Parigi, O Cara is a beautiful duet that occurs in the last act of Verdi’s La Traviata when Violetta and Alfredo are reunited after a long separation.

Parigi, o cara noi lasceremo,
la vita uniti trascorreremo.
de’ corsi affanni compenso avrai,
la tua salute rifiorira’.
Sospiro e luce tu mi sarai,
tutto il futuro ne arridera’.

Dearest, we shall leave Paris,
we shall spend the whole life together.
You will be rewarded of your suffering,
your health will bloom again.
You will be sigh and light to me,
all the future will be bright to us.

It requires beautiful phrasing and restrained lyrical emotion. Giuseppe Di Stefano was capable of all these vocal qualities, but he seems to have forgotten them or better not yet fully learned them on this performance of the duet taken from the great tenor’s first appearance on the Met’s Saturday afternoon broadcasts – 1949. The soprano, who is outstanding, is Eleanor Steber. Here Di Stefano has unsure intonation, his tempo is slightly off, and he seems generally tentative. The great voice is there, but it’s not yet what it was soon to be. Of course, it wasn’t long before he could deliver the requisite vocal virtuosity that this number need. Parigi, O Cara Di Stefano – Steber

To hear how the duet should be sung listen to this performance by Rosanna Carteri (who alas retired at age 35) and Cesare Valletti. This is from a studio recording made under the baton of Pierre Monteux. In its original release it came with a copy of Dumas’ novel on which he based his play which in turn was the origin of Verdi’s opera. The singing is perfect. It’s doubtful that Valletti could have sung the role in a large house like the Met, but here he’s wonderful. Parigi, O Cara – Carteri Valletti.

The baritone on this recording is Leonard Warren. The album seem only available at this time in an overpriced version. If you can find it at a reasonable price, I highly recommend it.