Italian baritone Tito Gobbi (1913–1984) made his debut in Rome in 1935, and had his first major success as Berg's "Wozzeck" at the Teatro Reale dell'Opera in 1942. An international star, he was well known in London and appeared regularly at Covent Garden from 1951 onwards, often in productions of Verdi. Gobbi can be seen here as Scarpia in Puccini's "Tosca", the role with which he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1956. Renowned for his acting ability and command of vocal colour, Tito Gobbi also had a highly successful career as a recording artist.
Leonard Boden RP (1911–1999) trained at the Glasgow School of Art. One of the most distinguished British portrait artists of the twentieth century, Boden's technique was to put the sitter at their ease with relaxed conversation. It is perhaps this that led to him receiving very high profile commissions: he was the only artist for whom Pope Pius XII sat, and he completed ten portraits of the Queen, who frequently confessed to preferring Boden's portrayals of her above all others. Boden was an opera lover who could count many musicians among his friends, including Tito Gobbi: others whom he painted include Sir John Barbirolli and Boris Christoff. Boden's portrait of Christoff as Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov hangs in the National Theatre Museum.