OP1913. ZAIRA (Bellini), Live Performance, 30 March, 1976, Catania, w.Belardinelli Cond. Teatro Massimo Bellini Ensemble; Renata Scotto, Giorgio Casellato–Lamberti, Luigi Roni, Luisa Nave, Mario Rinaudo, etc.; La Straniera – Excerpts, Live Performance, 10 Dec., 1968, w.Sanzogno Cond. Teatro Massimo di Palermo Ensemble; Renata Scotto, Renato Cioni, Dominico Trimarchi, etc. (E.U.) 3–Myto MDCD 0013. - 3030257900133
“Better voices sing these parts with more body and security, but they are dull; they could easily feed their voices onto computer tape and let technology sing for them. Parceling out the notes as each score reads, for only Scotto takes the trouble to distinguish….Scotto is the last of the mad-genius sopranos….When she goes, opera is [will be, and is] in a lot of trouble. Above all, she is mistress of the traditions, with a grasp on authenticity.”
- Ethan Mordden, DEMENTED, THE WORLD OF THE OPERA DIVA, p.99
“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. After making a name for herself in the standard repertoire, Renata Scotto devoted a good deal of her energies to exploring forgotten operas, like ZAIRA. Sadly ZAIRA was not able to capitalize on this revival and has since languished in obscurity. I say sadly because it has all of the traits that make operas like NORMA and I PURITANI so compelling: vocal writing displaying the highest understanding of the human voice, coupled with exciting dramatic momentum. Renata Scotto gives a nuanced and beautifully sung performance and demonstrates that she was the queen of Italian style of her day. The sound is excellent.”
- 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
“Giorgio Casellato-Lamberti was a member of that last generation of the ‘once inexhaustible breed; the Italian tenor’. He came to prominence in the sixties together with other young hopefuls like Ruggero Bondino, Enzo Tei, Franco Tagliavini, Beniamino Prior and Luciano Pavarotti. Mr. Lamberti’s voice has not the many subtleties and the beauty in the middle register of Carlo Bergonzi; nor did he have the stentorian overwhelming sound of Corelli and Del Monaco, but somewhere he was more representative of the breed than either one of those vocal gods. There is a red thread running through vocal history of talented Italians, trumpet voiced, who could cut through any orchestra and chorus. They didn’t have the amazing vocal beauty of Gigli or young Di Stefano but they did the heavy work in other houses than La Scala or the Met; they did the foreign tours where their sound was identified as typical Italian. After the war there appeared Annaloro, Zambruno, Turrini, Lo Forese, Gismondo and Ottolini in that mould. Of them all Lamberti was definitely the best. He could fill big barns like La Scala and the Met. At the Verona Arena he had no problem filling the open space.
The voice always sounds homogenous from bottom to brilliant top. It is slender but still strong with a lot of metal in it. It is bright and well focused. There aren’t a myriad amount of colours in it but it’s still personal and recognizable. The top can be cutting and is often glorious. Indeed one thinks of Hope-Wallace in The Gramophone once describing young Corelli as ‘a shameless top-note hunter’. So is Casellato-Lamberti now and then, holding the high B in ‘La donna è mobile’ for some ten seconds (as did Corelli). Casellato-Lamberti’s voice above the stave gets an extra gleam and ring and it is a prime example of squillo. Casellato-Lamberti’s voice is somewhat similar to the young Pavarotti; maybe a little bit less rich. Still, the differences being slight they teach us a lesson. One singer marginally better than the other, is a household word due to an American publicity genius while the other is more or less forgotten in the wide world. If Casellato-Lamberti were to sing today, he would reign supreme in Italy.”
Jan Neckers, Operanostalgia