Renata Tebaldi was born on 1st February 1922 in Pesaro, but she spent her childhood in Langhirano, in the province of Parma.
She began studying singing at Parma Academy of Music with Ettore Campogalliani, but she owes her training above all to the famous soprano Carmen Mlis, with whom she studied at the Liceo Musicale Rossini in Pesaro.
She made her debut on 23rd May 1944 at the Teatro Sociale in Rovigo as Helen in Mefistofele and the year after at the Regio Theatre of Parma (La Bohème, L’Amico Fritz and Andrea Chénier) and at the Verdi Theatre in Trieste (Otello).
On 11th May 1946, she took part in the re-opening concert of the Scala Theatre in Milan conducted by Arturo Toscanini who, following her performance of Verdi’s Te Deum, coined for her the nickname “Angel Voice”. In that same year, she premiered with a number of her best known pieces such as Lohengrin (Parma), Mefistofele (as Margherita, Milan), Tosca (Catania). In 1947, she was at the Scala theatre for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, later returning with various operas for nine seasons more, until 1960. She also performed at the Arena of Verona (Faust), Rome Opera Theatre and at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples (La Traviata and Tannhäuser), a theatre that was to become her Italian stronghold.
Along with major repertoire titles (besides the already mentioned Falstaff, Aida, Adriana Lecouvreur, La forza del destino, Messa da Requiem by Verdi), for a short period she also sang in several rare and subsequently abandoned roles such as Don Giovanni (as Donna Elvira, Lisbon, 1949), L’Assedio di Corinto by Rossini (Florence, 1949), Olimpia by Spontini (Florence, 1950), Julius Ceasar by Häendel (Pompei, 1950), Giovanna d’Arco by Verdi, Fernando Cortez by Spontini (both in Naples, 1951), Le nozze di Figaro (as the countess, Naples, 1952), Guglielmo Tell by Rossini (Florence, 1952), Cecilia by Refice (Naples, 1953), La Wally by Catalani (Milan, 1953), Eugenio Onegin (Milan, 1954).
In 1955, she made her debut at the Metropolitan Theatre in New York with Otello, and she was at home there until 1973, during which time she started an important career in the USA, singing new operas that later became part of her repertoire – Simon Boccanegra (San Francisco, 1956), Manon Lescaut (Chicago, 1957), Fedora (Chicago, 1960), La Gioconda (New York, 1966), La Fanciulla del West (New York, 1970). Invited to sing in all major international opera houses, despite her prevalent commitments in the USA, she often returned to Europe, to the Liceu Theatre of Barcelona (Madama Butterfly, 1958), to the Staatsoper Theatre of Vienna, to the Opéra Theatre of Paris, to the Covent Garden Theatre in London.
Her last Italian opera performance was at the San Carlo Theatre of Naples with Gioconda, in 1968, while her final goodbye to the stage was at the Metropolitan Theatre in 1973 with Otello. Her concert career continued in Italy and abroad. Her artistic career ended with a triumphant recital at the Scala Theatre on 23rd May 1976.
After returning to Italy, she divided her time between Milan and San Marino, where she died on 19th December 2004.