the birthday of Herbart von Karajan in Vienna. I often received tickets from Maestro and seating in the first rows in the Vienna Opera, I was fortunate to hear Maestro Taddei in his signature roles of Falstaff, Scarpia, Rigoletto, Gianni Schicchi, Dulcamara, and Don Magnifico.
From October 22, through November 8, 1981, Giuseppe Taddei gave six performances in Vienna as Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La Cenerentola with Agnes Baltsa as Cenerentola, conducted by Roberto Abbado.

Giuseppe Taddei as Don Magnifico.  
Photo: Elisabeth Hausmann, Vienna.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.

On May 11, 15, and 21, 1982, Giuseppe Taddei appeared in Vienna as Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, co-starring Ileana Cotrubas as Adina and José Carreras as Nemorino, conducted by Ralf Weikert.
On November 9, 1990, at the age of seventy-four, he gave his final operatic performance at Vienna Opera House in the role of Dulcamara.
Giuseppe Taddei as Dulcamara.
Lillian Fayer Photo Studio, Vienna.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.

For Giuseppe Taddei the role of Falstaff was not only his signature role. It can be fairly said that he was a quintessential character of the Shakespearian Sir John Falstaff. He was like a good soldier, blessed with God’s talents and intuition to fulfill his duty in the artistic fields. Verdi’s Falstaff, a fat knight was much aware that life is a charade. Silly yet loveable, he ultimately wins sympathy. His previous action as a solder had earned him wide respect but he seems to have become a scapegoat after a debacle, although he never acted with cowardice. His deliberate trickery, his frankness in life (not so much honesty), his grinning self-determination and self-observation, his cruel mystification let him finish his acts with the following: Tutto nel mondo è burla. (Everything in the world is a jest…a joke).

Giuseppe Taddei recorded his first Falstaff in 1949, conducted by Mario Rossi in Turin, followed by a 1956 recording with Tullio Serafin in Milan. Subsequently, he recorded Falstaff in Vienna with Herbert von Karajan in 1980, then with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1981 during the Salzburg Festival, and then the performance on stage at Salzburg was videotaped in 1982. In June 1990, Giuseppe Taddei sang his last Falstaff at the Vienna Opera House, after forty-four years of an astonishing and celebrated career.


Giuseppe Taddei as Falstaff. Lillian Fayer Photo Studio, Vienna.
Autographed: October, 20, 1981, Vienna.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.

On March 2, 1989, Giuseppe Taddei gave his final performance as Rigoletto at Vienna State Opera where he had appeared for the first time on May 28, 1946. It was his 37-th performance in the role of the hunchbacked jester who suffering from a terrible curse, tragically descended into evil and revenge. The relation between a father and a child always reminded him of his beautiful daughter.

From right to left:
Neue Kronen Zeitung, March 5, 1989, Vienna;  
Kurier, March 7, 1989, Vienna.
Courtesy Liliana Osses Adams, private collection.


Due to the present political situation in Iran and inability to reach the Archives in Tehran – apparently destroyed in the wake of the Islamic Revolution – the existence of Roudaki Hall Opera House seems to be almost and completely unknown to the outside world and to the public-at-large.