OP2083. PHILÉMON ET BAUCIS (in Italian) (Gounod), Broadcast Performance, 4 Oct., 1960, w.Sanzogno Cond. RAI Ensemble, Milano; Renata Scotto, Alvinio Misciano, Rolando Panerai, Paolo Montarsolo, etc.; La Rosa Parodi Cond. RAI S.O., Roma: Wind Symphony in B-flat (Gounod), Broadcast Performance, 9 Jan., 1960. (E.U.) 2-Myto 00254. - 0801439902541
“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.”
- 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
"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
“A lyric tenor who was an excellent musician, a fine actor who retained his youthful good looks into his fifties, the Italian opera singer Alvinio Misciano enjoyed a successful career lasting more than 25 years. Though he toured Australia and South Africa, visited North and South America, Cairo, Vienna, Prague, Paris and London, he sang mainly in Italy, where he appeared at all the major opera-houses, particularly at La Scala, Milan. He created roles in a number of operas, including Poulenc's DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES, works by Guido Turchi, Renzo Rossellini and Valerio Mortari. His voice, bright-toned and firmly focused, though not very large, was unsuited to Romantic 19th-century music, but his repertory contained, besides many 18th- and 20th-century operas, several Rossini roles, Verdi's Alfredo and Fenton, and the title role of Mascagni's L'AMICO FRITZ.
Misciano studied at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome with Gino Scolari and the Rome Opera School with Mario Basiola. He made his début in 1946 in Rome as Arturo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR. After touring South Africa and Australia with Italian companies, in the early 1950s he appeared at Trieste, Palermo and Rio de Janeiro.
He first sang at La Scala in 1956, as Mephisto in Prokoviev's FIERY ANGEL, then in 1957, he created the Father Confessor in Poulenc's DIALOGUES DES CARMELITES there. The same year he sang Gonzalvo in Cherubini's LES ABENCERAGES at the Florence Maggio Musicale, and made his US début at Chicago as Wilhelm Meister in Thomas' MIGNON. He returned to Chicago in 1958 for Fenton, Rinuccio in GIANNI SCHICCHI and Almaviva in Rossini's BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, which he also sang at Dallas.
The next decade was the busiest in Misciano's whole career. At La Scala he sang Lysander in Britten's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and created Captain Pelikan in Guido Turchi's IL BUON SOLDATO SVEJK (1962), adapted from the novel THE GOOD SOLDIER SCHWEIK. At La Piccola Scala he sang Asciano in Pergolesi's LO FRATE 'NNAMORATO, Count Alberto in Rossini's L'OCCASIONE FA IL LADRO and created Il Cugino (the Cousin) in Renzo Rossellini's IL LINGU- AGGIO DEI FIORI (1962), adapted from a play by Lorca. He appeared in Genoa, Brescia and Budapest as Alfredo, at the Spoleto Festival as Anatol in Samuel Barber's VANESSA, in Athens as Massenet's WERTHER, and Paolino in Cimarosa's IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, and at Florence as Caloandro in Paisiello's LA MOLINARA.
In October 1962 he began a three-month stint at the Theatre des Champs- Elysées, Paris, as Angelo in Gilbert Becaud's L'OPERA D'ARAN (based on the screenplay of Robert Flaherty's film), in which an Italian sailor is washed up, half-drowned, on the shore of the Island of Aran. In this entertainment, Misciano's acting ability and youthful appearance were of more importance than his vocal prowess, but it was a very enjoyable performance all the same. Back in Florence, he sang Max in Krenek's JONNY SPIELT AUF. At La Scala in 1966, he sang Fenney in Richard Rodney Bennett's THE MINES OF SULPHUR and created Vaska in Rossellini's LA LEGGENDA DEL RITORNO (taken from an episode in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV).
After taking part in the premiere of Luciano Chailly's opera Vassiliev at Genoa in 1967, the following year Misciano sang Alwa in Berg's LULU for the first time (in Italian) at the Rome Opera. He then embarked with the ‘Piccolo Teatro Musicale’ of the city of Rome for New York, where he sang Edoardo Milfort in Rossini's CAMBIALE DI MATRIMONIO and Almaviva in Paisiello's BARBER at Carnegie Hall, later repeating the two operas in Montréal.
Appropriately, Misciano made his final appearance at La Scala as Mephisto, the role of his début there 14 years before, in a new production of THE FIERY ANGEL in 1970. He sang Jim in Weill's RISE AND FALL OF THE CITY OF MAHAGONNY at Turin in 1971, Prunier in Puccini's LA RONDINE at Venice in 1973, and then retired.”
