Verdi: Otello - Di Stefano, Pobbe, Gobbi; Jensen. Pasadena, 1966


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I have heard about the existence of this recording for years but have never heard it myself.  From all accounts I was led to believe that the whole enterprise was ill-advised on Giuseppe Di Stefano's part given the decline in his vocal abilities.  Although it is true that there is much ware on his once beautiful instrument, I felt that this was still a very effective reading of one of the greatest tenor roles in the repertoire.  Despite the fact that his top sounds hard and labored, he manages all of the notes and more importantly brings his deep commitment to the part.  Di Stefano had the power to achieve such heightened levels of emotion that it becomes almost unbearable to the listener and Otello's anguish is palpable throughout.  Marcella Pobbe is near ideal in the role of Desdemona.  Her voice is pure with a hint of slancio making her outbursts in the Act III duet with Otello very exciting.  Tito Gobbi's glory days may also be behind him but he has no trouble rising to the high dramatic bar that Di Stefano sets and the two play off one another in their exchanges like the great actors that they are.  The sound is good although I must provide a few caveats about this recording.  It was the dress rehearsal and Marcella Pobbe takes sections of the concertante down an octave (Di Stefano on the other hand holds back nothing.)  There is a small break in the music at the beginning of Act III, scene ii and the entire first scene of Act IV is missing so I have substituted another recording featuring Marcella Pobbe.

OD 10588-2

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