Renata Tebaldi and Jussi Bjoerling in O soave fanciulla La boheme Act 1
Next Monday (Dec. 19) marks the passing of the great Renata Tebaldi (Feb. 1 1922 - Dec. 19 2004), arguably the most beautiful soprano voice to have come out of Italy in the second half of the 20th Century. She made her debut as Elena in Boito's Mefistofele in 1944, and bid farewell to the stage in 1976. The Tebaldi voice in its prime was noted for its opulence and velvety timbre. Never a great actress, Tebaldi did all her emoting through her voice. It is often said that she and Maria Callas were polar opposites when it comes voice and theatricality - Callas was fiery and dramatic but her instrument was imperfect, while Tebaldi possessed a gorgeous instrument but she was not an inspired actress. To remember her passing, here is the duet that ends Act 1 of La boheme, with Tebaldi and the great Swedish tenor Jussi Bjoerling. It was filmed by NBC in 1955 - poor picture quality but what star power!
Joseph K. So