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Giuseppe di Stefano - one of the great Italian tenors

Giuseppe Di Stefano was born in 1921 and died in 2006. His post World War Two rise to international fame was about as fast as it could be, beginning with his 1946 debut at Reggio Emilia as Des Grieux in Manon, and then with the same role at La Scala a year later. He was a major star into the 1960's. But one recurring theme in criticism about Di Stefano is frustration that he squandered his gift. For example, one writer says this:

"…Di Stefano was the perennial “bad boy” of opera – a flamboyant, volatile, willful and sometimes erratic opera star, who enjoyed his position as a macho figure of undoubted attraction. He preferred the lifestyle of smoking and the fast track to that of a dedicated artist: by the mid-1960’s he was virtually a spent force, though he was only in his mid-40’s."

And that is all true. But what is also true is that his early recordings place him, for many, as one of the great tenors of the last century, no matter what else went on in his life.