“As beautiful as her singing was, [Renata Scotto] never was much of an actress.” — Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey
Oh, and there’s this:
Unfortunately, shortly before leaving Italy [to go to San Francisco to rehearse La Gioconda], Renata came out for a curtain call after a performance of Un ballo in maschera at La Scala, and some of the audience booed her, to which she responded with an unmistakable hand gesture, in a sense telling the ingrates what they could do with their disapproval. As a consequence, several of them decided to repeat their catcalls at the stage door, to which she replied by calling them “finocchi di Milano!” (Milanese faggots.)
This slur made all the papers and actually preceded her to San Francisco, which is just about the last city in the United States where you can get away with a remark like that, as we discovered when the production opened. This indiscretion was only one reason our Gioconda laid a huge egg….
Great story, except for one or two little things. For example, Scotto never sang Un ballo in maschera at La Scala. For another, her last performance in a staged opera at La Scala (I vespri Siciliani) was January 29, 1971, i.e., more than eight years before Gioconda in San Francisco.
As a journalist, Mansouri makes a great impresario. For once.