Renata Tebaldi, soprano

Ciso and I got on like a house on fire right from the start. I always remember him as a real gentleman, smartly dressed and with an extraordinary presence on stage. He was – and still is – extremely sensible, polite, jovial and always smiling. I never once saw him upset or even slightly cross, not even during rehearsals. He always took in everything the maestro said. He was very meticulous – we werein fact very alike.

We also had a great time together, particularly on long voyages. When they found out who we were, they always got us to sing something. We did everything, not only opera. But it was mainly Neapolitan songs, accompanied by the little orchestra that was usually on board. We collected funds for seamen’s orphans. We spent a lot of time together, and there was Annamaria as well. They really are an exceptional couple, and they’re lucky to be so much in love.

We were very close, pleased for the success of the other. I remember once when Ciso told me that Maestro Toscanini also wanted me to audition for the inaugural concert at La Scala. We both sang in the end. We were so thrilled, and proud to sing with someone who had been in exile in America for so many years. So many Traviatas we sang in together, all over Europe, and also Adriana Lecouvreur at La Scala once. That was when one of his children was born, I remember now. He was a success in every role he played. He really got into the character, and put his heart and soul into it.

It was a great joy to work with such a kindly yet professional man, and the great thing about it is that we’re still close friends today.