OP1082. I VESPRI SICILIANI, Live Performance, 13 May, 1978, Teatro Comunale, Firenze, w.Muti Cond.
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Ensemble; Renata Scotto, Veriano Luchetti, Renato Bruson, Ruggero Raimondi, etc. (Germany) 3-Gala 100.611. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8712177036721
"Renata Scotto's long and successful operatic career was marked by a rare combination of dramatic intensity and vocal flexibility, which allowed her to traverse a wide variety of styles. She believed strongly in the theatrical elements of performing and always focused her energies on the meaning of a text. She also felt much of the standard verismo performing tradition to be exaggerated and vulgar, and strove to keep her performances as close to the composer's marked intentions as possible, especially with respect to subtleties of dynamics. Many speak of her as the 'last of the divas'.
She began vocal studies when she was 14, and moved to Milan when she was 16. In 1952, when she was just 19, she made her debut as Violetta (LA TRAVIATA) at the Teatro Nuovo, followed by her La Scala debut as Walter in LA WALLY. However, only a few years later she had a vocal crisis, losing most of her upper range; she now credits her recovery to Alfredo Kraus (himself renowned for a solid technique and vocal longevity), who introduced her to his teacher, Mercedes Llopart. After completely restudying her technique, she re-began her career as a coloratura, making her London debut at the Stoll Theater as Adina in L'ELISIR D'AMORE. She returned to La Scala, and in 1957, replaced Maria Callas (whom she had greatly admired) as Amina in LA SONNAMBULA.
In 1960, she debuted at the Chicago Opera as Mimi (LA BOHEME), followed by her Covent Garden debut in 1962 as Puccini's Cio-Cio san (MADAMA BUTTERFLY). Her Metropolitan Opera debut was in 1965 was also as Butterfly; during the next two decades, Scotto was one of their major stars, appearing in several telecasts.
She began to add the heavier roles to her repertoire again, including Verdi's Lady Macbeth, which was to become a signature role, as well as verismo parts such as Fedora, La Gioconda, Francesca in Zandonai's FRANCESCA DA RIMINI and Maddalena in ANDREA CHENIER. In all of these roles she was applauded for her committed acting and stylistic fluency."
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
"Bruson was one of the foremost bel canto and Verdi baritones of his generation, and while this side of his artistry is lesser-known in the United States, he was also an accomplished song performer, specializing again in Romantic-era Italian works. He frequently championed the songs of Tosti, and was named an honorary citizen of Cortona, Tosti's home city, in recognition of this. While his Verdi roles are perhaps his best-known, especially Macbeth, Rigoletto, Renato (UN BALLO IN MASCHERA), and Simon Boccanegra, he sang in no fewer than seventeen Donizetti operas during the 1970s and 1980s, just ahead of the crest of a great resurgence of interest in lesser-known nineteenth-century works.
He made his opera debut as the Conte di Luna in IL TROVATORE at Spoleto in 1961. He appeared at the Met for the first time in 1969, as Enrico in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, and made his La Scala debut in LINDA DI CHAMONIX in 1972. In 1973, he made his Chicago Lyric Opera debut as Renato in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, and in 1975 he made his Covent Garden debut in the same role, substituting for Piero Cappuccilli. His Vienna State Opera debut was in 1978, as Verdi's Macbeth. He sang with Riccardo Muti for the first time in 1970, and over the years became an adherent of Muti's insistence on singing come scritto, without singer-interpolated high notes, believing that this focuses attention on the music and drama rather than the singer.
His RIGOLETTO on Philips captures one of his major roles quite well, and among his many Tosti recordings on Nuova Era, 'Romanze su Testi Italiani' is one of the strongest."
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
"Bruson was the quintessential Verdi baritone in the second half of the last century. A Verdi baritone not as it was understood (or rather, misunderstood) in the 1950's and 60's, but a Verdi baritone as understood and desired by the composer himself."
- Christian Springer