6 December, Anita Cerquetti debuted as the Druid priestess at Barcelona’s
Liceo and it was, without question, the greatest triumph of her life. Her
first solo curtain call brought three thousand people out of their seats and
the ovation lasted for nearly an hour. The critics admitted that they simply
could not find words to describe the performances on either side of the footlights,
and Anita was compared to the likes of Malibran and Pasta by writers who could
find no contemporary equivalents. Mirto Picchi, who sang Polione in the revival
spoke of the event “There was delirium preceding the exit from the theater
and police were summoned to act as a cordon when (Cerquetti) made her way
to her hotel. Hers was the ultimate lyrica-drammatica Italian voice…”
Cerquetti closed out 1956 with a concert for RAI, which, for the first time allowed the world to hear her “O Re dei Ceili” from Agnese di Hohenstauffen. No singer has ever been so identified with one piece of music, and it remains for the author the single passage by which I would wish her to be remembered. There is simply nothing like it in the recorded annals of spinto vocalism. Or so we thought, until she made a commercial recording of the same aria a year later. What seemed impossible was very possible, in her hands. The later version is even more stunning.
Anita Cerquetti had reached the top of the highest mountain.