1913 - 1995
by movies, Cetra recordings, and the reports of GIs who had heard him in
Italy, Ferruccio Tagliavini arrived at the Metropolitan Opera on
January 10, 1947.
in La Boh'me opposite the Mimi of Licia
Tagliavini was rapturously received by a public starved for the
sound of an Italian tenor. Even the critics
Virgil Thomson reported in the Herald Tribune: "He sings like a young man
who enjoys singing and who is neither afraid of high notes nor especially
proud of them. [The top note in "Che gelida manina" was B natural
rather than C.] He has reserves of energy and a great naturalness.
Not in a very
long time have we heard tenor singing at once so easy and so adequate.
He makes no attempt to sing like a baritone, and neither does he
croon. At least he did not last night. He even at one point sang a genuine
open-throated pianissimo, the first I have heard in Thirty-ninth Street
since I started reviewing opera six years ago. So sound an artist could
go far. Without going any farther than he has done so far he can
give great pleasure to anybody who likes singing." In the Sun Irving
Kolodin was so carried away as to describe the performance of Boh'me
as "the best the old house has had in a decade at least." (He overlooked
the fact that in the last ten seasons Jussi Bjoerling had sung Rodolfo
with Albanese, Mafalda Favero, Jarmila Novotna, Bid Sayo, and Dorothy
seasons, Tagliavini sang ninety-five performances of nine roles. After
Rodolfo, his most frequent portrayal was Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Away for seven seasons, Tagliavini returned in the 1961-62 season to sing
in Boh'me and L'Elisir d'Amore with much of the sweetness and beauty
of his voice still present. His last appearance in New York
was in the 1980s when he sang a duet in concert with his colleague Giuseppe
di Stefano. Tagliavini sang the tenor part. RT