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Renata Scotto, One of 20th Century Opera's Great Divas, Dies at 89

By Sara Schabas on August 21, 2023

Renata Scotto
Renata Scotto. (2023, August 20). In Wikipedia.

Renata Scotto died last week in Savona, Italy after a reign as one of the Metropolitan Opera’s most popular sopranos, where she appeared 314 times from 1965-1987.

Who was Scotto?: The soprano Renata Scotto (1934-2023) is remembered as one of the most expressive singing actors of her generation. Her signature roles included Mimí in La bohème–which she performed in PBS’ first installment of “Great Performances at the Met” alongside Pavarotti–Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Bellini’s Norma, all three heroines in Il Trittico, Adina in L’elisir d’amore and Violetta in La Traviata.

What made her so special: Scotto imbued each note she sang with drama. The former Met Music Director James Levine championed her career, calling her a “direct descendant of the great, expressive Italian sopranos.” Scotto’s repertoire oscillated between that of a lyric soprano and a spinto. She preferred specific vocal characterizations to overblown, veristic singing in the style of Beniamino Gigli. Her performances were noted for their expressiveness as well as their musical cleanliness.

How is she being remembered?: Tributes to the great soprano, who became a devoted teacher and even a stage director, are pouring in from many of the world’s leading singers.

Wondering where to start?: Ludwig Van suggests a listen to her graceful phrasing and unforgettable pianissimi in Puccini’s “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” from La rondine.

Grazie, maestra.

Sara Schabas
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