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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Arrivederla Signore Di Stefano

I mentioned Giuseppe Di Stefano here a little more than a year ago. He passed away Monday at the age of 86. He is one of my favorite opera singers. But not only mine:

He died at home, near Milan, the city he is associated with in the public mind. But the Siciliano will always show through if you look for it. His motor ran hot.

The end of this recording is a little hinky, but listen to him perform the familiar Nessum Dorma from Turandot.

He burned very brightly for a short time, abused himself and his gift, and generally had a hell of a time. People in the audience often think that if they were given the gift of the man on the stage they’d know what to do with it, and not waste it like so many do. That is one reason you are in the audience. The advice of the timid is of no use to the daring; and it is a daring thing indeed to sing a serious thing in an important place in front of an expectant, cultivated audience.

This is as common a piece to listen to as there is in opera. Che gelida manina (How cold is your hand!) from Puccini’s La Boheme. I’ve never heard it sung in a more compelling way than this:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

His hand is cold now, too. His soul never was.

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