Confessions Of An Operaholic

Guest DJ Renata Scotto: Opera, Risks, And Keeping It Real

Renata Scotto i i

Renata Scotto has retired from the stage, but she hasn't slowed down — she's now a director and costume designer. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist
Renata Scotto

Renata Scotto has retired from the stage, but she hasn't slowed down — she's now a director and costume designer.

courtesy of the artist

It seems Italian soprano Renata Scotto has been taking risks all her life. At age 12, she matter-of-factly declared that she would become an opera singer. At 18, she debuted in the treacherous lead role in Verdi's La Traviata.

Scotto has never looked back. Although retired from singing, she's still busy in the opera world teaching young singers and directing opera productions, even designing costumes.

The 77-year-old soprano is being honored by the Metropolitan Opera Guild Feb. 27, with a special "Met Legends" evening celebrating her career. To mark the event, I asked her to pick a few of her favorite opera recordings for an informal session of listening and conversation.

After decades of performing with the greatest singers — from Maria Callas to Luciano Pavarotti — Scotto's giddy enthusiasm for the music is undiminished. She's like a teenager falling in love with opera for the first time, passionate about today's singers — such as coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay and tenor Jonas Kaufmann — and devoted to greats of the past, like tenor Jussi Bjorling.

She's also candid about her own career, saying that she never let her sound overtake her interpretation. Scotto learned her craft from some of the very best. She witnessed the immense dedication it takes by interacting with Callas, and her vocal coach on her famous Madama Butterfly recording worked with Puccini himself.

"My career has always been as a risk-taker," Scotto says. "This is the way I am, I don't know how to explain."

Actually, she explains it rather well. Take a listen to an opera legend still on fire for her art.

Have a Renata Scotto story of your own? Tell us all about it in the comments section.

Renata Scotto Guest DJ: Opera, Risks, And Keeping It Real

Cover for Bellini: Norma

Bellini's Norma: 'Deh! Non volerli vittime'

  • Artist: Maria Callas
  • Album: Bellini: Norma

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Song
'Deh Non volerli vittime' (excerpt)
Album
Bellini: Norma
Artist
Maria Callas
Label
EMI

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Cover for Puccini: La Bohème

Puccini's La Boheme: Mimi's Death Scene (excerpt)

  • Artist: Renata Scotto
  • Album: Puccini: La Bohème

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Song
'Che avvien' (excerpt)
Album
Puccini: La Bohème
Artist
James Levine
Label
EMI
Released
2006

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Cover for Romantic Arias

Wagner's Die Meistersinger: Prize Song

  • Artist: Jonas Kaufmann
  • Album: Romantic Arias

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Song
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: 'Prize Song'
Album
Romantic Arias
Artist
Jonas Kaufmann
Label
Decca
Released
2008

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Cover for Verdi: La Traviata

Verdi's La Traviata: 'Addio del passato'

  • Artist: Renata Scotto
  • Album: Verdi: La Traviata

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Song
'Addio del passato'
Album
Verdi: La Traviata
Artist
Riccardo Muti
Label
EMI Classics
Released
1993

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Cover for Mad Scenes

Thomas' Hamlet: Mad Scene (excerpt)

  • Artist: Natalie Dessay
  • Album: Mad Scenes

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Song
Hamlet: 'A vos jeux mes amis'
Album
Mad Scenes
Artist
Natalie Dessay
Label
Virgin Classics
Released
2009

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Cover for Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly

Puccini's Madama Butterfly: 'Tu piccolo iddio'

  • Artist: Renata Scotto
  • Album: Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly

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Song
Madame Butterfly: 'Tu piccolo iddio'
Album
Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly
Artist
Renata Scotto
Label
EMI Classics
Released
1989

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Cover for Jussi Björling Edition: Studio Recordings 1930-1959

Puccini's Manon Lescaut: 'Donna non vidi mai'

  • Artist: Jussi Björling
  • Album: Jussi Björling Edition: Studio Recordings 1930-1959

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Song
Manon Lescaut: 'Dona non vidi mai'
Album
Jussi Björling Edition: Studio Recordings 1930-1959
Artist
Jussi Björling
Label
EMI
Released
1997

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Cover for Italian Opera Arias

Puccini's Manon Lescaut: 'Sola perdutta, abbandonata'

  • Artist: Renata Scotto
  • Album: Italian Opera Arias

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Song
Manon Lescaut: Sola, perduta, abbandonata
Album
Italian Opera Arias
Artist
Renata Scotto
Label
Sony Music
Released
1998

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