Renata Tebaldi as Adriana Lecourvreur

Adriana Lecouvreur is a role that is synonymous with the name Renata Tebaldi.  Her studio recording, with Mario Del Monaco an unsubtle but exciting Maurizio, is still available on disc and represents Verismo singing at its blood and thunder best.  Along with the louder more dramatic moments there are those of intense quietude and beauty, mostly from Tebaldi, but there is something about the chemistry between these two verismo stalwarts that really is quite thrilling.  One wishes for voices like this today, current fashion seeming to have left this genre of opera out of vogue, but it can also be seen as a reflection of modern singing techniques and standards.

La Tebaldi first performed the role on 26th December 1952 at the Teatro San Carlo, Naples, under the baton of Gabriele Santini and proceeded to sing a further 51 performances over the rest of her career. 

Tebaldi was highly praised by Francesco Cilea, the opera composer for her portrayal of the humble Diva  and is largely responsible for the opera’s revival at the Metropolitan Opera, in a new production mounted specifically for her by Rudolph Bing for the 1968 Season.  Interestingly, her Maurizio’s for this season were Franco Corelli, nearing the end of his career, and  a young Placido Domingo, then at the very beginning of his.

We are fortunate that during this time, La Tebaldi was a frequent guest on the Bell Telephone Hour, and a filmed performance in costume of the Act 1 aria, Del Sultano Amuratte.. Io Son L'Umile Ancella, was broadcast on the 3rd March, 1961.

This is now available on DVD along with pretty much all the remaining film footage of Renata Tebaldi, including a complete Act 2 of Tosca, filmed for Television in black and white, it is stunning!  But that is a story for another time and so is a more complete biographical picture of my beloved Diva.