5 March 2014 at 10.58am | Comment on this article
Renato Cioni made his professional debut at La Scala, Milan, in 1961, and his Royal Opera debut the following year, singing the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. His international breakthrough, however, was made three years later when The Royal Opera cast him as Cavaradossi in Franco Zeffirelli’s historic 1964 production of Tosca with Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi.
John Tooley, then General Director of the Royal Opera House, recognized that to cast a relative unknown opposite two great stars was a risk. He later remembered, 'We need not have worried: Callas warmed to him, and went out of her way to help him come to terms with the challenge.' Cioni's commanding performances have become part of Royal Opera history.
Cioni returned for the 1965 revival of Tosca, singing opposite Marie Collier and Gobbi and later that year he created the role of Gabriele Adorno in Gobbi's new production of Simon Boccanegra, opposite Gobbi in the title role. In 1966 he returned to sing in revivals of both Tosca, singing with Collier and Gabriel Bacquier, and Simon Boccanegra, with John Shaw.
Cioni's final role creation was Alfredo Germont in Luchino Visconti's 1967 production of La traviata, singing alongside Mirella Freni as Violetta and Piero Cappuccilli as Giorgio Germont. But it was as Cavaradossi that Cioni made his final performance with The Royal Opera in 1969, again singing with Collier and Bacquier.
What are your memories of seeing Renato Cioni perform?