The Decca Mefistofele with Giuseppe Di Stefano
Posted by chris howell on July 1, 2018, 4:48 pm
In his review of "Great Scenes" from Mefistofele featuring Renata Tebaldi and Giuseppe Di Stefano, Göran Försling remarks: "The Decca was recorded in June/July 1958 with the above cast, but when it was issued in April 1959 the tenor was not Di Stefano but Decca’s regular tenor hero Mario Del Monaco. He had recorded his role between 24 August and 3 September 1958 and the reason for this has never been confirmed. Anyway fifteen years later Decca issued generous excerpts from the opera and then Di Stefano’s essays were finally unearthed". |
There was some discussion about this in Gramophone and EMG Monthly Letter of 1/73, when Decca issued extracts with this cast. There seems no doubt from these reviews that the recording with Di Stefano was never completed. Edward Greenfield's Gramophone review states that "all but a tiny fraction of Faust's part" was "safely captured". According to EMG, Di Stefano fell ill and so Mario Del Monaco was brought in to record the parts involving Faust. Greenfield, on the other hand, said he "would love to know" why the recording was not completed, "vocal rivalries being what they are". It is easy enough to imagine Del Monaco getting stroppy over his omission from a major Decca recording, but this is only speculation.
I think it is important that readers should not get the impression that Decca actually made two complete recordings of this opera. All the parts not involving Faust were recorded once only. The 1973 LP was a well-filled 63 minutes, so the remaining material bringing the Eloquence issue to 73 minutes - including, therefore, Tebaldi's "L'altra notte" - is exactly the same as in the complete set with Del Monaco.