"GRAMOPHONE CONCERT RECORD
The Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd.,
and Sister companies.
TROVATORE (G. Verdi)
DESERTO SULLA TERRA
Comm. FRANCESCO TAMAGNO
Commendatore Tamagno begins this recording by dedicating it to the memory of his father. And then he sings "Deserto sulla terra" slower and more excitingly than any tenor I've heard... Heroic rather than melancholic.
Vero e proprio belcanto: Tamagno is an old-fashioned, nineteenth-century singer through and through, and this means his voice is used like an instrument (a trumpet), warmly and with passion. Exquisite line and color, maximum expressiveness (marcato, eroico, nobile), tasteful ornamentation and perfect legato are the hallmarks of belcanto.
In "Tro _ va _ tor" Tamagno omits the short trills, substituting triplets - a well-known tradition: Mantelli does it in "Stride la vampa" and Melba in "Caro nome".
"Dedico alla memoria di mio padre..." Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905) esegue la canzone di ingresso con tempo lentissimo, conferendo a questo andante una espressione più marcata, eroica, nobile, virile, insomma... una nenia cantata da un eroe di guerra, come del resto ci dice il personaggio stesso.
Il leggendario primo interprete (l’autore lo definiva, con infastidito sarcasmo, “Creatore”) di Otello incide a 53 anni, prossimo al tragico capolinea di una carriera durata più di un trentennio l’entrata di Manrico sfoggiando, assieme a una scansione musicale a volte discutibile (“deserto sulla ‘ terra”, “bello di ‘ casta fede”), una voce impressionante per proiezione e purezza timbrica e un’articolazione della parola, che consente di cogliere appieno il testo poetico. Presente all’appello, ovviamente, la puntatura finale al si bemolle.
"Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905) was an operatic tenor who sang with enormous success throughout Europe and America. On 5 February 1887, he cemented his place in musical history by creating the role of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello.
The most famous heroic tenor of his age, Tamagno performed in a total of 26 countries, garnering renown for the extreme power of his singing, especially in the upper register. Indeed, music critics often likened the sound of his voice to that of a trumpet or even a cannon ('tenore robusto' or 'tenore di forza').
Tamagno's vocal range extended effortlessly up to a resounding high C-sharp during his prime, but he was no mere 'belter' of high notes; for his recordings provide evidence of his ability, even at career's end, to sing softly when required, modulating the dynamic levels of his clarion instrument with remarkable skill and unexpected sensitivity.
Best known as the creator of the protagonist's part in Verdi's Otello at La Scala, Milan in 1887, he also was the first Gabriele Adorno in Verdi's 1881 revision of Simon Boccanegra, a far more lyrical assignment than the 'Moor of Venice'. He participated, too, in the premiere of Verdi's Italian-language version of Don Carlos when it was staged at La Scala in 1884 ( ... )
He was lauded, too, for his potent performances of such established parts as Manrico in Il trovatore, Don Alvaro in La forza del destino, the title role in Ernani, the title role in Poliuto, Arnold in Guillaume Tell, John of Leyden in Le prophète, Raoul in Les Huguenots, Vasco in L'Africaine, Robert in Robert le diable and Eleazar in La Juive. He excelled equally well in the newer dramatic parts of Radames in Aida, and Samson in Samson et Dalila. Yet, in his younger days, before his voice grew too robust, he was able to negotiate a role as light and graceful as that of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor due to his accomplished mezza-voce singing.
All up, Tamagno sang in approximately 55 different operas and sacred works (including Verdi's Requiem and Gioachino Rossini's Stabat Mater) during the course of his career as a soloist, which began in Turin in 1873 and continued for another 32 years, only to be curtailed by the onset of a cardiovascular affliction that would kill him in middle age. Interestingly enough, with one notable exception, Tamagno largely eschewed verismo opera, considering it to be an uncomfortable fit with his stylistic training in the bel canto tradition.
Critics occasionally reprimanded him, for striving to maximize the excitement factor of his performances by holding on to top notes longer than necessary and by sometimes pushing them sharp. He was also chided intermittently for getting behind or ahead of the conductor's beat ( ... )" From: