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Subject: Scotto (was Re: Adriana (was Caballe's commercial recorded legacy))
From: Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 10 Oct 2018 11:26:28 -0700

text/plain (46 lines)

I didn’t like her on recordings from the late 50s and 60s. There was plenty of squillo, but for my ears it veered too often into an extremely unpleasant edgy, cut glass sound (including her Gilda on the Kubelik “Rigoletto”). I could hear dramatic involvement, musical intelligence, potent interpretive ability but the sound itself kept repulsing me. 

She made her San Francisco debut in 1974 as Butterfly. Because of a dust-up between the opera management and Carreras, who was originally to have sung all the Pinkertons, he only appeared in one performance and it seemed that she almost had a different tenor every night. I happened to see the one Friday night with Carreras, which was also the performance broadcast (and, therefore, which has turned up on CD). 

I thought she was wonderful. She was still a bit role-poly but I didn’t care. The voice had filled out, taken off the extreme edge and was full and ample right up to the high C (not above - the entrance high D-flat was tight and squealy). One could say that the interpretation took in every trick and calculation in the book, but she made all of those old tricks work. She was riveting. And Carreras was gorgeous - vocally and physically.

The next year she was part of the “second cast” of “Trovatore” (cast 1 had included Sutherland’s and Pavarotti’s stage debuts in their roles). More than a little of the edginess came back, particularly on high notes, but I did appreciate how, contrasted with Sutherland, she cut a very clean, clear musical line.

In 1977 she sang Adriana and, perhaps catching a bad night, she was in lousy form, cracking over the upper break constantly. Despite her musical and dramatic commitment, I found her progressively harder to enjoy after that. I didn’t care for her at all in the Met “Le Prophete,” finding every high note a strident screech. 

I was really pleasantly surprised by her Desdemona, both on the live performance with Vickers and on the Levine studio recording, where she was surprisingly agreeable sounding and able to demonstrate the beautiful legato she could produce. I also found her increasingly careful use of her voice (and no longer trying for the high E-flat) produced a more sensitive and moving Violetta for the Muti studio recording than I expected.

No doubt a great singer, a great artist, a great performer. I just found her often hard to listen to.

Max Paley

> On Oct 10, 2018, at 10:12 AM, kurt youngmann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On Oct 10, 2018, at 7:51 AM, Buoso Donati <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> I usually concur with Mr. Rideout's taste in singers, except when it comes
>> to Renata Scotto.
> Me too. Bob and I have a long history of agreeing (and, on occasion, disagreeing) about singers.
> For me, opera is drama as well as music so I have a high tolerance for voices that may be lacking in (subjective, of course) beauty as long as the singer is able to delve into characterization. However, in Scotto’s case, I can’t get past what I hear as an unattractive timbre even though she’s an excellent interpreter. But that’s just me and I respect the next guy’s taste.
> Kurt Youngmann
> How come we choose from just two people to run for president and over fifty for Miss America?  - Anonymous

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