Music: The Halftone Crisis

Even the great Caruso sometimes sang Rodolfo's Che gelida manina aria from La Bohème a halftone down from the high C that Puccini's score calls for—and Puccini wrote a letter saying he liked it better that way. But when Italy's beloved tenor Giuseppi Di Stefano showed up at La Scala to rehearse Rodolfo in a new production of La Boheme under Austria's Herbert von Kara Jan. he was stopped by La Scala's tearful manager. "Oh, dear Di Stefano," said the manager, "Von Karajan doesn't want you because you sing the Che gelida manina a halftone down."

Such an insult was certain to...

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