Artist Profile: Soprano Renata Tebaldi, ‘La Voce D’Angelo’

By David Salazar

Renata Tebaldi, born on Feb. 1, 1922, was renowned as the “voce d’angelo.”

She was born to a cellist and nurse in Pesaro and became involved with music from a very young age. At 13, she was taking piano lessons and by 17 she was admitted into the conservatory.

Her stage debut came as Elena in “Mefistofele” in Rovigo in 1944; then she went off to Parma and caused a great commotion in Trieste in 1946 when she appeared as Desdemona. In 1946 she auditioned for Arturo Toscanini who gave her the compliment of having the “voce d’angelo.” Her Teatro alla Scala debut would come in a concert that year and she was given roles in 1946. It was Toscanini that convinced her to take on the role of “Aida” and in 1950, she made her role debut at La Scala alongside Mario del Monaco and Fedora Barbieri.

Success in New York would come thereafter and for years Tebaldi would be one of the leading ladies at the Metropolitan Opera. She would perform there from 1950 through 1973; her debut and final performance were in the same role – Desdemona in “Otello.”

Tebaldi retired from the stage in 1973 and the concert hall in 1976. She died in 2004, leaving behind a legendary discography.

Major Signature Roles

Tebaldi sang a plethora of roles in the Italian repertory with a total of 1,048 complete opera performances to her name. There were two roles that she performed most often – Mimì in “La Bohème” and Tosca. She performed Puccini’s doomed bohemian 111 times in her career but Tebaldi took on the tragic diva 162 times in her career. Combined, those two roles made up 26 percent of her performances in her lifetime.

What is most stunning is that Tebaldi released seven commercial recordings of “La Bohème” and nine of “Tosca,” many of them live.

Read More on Tebaldi

Her Relationship With Two Puccini Operas

Watch and Listen

Here is a collection of albums (six hours of music) that features the famed soprano in a wide range of repertory.

Here’s her famous “Bohème” recording.


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