Sophia Loren & Renata Tebaldi
The first, maybe indirect, contact between the two great Italian stars dates back to 1952-1953, when Sophia Loren obtained the part of Aida in the film-opera directed by Clemente Fracassi. In that film young Sophia (she was only eighteen at that time) played the role of the main character dubbed by Tebaldi (who had refused to act in the movie and recorded only the soundtrack).
Renata Tebaldi praised Loren’s professionalism in several occasions as the movement of her lips was in perfect synchrony with the soprano’s voice: «Sophia was really beautiful and genuine… When I saw the film where I had given my voice to her I was amazed also by her talent. You could not realize she was singing in play-back, not even in close-ups».
The second official meeting occurred in Vienna in 1960 while Renata Tebaldi was working at the Staatsoper theatre with Corelli and Bastianini in Andrea Chénier conducted by Lovro von Matacic. The soprano took a short break to go on the set of Breath of Scandal directed by Michael Curtiz to greet the actress and meet Maurice Chévalier, co-protagonist of the movie.
In 1965, Renata and Sophia met on the set of Arabesque, starring Gregory Peck. They were both in London and Renata, who was there to record Don Carlos, did not want to miss the opportunity to pay a visit to the other international Italian celebrity (see attached photo).
In December of the same year, the two stars attended the premiere of the film Doctor Zhivago, produced by Carlo Ponti, in New York. One next to the other they looked magnificent: the actress was a true diva of the cinema in the USA, as well as the producer’s wife, while Tebaldi had been acclaimed “Queen” of the Metropolitan Opera House of New York.
Recently, Sophia Loren – who is mother to conductor Carlo Ponti jr. and whose mother was a pianist too – has been asked about her musical preferences. She answered she began her musical path from the very top thanks to Renata Tebaldi’s voice in Aida and with a wonderful smile she concluded: «What could I ask for more?».