Baskerville Publishers, 1995
This is maybe the most renowned biography about Renata Tebaldi and I am persuaded that its fame is well deserved, because it describes with great care the most important aspects of Tebaldi’s life and career. Anyway, this is not a bare description, but the book is full of sympathy and esteem for Tebaldi. The biographer, as you may have argued, is very fond of her character, but this does not end in a long and (for us readers) empty panegyric and creates instead a pleasant atmosphere, that invites you to read.
In The voice of an Angel the heroine is a quiet, humble and reserved woman, the most remote figure you can imagine from the stereotyped primadonna. She is described from her childhood, remembering her meeting with the famous Carmen Melis, her first teacher, and her legendary audition with Toscanini, which launched her career. Part of this biography is reserved to the rivalry with Maria Callas, which is honestly described, even if the author sides with Tebaldi. Here it is also explained that Tebaldi’s farewell to the stage was not premeditated (she taught she would have sung again, after her concert at La Scala in 1976) or sad, because Tebaldi never regretted to have left the stage at that point of her career.
The musical universe is placed side by side with the private one, where we meet her mother, who is a little legend in Tebaldi’s life, and her father, with whom Tebaldi had a more difficult relationship. Lastly, you found also a polite account of her relationship with conductor Arturo Basile.