Renata Scotto, soprano of uncommon intensity, dies at 89

Renata Scotto, a soprano of uncommon intensity who became a successful director after her singing career, died Wednesday in her hometown of Savona, Italy, according to AP.

She was 89.Scotto’s New York-based manager, Robert Lombardo, said he was called by her family and informed of her death. “I had spoken to her several weeks ago and I didn’t get any indication that anything was going on,” he said.

Scotto maintained homes in Italy and Armonk, New York.

“Renata Scotto is a true artist and profound connoisseur of voice and repertoire, gifted with technique, musicality, a personality of a rare power, always at the service of the composer, and able to emotionally stir the public in all the world in every phase of her long career,’’ soprano Cecilia Gasdia, superintendent of the Fondazione Arena in Verono, said in a statement.

Scotto made 314 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera from her debut in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly″ on Oct. 13, 1965, to her finale, also as Cio-Cio-San, on Jan. 18, 1987. She also directed during her final run, and that became her new profession.

“I like to live in the present,″ she said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. ”Of course, I watch my DVDs. I enjoyed every second of my career. Now I live with the young singers. I love them so much.″

Born Feb. 24, 1934, in Sovona, Scotto debuted there in 1952 as Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata” and sang the role the next day at Milan’s Teatro Nuovo.

She debuted at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala on Dec. 7, 1957, the opening night of the season, in the title role of Catalani’s “La Wally” alongside Mario Del Monaco with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting.

When Scotto made her Met debut, The New York Times headlined her as a new star.

“She is short, on the plump side, with a round face that is remarkably expressive,” Raymond Ericson wrote. “She is a lyric coloratura, with a relatively small voice that carries in a big auditorium by virtue of its concentrated tone. And she is a complete actress, in voice and movement.”

When Scotto sang the title role in Bellini’s “Norma” on the opening night of the Met’s 1981-82 season, she was booed by Maria Callas fans who were opposed to anyone else singing the role.

She starred alongside Luciano Pavarotti in the first “Live from the Met” telecast in 1977, of Puccini’s La “Bohème.” As the end of her singing career approached, she turned to directing.

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