In an interview with Adnkronos a few years ago he said: “The most important thing is a solid technical base”
Renata Scotto, one of the most important soprano voices of the 20th century, died in the night in her Savona. She was 89 years old. Of her Her debut at the age of nineteen at the Teatro Gabriello Chiabrera in her city, as Violetta in ‘Traviata’. From that moment on, her uninterrupted ascent began, leading her to the stage of La Scala in Milan on 7 December 1953 in Catalani’s ‘La Wally’: a triumph. However, international fame came in 1957 when La Scala brought ‘La sonnambula’ by Vinvcenzo Bellini with Maria Callas to Edinburgh. A great success, so much so that the Milanese theater decides to add other performances which, however, Callas cannot sing due to other commitments. La Scala then calls Renata Scotto to replace her and for the Ligurian soprano it is such a triumph that from that moment on she shines in the firmament of international opera.
In an interview with Adnkronos a few years ago, on the occasion of the Rai Prix Italia in which she participated, Scotto warned young singers because “they don’t have the patience to build a career – she said – they are in a hurry to get to important theaters immediately without first make the famous apprenticeship, which takes ten or more years. But the greatest fault often lies with the agents who make them sing the wrong repertoire”. She advised them to “have patience, study never ends, even after the end of their career, and social life must be moderated”. And he confessed: “I too made a mistake when I made my debut at 18 in ‘Traviata’. I had a voice and temperament and the choice to let me sing was made by my teachers, but I shouldn’t have. Then I spent my whole life studying the role of Violetta. A study that is done not only at home but also in the theatre. The condition, however, is to have a solid technical base” which is “the most important thing. You could never sing Verdi, but not only, without it. The technique it must be able to make you sing literally in apnea, a result you get when you have learned how to breathe and use sounds. Then you have to understand how to deal with the sound of the voice, like a violinist does with a violin or a flautist with a flute. Temperament and expression, however, are part of nature”.
And the solid technical base, combined with an extraordinary musical intelligence, temperament and an always very accurate phrasing, Scotto had, so much so that her international career took flight up to bring her in 1965 in ‘Madama Butterfly’ at the Metropolitan in New York and at the Royal Opera House in London with ‘La traviata’. In 1976 she sang Bellini’s Zaira at the Bellini Theater in Catania in the first revival of the century, of which there is a recording. In 1977 she played Mimì in ‘Bohème’ at the Metropolitan next to Luciano Pavarotti, a show of which there is a video recording.
An artist gifted with a more unique than rare versatility, Scotto has always sung with extraordinary results a vast repertoire ranging from Giovanni Battista Pergolesi to Arnold Schoenberg, passing through Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and even Wagner. The beginning of her career, as she herself recounted several times in some interviews, was characterized by an error by her first singing teachers in Milan, who had given her a contralto voice. However, driven by the large family who had her future as an opera singer very close to heart, she underwent an audition with another maestro. These, doubtful that her vocal range was that of the contralto, decided to let the public determine whether Scotto was a contralto or a soprano. After singing Azucena’s aria from ‘Trovatore’ (‘Stride la vampa’) and Aida’s aria from the third act (‘Cieli azzurri’) in a concert, the audience ‘establishes’ that Scotto is a soprano. In fact, her career developed first as a lyric-light soprano and then as a dramatic agility.
Since 1986 Scotto has also been involved in opera direction: the first was ‘Madama Butterfly’ at the Metropolitan, a staging of Puccini’s masterpiece which then landed on the stages of the Arena di Verona, the Miami Opera and the Carlo Felice of Genoa. In 1995, at the New York City Opera she directed ‘La traviata’, which was staged live on television, winning the prestigious Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Television Event. He has been an Academician of Santa Cecilia since 1997. In the same year he founded the ‘Renata Scotto Opera Academy’. On February 27, 2011 he received the ‘Met Legends’ award.