Tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano has died today, after more than three years of serious health problems due to an attack he suffered during a vacation in Kenya in 2004.
An era ends.
More later on these not unexpected but very sad news.
We knew that il maestro was very, very, desperately ill since that savage attack in his villa shortly after Christmas 2004, but the pain is still so present: the world loses one of the most beautiful -- yes, simply beautiful -- voices of the twentieth century, loses Di Stefano's charisma, the sheer power of his stage presence and the dramatic impact of his interpretations.
To add that he led a life full of joy but also of sorrow -- the loss of his daughter -- only makes the pain sharper. We wish that a man who gave so much joy to so many people for so many years -- a man of the South happily hungry for life who nevertheless carried his greatness so lightly that he liked to constantly pull pranks backstage, memorably making the fastidious Northerner nobleman Luchino Visconti furious the time when Di Stefano sprayed everybody with water thanks to a silly prank tie -- we wish such a man, who also lived a life of private generosity, had been spared the horror of burying his child, and had been granted a less painful exit from this world.
We have recently lost Luciano Pavarotti, that other giant, and we have recently commemorated the loss, 30 years ago, of Maria Callas. Maestro Di Stefano, whose recordings will survive as long as classical music is still listened to, belongs in the company of those giants, and with them he will always be remembered.