OP2788. L'ELISIR D'AMORE, Live Performance, 2 July, 1967, Teatro Comunale, Firenze, w.Gavazzeni Cond. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Ensemble; Renata Scotto, Carlo Bergonzi, Giuseppe Taddei, Carlo Cava & Renza Jotti. (Slovenia) 2-Living Stage 4035129. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830025734041
"Renata Scotto is a musician. She is a studious woman who is devoted to her career. I have seen her at work and her dedication to opera is complete, profound, and remarkable. She will finish singing only to return to the score and study again. She has given herself to opera, body and soul; and she never stops learning. That is why her characterizations are always so fresh."
- Plácido Domingo, SCOTTO, MORE THAN A DIVA, p.xii
"In the same vein as Magda Olivero and Claudia Muzio, [Scotto's] singing is a paragon of class, communication, and emotional authenticity."
- Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE, May/June, 2006
"Known for her dramatic singing style, Renata Scotto excels in the Italian repertoire, including Bellini's NORMA and Puccini's MADAMA BUTTERFLY. She has performed in more than 45 operas all over the world.
Born in Italy in 1934, Renata Scotto made her operatic début in her hometown of Savona on Christmas Eve, 1952 in LA TRAVIATA. She made her professional opera début at the Teatro Nuovo as Violetta, a role she earned by winning the Milan Lyric Association competition. With a blooming musical career, she auditioned for the part of Walter in Catalani's LA WALLY, performed at La Scala in Milan. She instantly received the part and was called back for fifteen curtain calls on opening night, 7 Dec., 1953.
In 1957, the La Scala Company had been in Edinburgh performing Bellini's LA SONNAMBULA, with Maria Callas as Amina. Due to the enormous interest, La Scala decided to add more performances. When Callas refused to do another performance, Scotto was called to replace her. With the success of her performance in this role, she became an international star.
With her operatic success came personal success as well. In 1960, Scotto performed at the Royal Opera House as Mimi in LA BOHEME. She made her United States début with the Metropolitan Opera in 1965 as Cio-Cio-San in MADAMA BUTTERFLY. A quote from the New York Herald Tribune called the performance 'an occasion for rejoicing, and there was plenty of it in the form of applause and welcoming shouts to the new artist who, above all, is distinctly an individual'."
- Kim Summers, allmusic.com
“Considered the foremost Verdi tenor of his age, Mr. Bergonzi sang more than 300 times with the Metropolitan Opera of New York from the 1950s to the ’80s, appearing opposite a roster of celebrated divas that included Maria Callas, Zinka Milanov, Renata Tebaldi, Risë Stevens, Victoria de los Angeles and Leontyne Price.
A lyric tenor of some vocal heft, Mr. Bergonzi lacked the sonic weight and brilliance of tenors in the Wagnerian mold. But what he did possess was an instrument of velvety beauty and nearly unrivaled subtlety."
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 26 July, 2014
“Giuseppe Taddei was a distinguished Italian baritone who made his Metropolitan Opera début to glowing notices in 1985 at the astonishing age of 69. Born in Genoa on 26 June, 1916, Mr. Taddei made his operatic début in 1936, as the Herald in a production of Wagner’s LOHENGRIN in Rome. In the decades that followed he performed on many of the great opera stages of Europe, including those of the Vienna State Opera, La Scala and Covent Garden. In the 1950s, Mr. Taddei appeared in the United States with the San Francisco and Dallas Civic Operas; he was also long known to listeners here through his many recordings. In the 1960s, he sang in New York in concert performances. But until 25 Sept., 1985, when he stepped onto the stage at Lincoln Center in the title role of Verdi’s FALSTAFF, Mr. Taddei had never sung at the Met. At his curtain call, THE NEW YORK TIMES reported, Mr. Taddei received ‘a rafter-shaking ovation’.
Opera exacts a great toll on the voice. Singers often retire in their 50's, at least from weightier fare. Appearing at a major opera house in one’s late 60s is highly unusual; making a début at that age, breathtakingly so. To do so to the kind of rapturous reviews Mr. Taddei received is almost beyond contemplation. What apparently stood Mr. Taddei in good stead was the Italian bel canto tradition — the lighter, less forceful style of singing in which he had been trained — which can let its practitioners extend their careers beyond the usual retirement age. In all, Mr. Taddei performed with the Met 21 times. Besides Falstaff, which he sang in 1985 and 1986, he appeared as Dr. Dulcamara in L’ELISIR D’AMORE in 1988.
Reviewing Mr. Taddei’s Met début in The Times, Donal Henahan wrote: ‘His Falstaff, not only wittily acted and fully formed, was astonishingly well sung. The voice is not exactly plummy these days, but it retains a wonderfully liquid quality in lyric passages’.
If Mr. Taddei could sing like that at 69, then why had the Met not signed him in even plummier days? As Mr. Taddei explained in a 1985 interview with The Times, the reasons centered on diplomacy, or rather what he saw as the lack of it. In 1951, he said, Rudolf Bing, then the Met’s general manager, asked him to audition. That did not sit well with Mr. Taddei, who was already a star in Europe. He declined Mr. Bing’s request. In 1958, Mr. Taddei said the Met tried to engage him again, at $600 a week. That did not sit well with Mr. Taddei, who asked for more money. The Met declined his request. A quarter-century went by. Then, in the early 1980s, after Mr. Taddei sang a well-received Falstaff at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, Mr. Levine, the Met’s music director, approached him. He offered Mr. Taddei the part of Fra Melitone in Verdi’s FORZA DEL DESTINO — a role typically billed sixth from the top. That did not sit well with Mr. Taddei. As he told THE TIMES, ‘I said thank you, but coming for the very first time, I think I should come as protagonista’. And thus, as Falstaff, Mr. Taddei went onstage a world-renowned singer and came back a star.”
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 June, 2010