Giuseppe Di Stefano,


DVD HARDY Classics

There is almost no filmed recording of Giuseppe Di Stefano in his prime and what a pity that is. On this DVD too we have to do with the tenor most of the time lipping (and not tiring himself overmuch in creating a simulation of live singing) to his older recordings. Therefore it is nice to see him in Rigoletto or La Bohème but the real thing it is not. The Sicilian song Abbalati is one of the two live exceptions. One cannot overlook the little black spot in the corner of the picture that betrays the fact this piece was pirated from a TV-station (probably the German ZDF). The other live piece is an Italian song crooned during a long and almost interminably boring broadcast of the 1959 RAI-show Il Musichiere (= Name that tune). A recording not to be missed however is Di Stefano’s “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” from Lehar’s Das Land des Lächelns. He sings it very well in Italian though one almost doesn’t hear it while any normal person will be watching with open mouth the most ridiculous costume, headdress, moustache etc. I remember having ever seen on a major singer. His aria from Zeller’s operetta Der Vögelhandler is new and probably derives from a RAI series that gave us Franco Corelli in Die Rose von Stambul as well (also on Hardy classics dvd’s, ed.). The death scene from Lucia is an interesting one in so far that it derives from his only movie (1951). But the fine song “Un ladro d’amore” he sings in the movie is lacking. The red thread in the whole DVD is a long interview with the 77-year old tenor in 1997. The old rogue is completely at ease in front of the camera, smoking his eternal cigars and telling con gusto the stories of his youth. He remembers Callas as singing “like a man”, with the same energy. But there his reminiscences end and there is no word on his ‘affair’ with the soprano and the horrible tour of 73-74 which was done at his insistence as once more he needed the money for his gambling habits. All in all, a DVD  which is somewhat disappointing.

Jan Neckers, Operanostalgia