Renata Scotto, the eminent Italian soprano, passed away last Wednesday, August 16 in her native city of Savona. She was 89.
Scotto made her operatic debut in 1952, performing the role of Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata in Savona. The next day, she performed the same role at Milan’s Teatro Nuovo. Her La Scala debut came in 1957, when she appeared in the title role of Catalani’s La Wally in a production conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini. The performance garnered her 15 curtain calls. Scotto made 314 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera, beginning in 1965 with a debut performance in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In her later years, Scotto was active as an opera director and as a teacher. She once said, “The best advice I can give a young aspiring singer is not to become an old aspiring singer.”
Here are four recordings from Scotto’s career:
Donizetti: “Prendi, per me sei libero” from The Elixir of Love
In this intimate aria from the second act of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, the wealthy landowner, Adina, realizing that she has fallen in love with Nemorino, urges him to stay home rather than enlist in the army. She has purchased his enlistment papers from the army. The title translates as, “Take it, I have freed you.”
Verdi: “O Patria Mia” from Aida
Set in the ancient kingdom of Egypt, Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida tells the emotionally volatile story of an Ethiopian princess held captive as a slave in Egypt. The princess, Aida, has fallen in love with an Egyptian general, Radames. In the Act III aria, O patria mia (“Oh, my dear country!”), Aida has come to a temple on the banks of the Nile to meet Radames. She is torn between her loyalty for her country and her love of Radames. In the aria, she mourns for the beautiful homeland she will never see again.
Puccini: “Un bel dì, vedremo” from Madama Butterfly
Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is a story of love, faith, and ultimate heartbreak. On a hill in Nagasaki, Japan, Cio-Cio-San (“Butterfly” in Japanese) awaits the return of the American naval lieutenant whom she has married. Her joy upon his return turns quickly to despair when she learns that he has married an American woman, and that he has returned to take his young son, the child of Butterfly, home.
Early in the second act, Butterfly’s maid, Suzuki, doubts that Lieutenant Pinkerton will ever return. In this dreamy aria, Butterfly expresses an undying faith that “one fine day,” a puff of smoke will arise on the sea horizon, Pinkerton will return, and they will be reunited.
Puccini: “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi
One of Puccini’s most memorable melodies unfolds in this aria, in which Lauretta begs her father to accept her love for Rinuccio.
- Renata Scotto’s discography on discogs.
Featured Image: Renata Scotto in Milan, 1967, photograph by Mario De Biasi