The Metropolitan Opera Guild will celebrate revered soprano Renata Scotto at Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse on Sunday, February 27, sharing video clips of her remarkable performances and engaging in an illuminating, far-ranging conversation about her life and venerable career. "Met Legends: Renata Scotto," the third major public program in the Guild's 75th anniversary season, will feature Ms. Scotto in discussion with Paul Gruber, executive producer for this and many Guild events; the audience will also be treated to a new video biography of Ms. Scotto and video clips-many of them rare-of the inimitable diva in performance. The clips will cover scenes from early Italian telecasts, Scotto's Emmy Award-winning performance in La Gioconda, and scenes and arias from Met telecasts of Don Carlo, Suor Angelica, Otello, La bohème and Luisa Miller, as well as other surprises.
Renata Scotto's passionate, probing, and eminently musical performances of the great heroines of Italian opera made her a favorite artist at the Metropolitan Opera, where she debuted 45 years ago this season. At the Met, Scotto gave 314 performances in 26 roles. In 2006, she was honored with an Opera News Award for her extraordinary achievements not only as a singer but also as a director and teacher. On that occasion, Opera News praised her "unparalleled dramatic insight and energetic attention to musical detail," adding, "Her natural feeling for the fusion of words and music make her the last in a long line of great Italian prima donnas able to fill the greatest hall with sound yet command attention with the intimacy and nuance of her expression."
Paul Gruber comments: "It's a thrill for the Metropolitan Opera Guild to honor Renata Scotto with this event. As anyone who has seen her work knows, she's a fascinating performer and person. Very few artists have given so many intense, theatrical, and uniquely exciting performances. She is both a great actress and a one-woman treasury of Italian opera performance style. Every Scotto performance is a heart-shattering experience."
The Metropolitan Opera Guild introduced its Met Legends series in 2007 with an event featuring the legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. In the seasons that followed, the beloved soprano Teresa Stratas and Metropolitan Opera music director, James Levine, were likewise honored as Met Legends. Writing about the Levine event, a critic for Concerto.net observed, "The format was informal ... the atmosphere was surprisingly intimate. ...The evening was a joy from start to finish."
Born in Savona, Italy, Renata Scotto made her Met debut 45 years ago this season, as Cio-Cio San in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. She was already well known throughout Europe, having made her La Scala debut ten years earlier, and after causing a sensation as a last-minute replacement for Maria Callas in a performance of La sonnambula. In addition to Cio-Cio San, Violetta in La traviata, and Mimì in La bohème, in her early Met years, Scotto was heard in a number of bel canto roles, including Lucia di Lammermoor, Adina in L'elisir d'amore, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Amina in La sonnambula.
After a searing performance in Verdi's I vespri siciliani, Scotto developed a wider repertory at the Met. She was the first soprano in Met history to sing all three heroines in Puccini's triptych, Il trittico. Her intense and detailed performances enraptured Met audiences. By the mid 1970s, she became one of the most active prima donnas at the Met, starring in new productions of Meyerbeer's Le prophète, Verdi's Don Carlo, Puccini's Manon Lescaut, Puccini's La bohème, Verdi's Macbeth, Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini, and Mozart's La clemenza di Tito. After appearing opposite Luciano Pavarotti in the first Live from the Met telecast, La bohème, Scotto starred in seven subsequent Met telecasts, and won an Emmy Award for her performance in the San Francisco Opera's telecast of La Gioconda. All told, she gave 314 performances of 26 roles at the Met, between 1965 and 1987. (Worldwide, she sang 45 different roles on stage and in recordings.) After staging a production of Madama Butterfly at the Met, she embarked on careers as a director, costume designer, and teacher, endeavors she continues today. (She won a second Emmy for directing a 1995 New York City Opera production of La traviata, telecast on Live from Lincoln Center.) Scotto lives in New York and Italy with her husband of 50 years, Lorenzo Anselmi.
The Metropolitan Opera Guild
For 75 years, the Metropolitan Opera Guild has provided substantial support to the Met, as well as greatly enhanced the public's appreciation of opera. Since its founding by the pioneering philanthropist Eleanor Robson Belmont in 1935, the Guild has contributed more than $245 million to the Met. The organization has one of the country's most innovative and far-reaching music education programs, which benefits more than 1,800 schools and communities. In August 2010, the Guild received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's "Arts-in-Education" Model Development and Dissemination Program for its Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching (COBALT) project.
The Guild also publishes Opera News, the world's highest-circulation magazine devoted to opera, and it produces an annual series of major public programs, including the Opera News Awards, Met Legends, and Met Mastersingers series. The sixth annual Opera News Awards will take place in New York City on April 17, 2011, at the Plaza Hotel, celebrating the achievements of five extraordinary artists who have made invaluable contributions to the art form: tenor Jonas Kaufmann, conductor Riccardo Muti, soprano Patricia Racette, soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, and bass-baritone Bryn Terfel.
Additional information about the history of the Metropolitan Opera Guild can be found at www.metoperafamily.org/guild/about/history.aspx.