A Tebaldi Memory

Paul Ouzts

[December 2004.]

My clearest memory of Renata Tebaldi traces back to a La Bohème in the Dade County Auditorium on a Saturday night in 1959. After the performance, I went backstage to get Madame Tebaldi’s autograph. She asked why I was smiling. I told her that this was my birthday and that I had never heard such music before. Madame Tebaldi returned my smile and began singing “Happy Birthday” in Italian. Before she finished, Giuseppe di Stefano walked over and joined her. When they’d done with the birthday greeting, they launched into “O soave fanciulla.” And that was my introduction to opera.

Imagine, having two of the world’s best singers taking the time to do something like that. It remains one of my warmest, favorite and most cherished memories. Today the memories flow along with the tears on the event of a marvelous singer’s death.

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