- Elizabeth Forbes, THE INDEPENDENT, 31 March, 1997
“Rolando Panerai, an Italian baritone who sang more than 150 roles at leading international opera houses, made many classic recordings and appeared frequently with the celebrated soprano Maria Callas in her prime, was widely admired throughout a 65-year operatic career for his full-bodied sound and the elegance of his singing. Steeped in the Italian vocal heritage, he sang with supple phrasing and evenness throughout his entire vocal range. If not the most charismatic presence onstage, he readily conveyed authority and dramatic depth and brought a light comedic touch to the title roles of Puccini’s GIANNI SCHICCHI and Rossini’s THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, among many other characters. Though his repertory was extensive, Mr. Panerai focused closely on Italian opera. Earlier in his career, he sang several German roles in Italian translation, like Amfortas in Wagner’s PARSIFAL.
Outlining the requisite qualities of a true ‘Verdi baritone’ in an interview earlier this year with Classical Singer magazine, Mr. Panerai essentially described his own voice: ‘a dark brownish tint like bronze’ coupled with ‘the quality of the metal, which reminds us of the power and strength’. In a 1996 interview with Bruce Duffie for WNIB, a former classical music radio station in Chicago, Mr. Panerai cautioned younger singers about being ‘dragged into’ the characters they portray. ‘I am used to acting with a certain detachment or coldness’, he said. By acting that way ‘you can act better’, he asserted, and more effectively convey ‘what the composer has to say’.
Famous from his recordings and busy in Europe, Mr. Panerai had a lower profile on American opera stages. Mr. Panerai singing Figaro in a production of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO at the San Francisco Opera in 1958. Famous from his recordings and busy in Europe, Mr. Panerai had a lower profile on American opera stages.
His performances sounded anything but detached. On a 1955 live recording of Donizetti’s LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, a production at the Berlin State Opera conducted by Herbert von Karajan starring Callas, Mr. Panerai holds his own in every gripping moment of the confrontation between his character, Enrico, the head of a Scottish estate in severe decline, and Callas’ Lucia, Enrico’s tormented sister, whom he is trying to force into an advantageous marriage to save the family from ruin. Callas sounds frantic and dazed by her brother’s bullying. Yet below the surface bluster of Mr. Panerai’s Enrico, you hear the panic of a prideful young man who needs his fragile sister to rescue him. Mr. Panerai sang often with Callas during the 1950s, the most important decade of her career, and made several treasured opera recordings with her, including versions of Bellini’s I PURITANI, Verdi’s IL TROVATORE and Puccini’s LA BOHÈME. He called Callas ‘the greatest singer I ever listened to or worked with’ in the 1996 interview.
In 1972, 16 years after the BOHÈME with Callas, Mr. Panerai recorded the role of Marcello, this time with Mirella Freni as Mimì, Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic. It is the BOHÈME of choice for many Puccini-lovers.
He sang one of his signature roles, Ford in FALSTAFF, on three acclaimed recordings: with Karajan conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra of London in 1956; with Leonard Bernstein leading the Vienna Philharmonic in 1966; and again with Karajan, in 1980, also leading the Vienna Philharmonic. The critic Peter G. Davis, reviewing the last version for THE NEW YORK TIMES, wrote that Mr. Panerai’s ‘dark, vibrant, firm, slightly dry tone has changed remarkably little with age, nor has his characteristic nobility of expression, incisive diction and elegant feeling for Verdian phrases deserted him’.
Rolando Panerai was born the youngest of three brothers on Oct. 17, 1924, in Campi Bisenzio, near Florence. His father, Oreste, ran a shoe factory. His mother was Ada (Paoli) Panerai. Rolando was drawn to music early. He studied at the academy in Florence, continued his training in Milan and made his stage debut in 1946 as Enrico in “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the theater in his hometown.
He never appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, though he was offered some engagements early in his career. But by then he had a family and wanted to stay closer to home. He continued to sing, as well as coach and, in later years, direct operas, through his 70s. In 2011, at 87, he sang the title role of GIANNI SCHICCHI in Genoa. Mr. Panerai attributed his longevity to sensible work habits, giving up smoking in his 20s and eating a Mediterranean diet. He advised younger singers to focus on their artistry and not obsess about a career. ‘It is best to sing well and not become bigheaded’, he said in 1996. ‘The rest comes all by itself’.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 30 Oct., 2019