Renata Scotto needs no introduction. She is one of the greatest singers of the 20th century and she conquered many of the prima donna roles. On Feb. 24, Scotto will be 83 and at her age the Diva still continues to teach and give masterclasses as evidenced last month at the Opera Naples. In celebration of Scotto’s birthday, OperaWire looks at why Scotto was such a great artist and all the great things she brought to the art form.
A Committed Actress
Scotto considered herself an interpreter and most of all an actress. Her commitment to the text in each opera was important as it gave many of her characters subtext that sometimes was not clear with other performers. While she was not the type of actress that ran around, every single one of her gestures had a meaning. And when she sang with another artist, it was clear she was committed to working off that artist. You can see that in all her performances with Plácido Domingo, particularly the clip below of “Manon Lescaut,” one of her signature roles.
A Varied Repertoire
During our interview, the soprano stated that she sang a varied repertoire but she grew into the heavier repertoire as career developed. She started out as a lyric coloratura who sang operas like “La Sonnambula,” “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” I Capuleti e Montecchi” and “Lucia di Lammermoor.” She occasionally did “Madam Butterfly” while she was in the early part of her career. Once her high notes started to recede Scotto took on “Tosca,” “Il Trovatore,” “I Vespri Sicilianni,” “Macbeth,” the three heroines in “Il Trittico,” “Luisa Miller,” “Manon Lescaut” and “Un Ballo in Maschera.” She also took on “Norma,” even if it was not among her biggest successes. And in the later part of her career audiences got to enjoy her in “Der Rosenkavalier,” “La Voix Humane,” “Parsifal” and “Elektra.” Scotto followed the evolution of her voice, which ultimately allowed her to continue to sing well into her 60’s.
A Great Director
Once Scotto retired as a singer she dedicated herself to directing opera. She most famously took on productions of Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera” with Sondra Radvanvsky and Puccini’s “La Boheme” for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also worked for the Florida Grand Opera, the Michigan Opera and the New York City Opera. As Scotto noted in our interview, she prefers minimalist productions with taste. For her it is always important to dress the actors with beautiful wardrobe.
A Dedicated Teacher
Scotto has dedicated herself to building Academies all over the world in particular in Italy as well as recently in Naples, Florida. Her idea is to find the next generation in opera and to train them in interpretation. She is not a vocal coach but she does guide her students in finding the right ways to sing certain repertoire. She has also coached such luminaries as Anna Netrebko in recent times.