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Legendary       Renata Scotto is molding the future of opera
with herOpera Academy at th...
'Jflell, when I was four or five, I'd get on the table,                 Her presentcareeras a teacher  and director comes
foperasinging]is indeeda greatthing, that a voiceis        with the best singersand conductors at La Scala. And
a great gi...
Above, soprono ond Acodemy student Moureen Froncis with Joonne
Homlish (SAP Recitol Holl sponsor) ond Robert Heolh (MCW ch...
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Celebrity Feature Story/Opera Star Renata Scotto, BY NANCY ANGIELLO


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THE PASSION & THE MUSIC, by NANCY ANGIELLO. Feature story on the famed opera legend, Renata Scotto, personally interviewed and profiled by writer Nancy Angiello, published in Panache Magazine.

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Celebrity Feature Story/Opera Star Renata Scotto, BY NANCY ANGIELLO

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  2. 2. ft/t(1 ilr' Legendary Renata Scotto is molding the future of opera soprar,o with herOpera Academy at theMusic Conservatory of Westchester. B y N ancy A n giello If 717hen operadiva RenataScottowalks into a Better yer, you can sit with Madamescotto right X / room, shefills the space with energy. No, here in Vhite Plains,where she is the head teacher V Y not the haughty grandeur one would and coach of her own monthlong academy,the expectfrom a prima donna of her worldwide fame. Renata Scotto Opera Academy at the Music This beautiful,petite whirlwind is warm and engag- Conservatory Westchester. of ing, someone you want to talk with for hours about She beams,she trills her rs. She charms,lacing her her careeras a famedsinger, prolific recordingartist stories with Italian, exclamationsand emotion. She operastage and recitalist; directorland revered opera wavesher hands; like butterfliesthey punctuatethe air, coachand teacher. You want to sit with her by the fluttering above her. Madama Bu*erfly indeed: Like Mediterranean, sippingvino and sharingthe pastaal Puccini'sheroine whom she immortalized for years, pesto she loves to cook, absorbingthe air of her Scottooffstage the epitomeof graceand passion. is native land. You want to find out why sheis who she "I'm Italian.I have passionl" exclaims, she sea-blue is - this daughterof a policemanand a seamstress eyeslightingup. "In Liguria,all of my peoplehaveit. from a provincialseaside town on the Ligurian coast It's determination." 'Was this determination it that helpeda little girl from of Italy, who became one of the most belovedsopra- nos and singingactresses her generation. of a fishingvillagebecomeLa Diva RenataScotto?
  3. 3. 'Jflell, when I was four or five, I'd get on the table, Her presentcareeras a teacher and director comes singing.And then I would go to be evenhigher,to the from needingnew challenges. take risks. I need "I balcony!" shesmiles. "And when Mammawould sew, them." This drive to keep opera at its highestlevel shewould sing.My mother neverhad a big voice,and I was the reason behind creating her two-year-old would sing along with her. But what I wantedwas to Renata Scotto Opera Academy at the Music sing,loud. think I wasalwaysa prima donna,"shesays. I Conservatory of tJfestchester,which counts PlScido "As a child, I had so little that I wanted everything Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Marilyn Horne, when I grew up," shewrote in her autobiography (with BeverlySills,DeborahVoigt andJames Levineamong Octavio Roca) Scorro:More Than a Diva. By 18, in And though Scottoteaches her artisticadvisors. stu- "1952,shemade her operaticdebut in her hometown, dents one-on-onefor the five-hour day, monthlong Savona,as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata.In 1953 session, has hired talentedvocal coaches: she former Scotto made her debut at La Scala in Milan. On concertpianist Ken Noda and John Fisher,both of September3, 1,957, she became an international the Metropolitan Opera; Cristina Stanescuof the celebrity - at 23 yearsold - after shereplaced Maria Mannes and Manhattan music schools; and Lynn Callas as Amina in Bellini's La Sonnambulain Baker of the New York City Opera. "It hasto be a Edinburgh. And so it began:Scotto'shalf century of tearn,"Scottostresses."It's neverI am andI do." singingin the bestinternationaloperahouses, creating But there'sno questionthat the srudents come to her place in music history as the masterof bel canto the Academy for Scotto. This year,the 14 who were (think Verdi,Bellini) andverismo(like Puccini)style of admitted (from hundreds of applicants) are from opera.Her most famousportrayals,includingthoseas France, Canada, Japan, Russia, Finland, Korea, a leading soprano at the Metropolitan Opera from 7967 to 1986, were ascharacters suchas Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), Mimi (ta Bohlme) and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor). /-! cotto'sclaimto fameis her mlentfor makingevery word count."I'm an actress who sings, a singer or ,rlwho acts,"sheexplains. "Renata believesdeeply in sharing her gifts, her insighmand experience. She'sdevotedto continuingthe traditions of great singing and great music, teaching young singersthe art of singing.Her Iove for this art- form, her hard work and her contributionsto its future areboundless. Lucky for us," saysMetropolitanOpera star DeborahVoigt. Below,RenoroScottowllh sopronoSirkko lompimiikl or the 2004 moster closs.At rlght, Renoto Scotto os Musetfo in Puccinllftci Eohdme. L F U z { z o z = ACHF
