Friday, September 12, 2014

Callas And Tebaldi Still Rivals Thanks To Their Record Labels

In the 1950s, two sopranos reigned supreme at the premiere opera houses of the world: Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas. There was overlapping repertoire between the artists and both sang in many of the same venues. Was there a real rivalry between these ladies or was it all salaciousness spurred on by the media? "Though many of the stock obituaries of Tebaldi characterized her rivalry with Callas as trumped up by the press, there was, in fact, much truth behind it - and it says much about who Tebaldi was and what she represented. Problems started in 1950, according to Robert Levine's clearheaded book Maria Callas: A Musical Biography (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers), when the two were alternating performances of La Traviata in Rio de Janeiro. At a gala concert, they sang their scheduled arias, and despite a no-encores agreement, Tebaldi sang two. When the two appeared at social occasions, it got ugly. Later, management favored Tebaldi over Callas, and the latter was fired - no doubt traumatized. After the two became more established, Callas was quoted as saying, 'If the time comes when my dear friend Renata Tebaldi sings Norma or Lucia one night, then Violetta, La Gioconda or Medea the next - then and only then will we be rivals. Otherwise, it is like comparing champagne with cognac. No, with Coca-Cola.'" [Source] Fans became divided and the general
Diva Love: Tebaldi (left) and Callas in 1968
sentiment for hearing Verdi's La Forza del Destino at the time was: If you want to hear Leonora sung beautifully listen to Tebaldi, if you want to know the fate of Leonora listen to Callas. Whatever the real story, the true details are taken to the beyond since both have long since passed on. During their careers, the media scandals did serve to bring the two singers much more attention in the public eye. That legacy lives on. As previously announced, Warner Classics will release the complete discography of Maria Callas with a new remastering of the original tapes. Decca Classics will match that by offering a limited edition 66-disc box set of the complete Renata Tebaldi recordings for the label. The international release date is October 31, 2014. Order your copy now by clicking here. See a few more pictures of La Tebaldi after the jump.

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