Tebaldi and Verdi

Renata Tebaldi has declared more than once that she considered the performance at the end of 1945 in Trieste, when she sang in the role of Desdemona in Verdi’s “Otello”, her debut on the scene.
From that moment to her last performance (once again as Desdemona at the Met in 1973), she played eleven characters of Verdi’s operas. Tebaldi’s voice was between lyric and dramatic, a particularly suitable one to enhance the chaste passion of late Verdi’s female heroines characterised by indefinite sensuality behind perfect dignity.
Maybe it was for the rare clearness of their timbre or the roundedness of their cavata or the incredible softness of their voices, but it is hard to deny Verdi’s women the definition of passionate angels, in the way Tebaldi used to present them. Should we want to bow before the suggestion of her angelic name, we could try a game-challenge and gather all Verdi’s characters under this common denominator starting right from the emblematic Desdemona:

Desdemona, the offended angel  (clicca qui)
Violetta, the fallen angel (clicca qui)
Alice, the impudent angel (clicca qui)
in ‘Messa di Requiem’, the penitent angel  (clicca qui)
Aida, the angel of nostalgia  (clicca qui)
Giovanna d’Arco, the warrior angel (clicca qui)
Leonora di Vargas, the wounded angel  (clicca qui)
Maria Boccanegra, the peacemaking angel (clicca qui)

In order to complete the analysis of Verdi’s characters, as Tebaldi interpreted them, we should mention the other three that the soprano did not sing onstage but only in recording studios: Leonora (“Il Trovatore”), Elisabetta di Valois (“Don Carlos”) and Amelia (“Un ballo in maschera”). It will be enough to say that Tebaldi gave a wide and sweet vocal rendition of these three heroines, never apart from the fascination of her peculiar lyric effusion and voice expansion, besides, of course, the above said common denominator of angel traits and sacrificial sensual pleasure.

Vincenzo Ramón Bisogni
August 2013