Cher Public

  • DerLeiermann: Soprano lirico fotogenico sounds like a fach a young singer in the Santa Fe Opera apprenticeship program would claim. I love... 2:33 AM
  • Camille: We got hooked by this and are currently in the last part of Act III and yes, you sure do learn a lot, Buster, you are so right!... 10:07 PM
  • Camille: Only referring to either/or of these ladies as the prototypical soprano lirico fotogenico of each other’s respective time... 10:04 PM
  • Krunoslav: ‘ Vogt and Kaufmann were on opposite ends of the spectrum vocally.’ Really? Have you tried Lauritz Melchior, Paul... 9:48 PM
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That is what fiction means

scotto_thumb“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.


  • jatm2063 says:

    And that is a good thing too. If Fleming tried to emulate Scotto’s vocalism with her much more delicate instrument, she wouldn’t last five years.

    • kashania says:

      Yes, but Fleming could learn a ton from Scotto when it comes to style. And she clearly hasn’t.

      • thomas says:

        To my knowledge, Scotto coached Renee for her debut as Violetta, but I’m not aware they’ve worked together on anything else.

        Renee has her own style and it has served her well for 20 years and counting, like it or not. The last thing she needs is advice from people who don’t attend her performances anyway.

    • dame ernestine sherman tank says:

      And she didn’t last, did she?

  • Clita del Toro says:

    I don’t think that Fleming should emulate Scotto technically or vocally. What Fleming needs is training in interpretation an style issues—artistic issues.

  • jatm2063 says:

    It took some looking, but I thought I had live a recording of this production, and I found it. After listening for about an hour, I can say that, personally, I feel their Gioconda laid a huge egg because the singing was pretty ugly overall from everyone involved, sometimes disastrously so. Although the sound is not particularly great, in that you get no sense of resonance or spaciousness, it’s pretty obvious that it was still pretty bad in the voice department.


    There is no choir school at Hogwart’s. Have you noticed? It would be comforting to know that there was one place in England where Dido and Aeneas had never been performed. On the other hand, we are robbed of the inevitable Yum-Yum from Hermione, opposite the rather gawky Nanki-Poo from Ron Weasley. (The self-effacing Harry would work backstage.)

    Perhaps it was not part of J.K. Rowling’s education, but what a scene she could have written as the Omniscient Syllabus presents an applicant with the following choice:

    “If you study with Professor Dulcibello, you will be legendary. You will sing exactly three Normas that will be perfection. Women will faint and brave men will weep. A hundred years from now musicologists will study the recording and ponder how you achieved your magic. Duels will be fought over you. The Paris Opera will be gutted and rebuilt because it will be structurally unsafe due to the pandemonium after your performances. But that’s it. After the third night you will lose your voice and never sing again.

    If you study with Mme. Frumpsted, you will have a long career in second-rank opera houses around the world. Your repertoire will be wide, applause will be polite, but by the time they get into the their cars, patrons will have forgotten your name.”

    I know which one I’d choose. Do you?

    • luvtennis says:

      Not a fair comparison, BABSY!

      Firstly, there would be precious little opera without the second-rate work horses! We need them to fill out the casts and place our faves in just the right flattering light.

      Secondly, just how much does our aspiring sorceress singer like the MUSIC, as opposed to the fame? If you love the music, then a three day career would likely lead to later drug and sex addiction issues, don’t you think?

      Thirdly, I have studied with La Frumpsted and can assure that you all her second raters are truly first rate.

    • No Expert says:

      I think it depends on whether the student is motivated by recognition and acclaim, or just by the joy of performing in opera.

      • CruzSF says:

        I hope the student motivated by recognition and acclaim realizes that starting 5 years after the 3 perfect Normas, the fans will start tearing her apart for not fulfilling her potential, for having poor technique, giving in to mental problems, for being too fat or too skinny, or for sitting on her laurels and denying the rest of us — her adoring fans — that which we are OWED.

        • richard says:

          CruzSF, I read your comment and it reminded me of a profile of a rising (and falling) diva from one of our beloved doyenne’s earlier web incarnations.

          Look at this page from an earlier incarnation of Parterre and scroll down to “This Year’s Callas”

          It’s well worth reading and synchs up with your comments. The other outputs by Dr Repertoire (I’m sure others will also remember him fondly) are decidedly chuckle worthy too!

        • CruzSF says:

          Thanks for the pointer, richard. I’ll check it out. :-)

        • CruzSF says:

          I couldn’t get through the very first entry (“ANECDOTE, DIVA”) without laughing out loud.

    • Belfagor says:

      “my candle burns at both ends
      it will not last the night
      but oh, my foes, and oh, my friends
      it casts a lovely light”

  • Rex Tremendae says:

    I was in that SFO Gioconda, and thought Mansouri did a fine job of directing. It was a memorable production also featuring fine performances by Pavarotti and Toczyska, and a rather vocally-constricted but deliciously malicious one by the young Furlanetto.

    A story circulated at the time which may be apocryphal: Apparently Mansouri was working with Scotto and had been patiently explaining his interpretation of a particular scene and trying to persuade her to perform it consistent with his vision. She listened patiently to his entreaty and finally replied, “This is very nice…but not for me” End of conversation.

  • Ruxton says:

    Scotto not much of an actress? Balls! She was one of the best operatic actresses ever.