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Graziella Sciutti; Opera Singer, Director

April 12, 2001|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Graziella Sciutti, an Italian soprano and opera director best known for her interpretations of Mozart, has died, her family said Wednesday. She was 68.

Sciutti died Monday in Geneva after suffering from cancer.

Born in Turin in 1932, she made her operatic debut at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France in 1951.

She went on to perform under Herbert von Karajan at Milan's La Scala. She was lead soprano at a smaller theater there called La Piccola Scala for eight years from its inception in 1955.

She became a member of the Vienna State Opera in 1960, and the following year made her debut in San Francisco in one of her most celebrated roles, as Susanna in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro."

Sciutti began her directing career at Covent Garden in London and at the Glyndebourne Festival in England, where she directed and performed in Poulenc's "La Voix Humaine" in 1977.

The former diva then went on to direct in Canada and for opera companies in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Dallas and Miami, as well as in Britain, Germany and Italy.

Sciutti directed the San Francisco Opera as recently as 1997, during its 75th anniversary season, in a production of "The Marriage of Figaro" that the San Francisco Examiner declared "a major, scintillating, unambiguous hit."

The reviewer singled Sciutti out for her "canny direction" that pulled the work together, and alluded to her 1961 debut there.

"Sciutti," he wrote, "a great exponent of Susanna in an earlier era, has trumped the two previous directors of this 1982 production in . . . significant ways.

"Sciutti prizes motivation," he added. "She has staged the recitatives with as much care to mining subtleties as the musical numbers, and they have been woven like glittering threads in a tapestry of human folly."

Sciutti joined London's Royal College of Music in the mid-1980s and continued to teach there until shortly before her death.

She leaves a daughter, Susanna, and a grandson, Michael. The funeral will take place Tuesday at the Italian Catholic Mission in Geneva.

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