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Opera's Scotto directs, teaches, picks up honors

January 30, 2007|Ronald Blum | Associated Press

NEW YORK — Renata Scotto loves directing and teaching as much as she did singing.

"I like to live in the present," she said. "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."

The retired soprano, who turns 73 next month, was among five people honored Sunday night by Opera News with awards for distinguished achievement, joined by Metropolitan Opera Music Director James Levine, soprano Deborah Voigt, tenor Ben Heppner and bass Rene Pape.

Scotto made 314 appearances at the Met from her debut in October 1965 to her finale, in January 1987. She directed during her final run, and that's become her new profession.

"I love it. It's completely different, of course," she said. "There's more responsibility -- you have responsibility for everybody -- the stage, the scenery. It's another perspective. You see the show differently."

When Voigt took on the title role of Puccini's "Tosca" for the first time, at the Florida Grand Opera in 2001, Scotto was her director. "The thing that was really most impressive is that she didn't try to put her stamp on it," Voigt said. "She led me through it and helped me find my way through the role and my Tosca, which is different from Renata Scotto's."

Scotto splits time these days between homes in Armonk, N.Y., and Noli, Italy. Looking back, she's happy she sung in the era she did -- before the increased focus on directors reinventing operas with their own visions.

"I had always a very good relationship with directors," she said. "Maybe, if I would sing nowadays, I don't know. They have sometimes ideas that don't go with the singing, the music."

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