The Voice Course

A memory by Stella Salvati, a participant in the course


f I think of the International Voice Course given by Renata Tebaldi in San Marino in September 1985, a course which I had the honour and privilege to attend, I see not only the bygone days but especially what this experience meant for me. I was admitted after a competition and I still feel in me the incredible emotion of singing in front of the greatest singer in the world.
Going back to those days, the first word I remember is generosity. The generosity of this unique artist, who knew just one way to live: giving herself, her voice, her advice, her energy and her time.
During those weeks the relationship between all the students and Renata became stronger and stronger as la Tebaldi had the rare gift of gathering people, making them amiable and kind despite the inevitable difficulties due, for example, to linguistic misunderstanding.
The days passed in a very regular but always different way and, step by step, we all understood that we had become friends. When it came to singing, Renata did not know tiredness, hunger or thirst. Every time we asked to extend a lesson or to anticipate it to “steal” some minutes of her great experience, she never said no. She enjoyed also performing the most difficult passages, which, thanks to her “superhuman” voice seemed so easy to sing. She tried all the roles, Carmen or Dalila for example, and to all those characters she gave a special charm.
The other great secret of Renata was her extreme simplicity: nothing was fake or prearranged. She had the wonderful ability of being always the same, on the stage and in life. She has always had the same transparency which guided her when she wanted to take us into the world of Art or spend a pleasant evening with us, sitting around our table as one of us.
And this was also her greatness. A young among the young, a friend with her friends, absorbed in prayer in church where she added her precious voice to the simple chants of the other worshippers.
After many years, her memory is still vivid yet full of nostalgia.
Technical and interpretative advice became reality through her examples. The woman and the artist were perfectly one in her in surprising unity. Something which has never happened again in the world of Art.
Another course followed this “magic” moment in autumn. It was only for a few of us and it was even more suggestive. Such a small group and the enchantment of the place increased the intimacy of friendship and I was doubly happy because the accompanying pianist was my mother, Rosina Bernabei, a famous concert artist and a fan of Renata Tebaldi.
I know that the artistic and human experience of those unrepeatable days will remain indelible in my memory.
Thanks Renata, unforgettable teacher, precious friend, true great Artist.