OP0206. I CAPULETI E I MONTECCHI (Bellini), Live Performance, 8 Jan., 1968, w. Abbado Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Renata Scotto, Giacomo Aragall, Agostino Ferrin, Luciano Pavarotti & Walter Monachesi; RENATA SCOTTO, w.Basile & Benvenuti Cond.: Arias from Sonnambula, Don Pasquale, La Traviata, Pecheurs de Perles & Lodoletta - from Scotto's fabulously rare 1954 Cetra 78rpm discs. (Portugal) 2-Gala 100.517. Final Sealed Copy! - 8712177019243
“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
"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
“Despite debilitating stage nerves and a tendency to sing under pitch, Spanish tenor Giacomo (born Jaime or, in Catalan, Jaume) Aragall forged a significant career. (He sometimes used an Italian form of his last name, Aragali, as well.) While his gifts were not always realized to their fullest due to the persistent anxiety that dogged him, his lovely, slightly smoky timbre and easy top register were heard to excellent effect in the lyric rôles of his young years and in the spinto parts he assumed in his maturity. Aragall's first serious studies were with Jaime Francisco Puig in Barcelona. In view of After Aragall's stage début (Venice, 1963 in Verdi's JÉRUSALEM), he appeared at La Scala as the eponymous hero in Mascagni's L'AMICO FRITZ. His La Scala début led to the offer of a three-year contract, an occurrence that placed enormous psychological pressures on the 23-year-old tenor, introverted by nature and as yet unaccustomed to living up to high expectations. For several important débuts, Aragall was presented as the Duke of Mantua, RIGOLETTO serving as his first opera at Verona in 1965, at both Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera in 1968, and in San Francisco in 1973. The year following his San Francisco début found him back in the California city for Massenet's rarely heard ESCLARMONDE, a production starring Joan Sutherland transported to the Metropolitan in 1976. A Decca/London recording preserved the work of most of the original production's cast, including Aragall as Roland. In the late '70s, nerves and distress at being apart from his family led Aragall to abandon his career for a time. Eventually, however, the desire to sing drew him back to the stage, more mature in handling career stresses and able to master a somewhat heavier repertory. Rôles such as Cavaradossi, Rodolfo, Gabriele Adorno (SIMON BOCCANEGRA), Don Carlo, and Riccardo became staples along with certain French parts from earlier days, Werther, Faust, and Massenet's Des Grieux included.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Claudio Abbado was named music director of La Scala in 1968 and held the position until 1986, when he became music director of the Vienna State Opera. He also made débuts at Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera in 1968, both in productions of DON CARLOS. His repertory included Mozart and Wagner as well, but his real specialties were Rossini and Verdi, whose music he performed with respect for the artistry they embody rather than the showmanship they allow. Mr. Abbado was known for the directness and musicality of his performances. He almost always conducted from memory, insisting that using the score meant that he did not know the work adequately. Mr. Abbado disdained the trappings of a modern, media-driven conducting career. As communicative as his podium manner was, he seemed slightly awkward coming on and off the stage. Explaining this in a 1973 interview, he compared himself to the conductor Hans Knappertsbusch, whose habit was to refuse curtain calls. ‘I used to be somewhat like that’, he said. ‘Now I take the time to be polite. Look, I like the reaction of the audience. I’m not sincere if I don’t say that, but it still embarrasses me to take bows. I’m not a showman’.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 20 Jan., 2014