Vale Renato Cioni (April 15, 1929 - March 4, 2014)

Renato Cioni and Renata Tebaldi in La Boheme

My first operatic crush passed away yesterday, Renato Cioni.  A lyric tenor with a gorgeous legato he partnered many famous sopranos including Maria Callas, Renata Tebaldi, Magda Olivero, Anna Moffo and Renata Scotto to name but a few.

Probably most famous for his appearance in the Zeffirelli Tosca at Covent Garden with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi in 1964, he also recorded La Traviata and Lucia di Lammermoor with Dame Joan Sutherland in the early 60's.

It's Cioni's smile that got me, especially in the photos with Maria Callas from that famous Tosca.  The above photo from La Boheme with Tebaldi, shows exactly what I mean.  As a teenager I thought he was gorgeous and according to some sources Callas did too.  He was unfortunately overshadowed by a few other big name tenor stars of the day, Del Monaco, Corelli and Bergonzi especially, but his voice remains a wonderful model of the Lyric Tenor.

Below is the love duet from Madam Butterfly filmed with Anna Moffo on RAI Tetevision from 1956.  it is the perfect demonstration of how engaging he was as a leading man.  Rest in peace caro Renato Cioni.