More divas

Victoria de Los Angeles, born November 1 1923; died January 15 2005, The Guardian, 17 January 2005Renata Tebaldi, born 1 February 1922; died 19 December 2004Now I feel bad. I forgot to mention that, in the last few weeks we lost two of the most important Old School opera goddesses of all time: Victoria de los Angeles and Renata Tebaldi. In their native countries (Spain and Italy respectively) they were practically worshiped. They were contemporaries of Callas and of comparable stature. They’re both in my record collection – de los Angeles on several super-cheap CDs probably given to me by my friend Paul who used to buy that sort of thing from a stall on Whitechapel Waste when he worked over the road at Eastside Books (her lovely Catalan songs seem to be unavailable but you can still get this fat collection of traditional Spanish song at and Tebaldi on heavy vintage vinyl probably bought from the quite amazing and precious Harold Moore’s Records in Great Marlborough Street when I worked next door at Marks and Spencer. Opera divas are no longer glamorous, remote figures, loved by millions from a distance – they’re struggling to retain their relevance, losing a lot of weight (well, most of them), doing Reality TV shows and charity concerts. They should be a protected species.

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