The mention of Renata Scotto immediately brings to mind artistry of a personal expression achieved by very few performers in any area of the performing arts. She is one of those artists who continues to take on challenges and score triumphs in an ever-expanding repertory, which spanned more than 100 roles. In 2011 she was honored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild in their Met Legends series and received the prestigious Opera News Award in 2007.
Born in Savona, Italy, Renata Scotto has performed regularly on the stages of the world’s great opera houses and concert halls. Her gifts as a unique singing actress have been acclaimed at the Teatro La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Bolshoi, the Vienna State Opera and the Paris Opera, to name only a few. Her repertoire, comprising more than sixty roles, has an extraordinary range and diversity, including the bel canto operas of Bellini, Donizetti and Meyerbeer, the verismo works of Puccini, Mascagni, Cilea and Giordano, and twelve major Verdi heroines. She is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Madama Butterfly which she sang in countless productions and recorded twice for CBS.
Ms. Scotto inaugurated the first Live from the MET PBS telecast as Mimi in La Boheme in 1977 and appeared on that series for eight consecutive seasons. She was seen in the title role of La Gioconda in the first live international telecast from the San Francisco Opera, winning an Emmy Award for her portrayal and was the subject of a PBS documentary feature, Renata Scotto – Prima Donna
A prolific recording artist, Ms. Scotto has recorded for all of the major recording labels including EMI, Decca/London, CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, RCA and Hungaroton. She won the Grand Prix du Disque for her Deutsche Grammophone recording of Rigoletto and both the Palm d’Or and the Italian Critics Award for the CBS recording of Suor Angelica. A sample list of her videos include Il trittico, Otello, L’Elisir d’Amore, Lucia d Lammermoor, Fedora,, plus many concerts and recitals, while her notable CDs include Norma, Adriana Lecouvreur, Turandot (Liu), Edgar, and the Verdi Requiem.
Renata Scotto has received universal praise from the world’s leading critics, having been awarded the Italian Critics Franco Abbiate Award and the Frankfurter-Allgemeine Award for her portrayal of the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, her first German language role. Mme Scotto performed her Marschallin in Catania in 1992, and then opening the 1995 Charleston Festival (Spoleto USA) repeated it in Austria at the Graz Opera. At Germany’s Schwerin Festival she sang the role of Kundry in Parsifal for the first time in April 1995, receiving the plaudits from the major German critics. At the 1993 Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Renata Scotto stunned the international operatic world with her moving interpretation of Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine for which she was again given the Franco Abbiati critics’ award in Italy. Scotto repeated this role with the Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona that was telecast over Canal Plus and at the Concertgebouwe in Amsterdam in October 1996. Rio de Janeiro heard her in La Voix Humaine in 1998 and 1999 she appeared in a double bill of the same work and in her own staging of Menotti’s The Medium singing the role of Baba (Mme. Flora) for the first time, at the Teatro Regio di Torino. In 2000-01, Ms. Scotto made a triumphant debut in the role of Klytamnestra in Richard Strauss’ Elektra with the Baltimore Opera which she later repeated in Seville. At Rome in 1994, Renata Scotto performed Schoenberg’s Ewartung for the first time, with the Orchestra of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and then with the RAI Turin Orchestra.
Ms. Scotto continues to add to her activity as stage director after her debut at the Metropolitan in 1986, with Madama Butterfly and then at the Arena di Verona, Genoa’s Teatro Carlo Felice, Dallas Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Florida Grand Opera in Miami, and the Teatro delle Arts center in Ancona with the same work. In March 1995 she created a new production of La Traviata at the New York City Opera, which was telecast nationally over PBS in the “Live from Lincoln Center” series. For this she won an Emmy Award for Best Live Musical Event. Other notable productions include Il Pirata and La Sonnambula at the Festival Belliniana in Catania, Sonnambula for Florida Grand and Michigan Opera Theater, Norma for the Finnish National Opera, Adriana Lecouvreur in Santiago with Veronica Villaroel in the title role, Tosca with Deborah Voigt singing the role for the first time for Florida Grand Opera where she also directed Traviata and La Sonnambula, Lucia di Lammermoor for the Megaron Theater in Thessaloniki, Turandot in Athens, a new production of Catalani’s La Wally for Bern and Bologna, La Boheme for Lyric Opera of Chicago and Florida Grand, plus 2010’s Un Ballo in Maschera for Chicago.
Over the past several years, Renata Scotto has established herself as the most sought after teacher of vocal style and technique on the international circuit. She has presented select master classes at the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Yale University, the Russian Opera Center in Moscow, Tokyo University, Pittsburgh Opera, Paris Opera Bastille, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s American Artists Program and the Lindeman Young Artists Program at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1997 she inaugurated Renata Scotto Opera Academy in Savona, later starting one at the Westchester Music Conservatory in New York. In Italy, Mme Scotto has presented master classes for the Young Artists Program at La Scala in Milan and at the Verdi Institute in Parma. Her master classes have also been held in Switzerland at the Verbier Festival and Academy. In 1995, Mme Scotto was elected President of the famous A.S.L.I.C.O competition in Milan. She now heads the Opera Studio of Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia.
Ms. Scotto’s autobiography More Than a Diva was published by Doubleday and has also had printings in the U.K. and Italy and wrote the Madama Butterfly chapter in the Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia
I doubt if there is anyone with more comprehensive of Madame Butterfly than Renata Scotto. That wealth of experience paid rich dividends, creating one of the most absorbing and emotional butterflies I have seen in a very long time. Scotto influence was obvious. Together, she and Xini made everything phrase, gesture and expression count. I have never been so aware of the overwhelming effect of silent pauses, moments when time stood still but emotions raced ahead most obviously when Sharpless asks Butterfly what she should do should Pinkerton not return; I confess to an ache in the pit of the stomach as this Butterfly silently contemplated such a future. – Opera Now