Notes and Editorial Reviews
Verdi’s last opera, written when he was approaching eighty, was only the second comedy of his long career, following the ill-fated Un giorno di regno of fifty years before. His friend and collaborator Arrigo Boito, who had with some difficulty talked him into composing Otello several years earlier, now had an easier time convincing him to crown his glory with one more tribute to his beloved Shakespeare. The three principals are all famous portrayers of their roles, aided by an outstanding supporting cast. Mariano Stabile was a veteran Italian basso buffo who had the role of Falstaff in his belly, if not his bones. Renata Tebaldi was the most famous Italian lyric soprano of her era and she remains, along with Maria Callas, the most loved
soprano of recent years. Cesare Valletti was a tenore di grazia, a tenor with a light, flexible head voice of exquisite beauty. Live performance, Milan, May 26, 1951.
R E V I E W:
"Verdi's Falstaff turned 100 years old last February, but continues to sparkle, even in this dim-sounding aircheck. Despite the problematic sound—marred by transmission hum, congestion that too often makes it hard to tell just what the orchestra is doing (the amount of detail that does emerge is testimony to de Sabata's extraordinary comprehension and quicksilver conducting of the score), and the fact that the voices are so often hard to hear—listening to this 1951 Scala production is a consistently invigorating experience. Two weeks after his sixty-third birthday, Mariano Stabile (who can also be heard in a 1937 Salzburg aircheck under Toscanini) remains unfailingly sensitive to Falstaff s every word and gesture, bringing the title character consistently to life from one moment to the next, with a spectacular sense of connection to everything going on around him. At the same time, this is a real ensemble performance, as Falstaff needs to be; it probably doesn't hurt that this is an all-Italian cast. Too bad there's no way to recapture the stage business that so audibly and frequently delights the audience; for example, I'd give anything to see, as well as hear, Stabile's delivery of Falstaff's “Lo so“ (“I know“) when Quickly praises his seductive powers in their second-act exchange. Unfortunately, I must reiterate that the sound is a real problem: this can really be recommended only to collectors. But then again,there are also things the likes of which you won't hear elsewhere, like de Sabata's way with the string accents and portamentos in the final exchange between Falstaff and Ford at the end of act II, scene i. So weigh the pluses and minuses for yourself; you probably won't be disappointed. "
-- Marc Mandel, Fanfare [11/1993]
Reviewing earlier release of this recording, Memories 4500
Works on This Recording
Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi
Renata Tebaldi (Soprano),
Paolo Silveri (Baritone),
Mariano Stabile (Baritone),
Silvio Maionica (Baritone),
Giuseppe Nessi (Tenor),
Mariano Caruso (Tenor),
Alda Noni (Soprano),
Cloe Elmo (Mezzo Soprano),
Anna Maria Canali (Mezzo Soprano),
Cesare Valletti (Tenor)
Victor De Sabata
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1893; Italy
Date of Recording: 05/26/1951
Venue: Live Milan, Italy
Falstaff Act: I: Falstaff!?Olá? Sir John Falstaff!
Falstaff Act: I: Sei polli: sei scellini
Falstaff Act: I: Ma é tempo d'assottigliar l'ingegno.
Falstaff Act: I: L'Onore! Ladri!
Falstaff Act: I: Alice? Meg? Nannetta
Falstaff Act: I: In due parole
Falstaff Act: I: Del tuo barbaro diagnostico
Falstaff Act: II: Siam pentiti e contriti
Falstaff Act: II: Alice é mia!
Falstaff Act: II: Signore, v'assista il cielo!
Falstaff Act: II: É sogno o realtá?
Falstaff Act: II: Presenteremo un bill
Falstaff Act: II: Fra poco s'incomincia la commedia
Falstaff Act: II: Quand'ero aggio
Falstaff Act: II: C'é? C'é? Se t'agguanto!
Falstaff Act: III: Ehi! Taverniere!
Falstaff Act: III: Reverenza. La bella Alice?
Falstaff Act: III: Sarai la Fata Regina delle Fate
Falstaff Act: III: Dal labbro il canto estasiato vola
Falstaff Act: III: Una, due, tre
Falstaff Act: III: Ninfe! Elfi! Silfi! Doridi! Sirene!
Falstaff Act: III: Alto lá!
Falstaff Act: III: Ogni sorta di gente dozzinale
Falstaff Act: III: Facciamo il parentado
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