rtebaldi.jpgItalian operatic soprano Renata Ersilia Clotilde Tebaldi had a voice that was praised by critics and conductors for its pure timbre, control and wide range.
Born in 1922, Tebaldi contracted polio when she was 3 years old. After recovering from the debilitating illness, she took piano and singing lessons at the conservatories in Pesaro and Parma, Italy.
Tebaldi made her professional debut in 1944 playing Elena in Boito’s ”Mefistofele” at the opera house in Rovigo, Italy. For the next three decades, she traveled widely and sang in some of the most noted opera houses, including Covent Garden in London and La Scala in Milan.
In 1950, Tebaldi made her American debut in San Francisco as Aïda. Five years later, she premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City as Desdemona. Tebaldi also signed an exclusive contract with Decca, and recorded most of her repertory for the record company.
Although the media frequently wrote about a bitter rivalry between her and Maria Callas, Tebaldi claimed she never felt any animosity toward the Greek leading lady. Callas, however, frequently compared Tebaldi to herself as “Coca-Cola to Champagne.”
In total, Tebaldi sang in 1,048 operas and 214 concerts. After experiencing problems with her vocal chords in the mid-1970s, however, she retired from performing and spent her final years teaching. Tebaldi was a Knight Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and received a Commander, Order of Arts and Letters from France.
Tebaldi died on Dec. 19. Cause of death was not released. She was 82.
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