  4. 4. foperasinging]is indeeda greatthing, that a voiceis with the best singersand conductors at La Scala. And a great gift," so studentsmust prove this in their he said, 'You have to be better than them!' I mean, work. If not? Say arrivaderci the chanceto be at to come on!.But then it becomesa habit, and this is the the Academy:Indeed,alreadytwo singers havebeen way fto greatness]. askedto leavethe programsinceits inception. "And, as a teacher,I've seen many singers who get impatient. And I say: 'There are other joos you can cotto'stough-love inspiration a teacher her as is do.' " At the sametime, she says,"I've learned how to own past.Having had so muchsupportthrough- be a little bit of a psychologist. If a singer is shn you out her life - from incrediblydemandingcoaches have to approach them smiling, but still be tough. But and, most notably, from her husband,violinist and for- some of them, you can really treat badly, and they mer concertmasterof La Scala,Lorenzo Anselmi - no don't care.They want it that way!" doubt made her the demanding yet generousteacher Important pointers on preparing nerves for a con- she is todav. cert are also a part of Scotto's teaching agenda at the "I had a coachin the beginning my career, of who Academy: "First, you have to show how to relax, to wasso toughyou cannotbelieve I wasat La Scala, it. 19 do breathing exercises, concentrate - especiallyrc to ycarsold. He'd makemecry,he'dmakeme sit therefor get involved not with the voice but with the character. six hoursand stayon one page, page!" I had three one 'Who am I? Xlhy am I singing this aria?"' or four like this - MaesrroTonini, who was Maria Scotto also guidesher students away from one com- Callas's teacher well, wasoneat the beginning my as of mon, easy-learningtool. "I don't want singers to lis- careerand he was the best.I wasvery,very lucky." ten to recordings.They're just reading what was writ- But Scotto revealsthat her husbandof 40 years ten and learning what was sung. So it's easy ro say "was the greatest part of my career. was working He 'this is what Renata Scotto did,' but what I did was me, my personality, and you cannor copy! Yet stu- dents do use recordings becauseitt too expensive to go to a coach." "Students on the thresholds of their career need a voice teacher,a coach and management.They spend all their time working on their voices, so they have no income," says Deutsch. For the most deserving, the Academy has a scholarship program, which depends entirely on private donations. Private funding also enables the Academy to offer the public a chanceto see At left, Renoto Scoito os Desdemono in Verdi's Olello, Belou Renoto Scotto with soprono Ellie Dehn ot the 2004 moster closs. CHE
  5. 5. Above, soprono ond Acodemy student Moureen Froncis with Joonne Homlish (SAP Recitol Holl sponsor) ond Robert Heolh (MCW choirmon). At right, Renoto Scotto bosks in the glory of o iob well done ot the MCW finol sludenl recitol in June. a greatoperastarat work (with master classes) to and see Scotto's - students futuregreats singat the final - concert, at $10 a ticket. all Not everygreatartistcanteach, which makes Scotto all the more rare.'Some singers don't want to teach," shesays. "It's a very diffictrltmomentin life,whenyou realizethat ageputs a limit on your voice and career. But I love theatre, aspects. don't singanymore... all I "I okayl" Sheshrugs. candirect,I canteach. muchI So cangiveto the theatre." Along with teaching, Scottohasa major career a as stagedirector,which beganat the Met in 1986 with MadamaButterfly. Sincethen,shehasdonetwo, some- t the Conservatory's final student recital in A times three, productionsa year - including Ia June, audience members could see that A Traviataat the New York City Opera, televisedon L responsibility full light, centerstage, in with PBS,that earnedher an Emmy Award for Best Live the astounding level of finessethe studentsshowed. MusicalEvent, and productionsin Miami, Italy and And offstage beautifuldiva, their teacher, a Madame Chile,amongotherplaces. is thrilledwith her most She Scotto, sat front row and center,resplendent a in recent. work with Norma in Helsinki. Next up: to cream gown. She closedher eyes,swayedwith the Greece October f.orLucia di Lammermoor. in music.A pained expression crossed her face during Her love for everyaspect the theatre- not just of poignantmomentsin an aria; she clenchedher fist, the music- is what drawsScotto."The easiest is part hunchedforward in her seat,silently mouthing the with the singers, because know the music and the I words alongwith her students. Shecheered, eyes her opera. The singers trust me becausedon't askthemto I bright.Joy and pride escaped lips with bravo or her do crazy thingsonstage."But therearethoseprickly brava.The students their work. Bravi,the crowd did professional divas,sheadmits:"Sometimes they think roared,giving a standingovarion ro rhe students- they know everything. And then, you haveto argue! and to MadameScotto,an arristictreasure, right in Oh, men are easier! I love men! 'Womenare really our midst. more difficult. And directingtotally makesme nerv- ous. I say,'My God, am I right? Do I do something N anr ') 'Angi {'l l ( , i s i r w r i tc r l i Yi ng i n Vc s t( .hc s t( . r (l o u n t l ' . I I c r a rt i (' l (' s wrong?' You fcel the responsibility with the young lrrrrtr rrlllrcirtctl in M'n' l'or'/i. /n SIJ'lc. l[arlctnoisalle. Qlamour an<l BoI singers, especially." ,.1)U 1t i L a m ( ) l l g o tIl c r pu| ) I i ( 'r ti ons , I S E P T E M BER /OC TOBER 2