A Must Have for Tebaldi Fans
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 09/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Decca has been perusing the vaults and re-releasing some classic recordings. Renata Tebaldi's CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL is one such recording. Originally released in 1971, it is a wonderful example of Tebaldi's artistry. While her voice is somewhat darker in this recording than in some of her earlier recordings, the arrangers seemed to know how to highlight Tebaldi's vocal majesty in tracks that suit her voice.
It is a standard operatic Christmas recording-traditional Christmas carols and some religious songs that are not necessarily Christmas pieces, but fit the mood of the holiday season rather well. Tebaldi sings reach track with ease. In some tracks we find the glory and artistry that is trademark Tebaldi, particularly when she sings "O Holy Night." We have renditions of both versions of "Ave Maria" (Gounod and Schubert). The Gounod is very well done. "Panis Angelicus" is heavenly. Her rendition of "O Divine Redeemer" reminds me of her Desdemona of OTELLO (the Karajan version with Mario Del Monaco in the title role) when she sings the "Willow Song" and then moves into the Hail Mary. To me, this is one of Tebaldi's greatest recorded moments. While the music differs, she performs "O Divine Redeemer" with the same intensity and feeling as her Desdemona. An added bonus is her English diction. I have become used to most operatic recordings of Christmas music having beautiful moments vocally, though the English diction is poor (Placido Domingo and Pavarotti's Christmas recordings quickly come to mind), but this is not the case with Tebaldi, who carefully sings each English word. It is perhaps attention to detail that makes this recording outstanding.
This recording is truly a classic and fortunately its re-release ensures it will be a favorite for years to come.
José Manuel Vizcaya | México, D.F. Mexico | 05/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite this album was recorded in the last years of Mrs. Tebaldi's career (1971), her voice still remains intact, sounding as warm as ever: like an angel!!! The arias and carols selected for the recording are excellent. This album will be a real pleasure in Christmas!! Enjoy it!!"
A Great Singer Past Her Prime
Colin Harrison | Washington, D.C. | 12/08/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sorry to be a dissenting voice, but this album was a bit of a disappointment. I greatly admire Tebaldi in her prime, unquestionably one of the great voices of the 20th century. But her singing by the time this album was made (1970) had acquired an unpleasant hard edge, and intonation was a frequent problem. Both of these problems are very much in evidence on this disc. Yes, the arrangements generally try and keep things low, but anything much above an F'' is hard on the ear, and the weight and density of her voice keeps dragging at the pitch. Some of the old vocal velvet remains, especially in the middle register, but too often the steel shows beneath the worn nap.
The selections are interesting, although hearing Tebaldi singing in German is quite an experience. The best selection is the lovely "Tu scendi," which Tebaldi makes quite charming. Her English can be cute as well, although no one would take her for a native speaker!
In short, this is for die-hard Tebaldi fans only. I prefer to remember a great singer by her better recordings. And I do wish Tebaldi had made this disc 10 or 12 years earlier!!"