As we celebrate the 79th birthday of Renata Scotto on Feb.24, I think back to the period when so many people (including yours truly) spent so much energy trashing her, largely owing to her essays into heavier repertory, and the extremely flawed top voice. Yes,indeed, like my beloved Martha Moedl, she was a "flawed Kunst diva," but when we stop and take note of the body of work that Scotto produced, and realize that,along with Diana Soviero, she has been the very last of the kind of "verismo sopranos" whose emotional intensity recalls the now-forgotten era of Muzio,Favero,Zeani,etc.
There is so much more in singing than just "voice," and we can point out many artists who might be deemed "unlistenable" to those who do not delve more deeply into their over-all contribution to music. Callas would be a prime example, as would be Leyla Gencer, Gwyneth Jones,Conchita Supervia, Magda Olivero,Raina Kabaiwanska,and others who were not simply "producers of gorgeous vocal tones," but who bring so much deep emotion to singing...the phrasing, the importance of even a single syllable, the love of the vocal line, the unforgettable "golden moments" that we may remember so well, even despite some rather "strange" sounds,like Leyla's scoops, Jones' taking three hours to get on the correct pitch of a note, Moedl's not knowing what will come out, Supervia's "goat-like' vibrato,etc.
So we wish Mme.Scotto a very happy birthday and those of us who can shed some of the "baggage of the 1980's" must revere what she has meant to opera;sadly, there do not seem to be any singers today who can bring us the kind of depth of feeling that,for example, Muzio singing "O del mio amato ben" or just Moedl standing there as Brunnhilde without even uttering a single note, can offer.
Thanks to you,Mme.Scotto, and I humbly apologize for some of my rants!!! Sincerely, Charlie