In remembrance of Renata: The Foundation

During the period of this friendship, we often asked ourselves what the future of Opera would be in the light of the situation at that time. What expectations could the bel canto arise in the following years?

And in the twist of a number of varied considerations, most of which were actually based on the great experience and deep knowledge of those who had turned that passion into a job and art, the proposal of creating something concrete sprang up: it had to be the everlasting reflection of Renata’s example and memory.

The idea of establishing a foundation grew and was shaped on grounds which were only apparently different from one another because they all converged on similar cultural goals: a boost to introduce an added value into our society, in this case Opera, to open our musical sensitivity to wider horizons, starting from the premise that this could help refine our local cultural environment. At that time, the situation was not at all bad in San Marino as we already had the Music Institute, which had and still has enabled hundreds of young students to express themselves in art, sound and melody through its praiseworthy spreading of knowledge and training of professionals, which have radically changed things in San Marino.

But, above all, it was agreed that the aim of the foundation had to be that of highlighting and making indelible the relationship between Renata Tebaldi and our homeland during her frequent visits and permanent stay which lasted over twenty years. She was not a common artist, she was “Great Renata”, the absolute protagonist of the Italian bel canto, as Prof. Bruno Cagli said. A unique voice “in the view of the best tradition” which spread the Italian bel canto all around the world.

Remembering Renata and her life fully dedicated to music would mean also promoting suitable top-quality initiatives aiming at discovering new talents among young performers in order to support them in their rising career. This idea has always been a key point boosting the great soprano’s thoughts, desires and generous humanity. She was always keen on listening to, evaluating and appreciating new talents then, on several occasions, she would give suggestions to them so that they could achieve better vocal and expressive skills, yet underlying the strong discipline which Opera demands. She was extremely coherent with this principle, as maestro Edoardo Muller has always stated: “her professionalism was free of any compromise”. But Tebaldi herself used to repeat it during the conversations with her friends: she would say she had to devote and commit herself totally to music since her early years as a necessary sacrifice.

On December 30, 2004, the Foundation was incorporated, with Renata Tebaldi’s authorization, and legally recognised on January 27, 2005.
The text of the original deed reads: “…with the aim of promoting a cultural activity and more precisely a singing competition dedicated to me, I am extremely happy and excited to take part in this initiative and therefore authorise the Promoting Committee… I further authorise the incorporation of a Foundation or Association having as its non-profit making purpose the future organisation of cultural events related to the organization of singing competitions in the Opera sector and, generally speaking, classical music contests dedicated to me as a person and an artist.”

A Promoting Committee was immediately created by Valentino Bertinotti, Augusto Ciavatta, Luigi Lonfernini, Rosolino Martelli, Pier Marino Reggini and Niksa Simetovic. When the Foundation was legally recognised, the Committee became its Board of Directors. Then, it came to include other friends like Aldo Simoncini, Barbara Andreini, Maria Chiara Reggini and it is right and proper to mention also a large group of women formed by Ernestina Viganò, Mirella Miriello Bertinotti, Wilelma Ercolani Lonfernini, Maria Grazia Fasola Martelli, Gabriella Merli Reggini and Drenka Drezga Simetovic, who gave their precious help to the Foundation during its very first steps. Also a number of volunteers have taken part in the project from time to time and they have done it free of charge with remarkable willingness.

Unfortunately, Renata could not see the first edition of the voice competition named after her.
After a period of decline of her health conditions, despite the treatments and the constant care of Tina and her closest friends, on December 19, 2004, at her house in Borgo Maggiore, the great artist and our irreplaceable friend died.

We participated in the funeral, first the solemn one in San Marino, attended by the local highest authorities, and then in Milan, where the citizens, people of the world of culture and fans coming from everywhere paid homage to the figure and memory of a woman who had marked the life of the city and not only.
Then, the body was buried in her family tomb in Langhirano, in the province of Parma, where she had spent the years of her youth. A visibly moved crowd was standing along the road during the final part of the funeral rite. The atmosphere was made even more touching by the fact that the local administration had ordered to broadcast Tebaldi’s singing to pay their last respects to their famous fellow citizen: every street, every square, every alley was filled with Renata’s voice…

Rosolino Martelli
Vice Chairman of the Renata Tebaldi Foundation