Artist Profile: Giuseppe Di Stefano, ‘The Most Beautiful Tenor Voice’ of All Time

By David Salazar

For many, there has never been a more beautiful lyric tenor voice than that of Giuseppe di Stefano. Luciano Pavarotti once stated that, “Di Stefano is my idol. There is a solar voice… It was the most incredible, open voice you could hear. The musicality of di Stefano is as natural and beautiful as the voice is phenomenal.”

Born on July 24, 1921, in a village near Catania, Sicily, Di Stefano actually contemplated priesthood in his early age. He served in the Italian military, but eventually turned to a career in opera, making his professional debut in 1946. A year later, he would appear at La Scala for the first time and by 1948, at the age of 27, he made his Met Opera debut.

He would go on to a tremendous career around the world and his recorded legacy would be forever entwined with that of Maria Callas, with whom he recorded a dozen or so operas.

In 1973, he went on tour with Callas, as she tried to make an ill-fated comeback. Callas’ career would end, but Di Stefano would continue singing until 1992.

In 2004, the tenor was injured in his home in Kenya. He was unconscious for a week after the attack and promptly underwent several operations. He was flown to Milan and went into a coma. He would pass away four years later.

He was the recipient of the gold Orfeo, an Italian Musical Award.

Major Roles

The tenor was renowned for taking on a wide range of repertoire, from lyric roles to more dramatic territory. But there are a few roles that undeniably defined his artistic legacy.

One of these the Duke of Mantua from “Rigoletto,” the role of his Metropolitan Opera Debut and one that seemed to suit his bright vocal timbre. Never did the tenor’s voice sound so fresh and easy as in this particular work and the recording that he left with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi remains one of the finest.

Speaking of great recordings, his collaboration on “Tosca” with Callas and Gobbi. Cavaradossi was another major role for the tenor. He made his Royal Opera House, Covent Garden debut in the role and would also record it a number of times.

Read More On Di Stefano

Explore His Glorious Art

Watch and Listen

Here are some duets with Renata Tebaldi.

And here is that legendary “Tosca.”


Opera Wiki