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  • Writer's pictureladiesvoices

Fabulous Friday and CDA x 2: Lindholm and Scotto

Today I'm reporting on the deaths of two mid-century opera sopranos. First off, a Swedish Wagnerian soprano I had heard of but wasn't really familiar with, Berit Lindholm, who died the other day at the age of 88. She had a major career, sang at Covent Garden, Bayreuth, the Met, all the usual suspects.

Here she is singing Elisabeth's entrance aria from Wagner's *Tannhäuser.* I listened to this the other day, I think it was my first time hearing her voice. There was something familiar about not so much her voice as her style or method of delivery. I tried to pinpoint who she reminded me of and was surprised to realize it was Italian-American Anna Moffo. They're not at all the same kind of singer, I bet they had almost no overlap in their rep, but Lindholm has a similar gooey quality in her singing. Not a bad thing. In small doses.

And Renata Scotto died the other day at the age of 89. I never got to hear her but was familiar with her. She didn't have a traditionally beautiful voice but was an exciting and highly expressive performer. The two most popular styles of Italian opera are bel canto and verismo - - bel canto is very restrained and elegant, verismo is more gritty and overt. Scotto sang in both styles and said her mission was to apply the elegance of bel canto to verismo and the drama of verismo to bel canto.

I was an assistant stage manager for a production of *Hansel and Gretel* in college. One night I was backstage before a performance looking through an old issue of Opera News. My mentor Karlos Moser walked by and saw Scotto as Madama Butterfly on the cover.

KARLOS: Hm, Scotto. Have you heard her?

ME: No I haven't. How would you describe her voice?

[Karlos thinks about it for a moment]

KARLOS: She has the kind of voice that could peel the paper off the wall.

She was a major star at the Met and other theaters. Franco Zefferelli did a new production of *La bohème* in the 80s. Scotto had spent her whole career playing the consumptive heroine, Mimi, and Zefferelli talked her into playing the second female lead, the scene-stealing floozy Musetta. Here's her entrance in that production:

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