OP0086. MADAMA BUTTERFLY, recorded 1978, w.Maazel Cond. Philharmonia Orch. & Ambrosian Opera Chorus; Renata Scotto, Placido Domingo, Ingvar Wixell, etc. 2-CBS M2K 35181, Boxed Set w. Elaborate 192pp. Libretto-Brochure. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 07464351812
“Until Angel decides to reissue on CD its treasurable 1968 Scotto-Barbirolli BUTTERFLY, the CBS recording, made a decade later, should serve to recall the diva at her most inspiring. Despite the more variable estate of her voice in the later recording (she avoids the high D-flat of her entrance music), Scotto had refined her portrayal of the tragic Butterfly right down to the last aspirate. Domingo is an almost heroic, if impersonal, Pinkerton; Wixell a standard Sharpless. Maazel strives for turbulent drama, rather than communicating any particular luminosity of texture. The CBS remastering allows the orchestral contribution more of a presence than it had in its LP incarnation.”
- Allan Ulrich, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, 19 July, 1987
“Arguably the greatest studio recording of Giacomo Puccini’s beloved MADAMA BUTTERFLY is that of 1978 (for Sony), with Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Ingvar Wixell, and Gillian Knight (the most interesting Suzuki on record, conducted by Lorin Maazel. Mme Scotto’s Cio-cio-san is exquisitely detailed, yet possessing tremendous histrionic force. History may well remember this as her greatest role, and it was recorded at her artistic zenith. It is sublime, and the entire set is a marvel, entirely surpassing the diva’s earlier effort for EMI (1966).”
- Brian Morgan
“I doubt if there is anyone with a more comprehensive Madama 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’s influence was obvious. 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
“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. While no recording can fully recreate the impressions of a stage performance, her first recording of MADAMA BUTTERFLY, under John Barbirolli, is one of her most vivid.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“Not a note, not a syllable or an orchestral color is thrown away or overlooked in building the character [of Scotto’s Cio-Cio-San].”
- Robert Jacobson OPERA NEWS, 17 Dec., 1977