On the evening of 2 January Anita arrived at the San Carlo for her third recitation of the role and received long ovations at the end of acts one and two. While she was resting in her dressing room during the second interval, a frantic phone call was received from Guido Sampaoli of the Rome Opera. Maria Callas had just abandoned the stage of the Teatro del Opera at the end of act one, with the president of Italy in the audience. Anita would have to perform the role there on the evening of the fourth. The audience at the San Carlo had already heard about the events at Rome and there were overwhelming demonstrations after acts three and four, partially ignited by anger toward the Greek “interloper”.
It remains unclear to this day as to who fired whom, but the official story stands that Callas’ “insult” could not be tolerated and her services were no longer needed. It ended years later in litigation and Maria was ultimately exonerated.
In any case, Anita reluctantly agreed and on the evening of 4 January, she received an ovation only equaled at Barcelona a year earlier. The performance is known to all collectors of vocal art. It shows Cerquetti in superb form and the audience in a mood to turn the evening into an unforgettable historical event, which is exactly what it was.