Antonio Scotti


Antonio Scotti

Antonio Scotti (January 25, 1866-February 26, 1936) was an Italian baritone. He was a principal artist of the New York Metropolitan Opera for more than 30 years but also sang with great success at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Life

Antonio Scotti was born in Naples. His family wanted him to enter the priesthood but he emarbarked instead on a career in opera. He received his early vocal training from Esther Trifari-Paganini and Vincenzo Lombardi. According to most sources, he made his debut at Malta's Theatre Royal in 1889, performing the role of Amonasro in Giuseppe Verdi's "Aida". Engagements at various Italian operatic venues ensued and he gained valuable stage experience singing in Spain, Portugal, Russia and South America. In 1898 he debuted at La Scala, Milan, as Hans Sachs in "Die Meistersinger". (This was a surprising choice of role because his subsequent career did not embrace the operas of Richard Wagner.)

Scotti's American debut took place in the fall of 1899, when he sang in Chicago. On December 27 of the same year he made his first appearance in New York at the Metropolitan Opera, undertaking the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni". He would become an audience favorite at the Met, earning acclaim for his graceful singing of Donizetti's bel canto music as well as for the touch of elegance that he brought to his Verdi and verismo interpretations.

At the Met in 1901, Scotti became the first artist to sing the role of Baron Scarpia in Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" in America. He appeared, too, in the American premieres of Francesco Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur", Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's "Le donne curiose", Umberto Giordano's "Fedora", Franco Leoni's "L'Oracolo" and Isidore de Lara's "Messaline". Scotti also sang a variety of mainstream baritone parts during his time at the Met, including Rigoletto, Malatesta, Belcore, Iago, Falstaff, Marcello, Sharpless and, as we have seen, Don Giovanni and Scarpia. He performed opposite his close friend Enrico Caruso when the illustrious tenor made his Met debut as the Duke of Mantua in 1903, and partnered 15 different Toscas over the course of his long career at the house.

Scotti appeared at Covent Garden in London for the first time in 1899, singing Don Giovanni. He performed there on a regular basis until 1910, with further appearances in 1913-14. During this period, he became not only London's first Scarpia but also its first Sharpless in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" (in 1900 and 1905 respectively).

He formed his own troupe of singers in 1919, calling it, naturally enough, the Scotti Opera Company. He managed it for several seasons while touring the United States. Scotti celebrated his 25th anniversary with the Met on January 1, 1924 in a gala performance of "Tosca". By the 1930s, Scotti's voice had declined considerably but he retained his place on the Met's roster of singers due to his outstanding histrionic ability. His final Met appearance occurred on January 20, 1933, when he sang Chim-Fen in "L'Oracolo"; he had created the role in 1905.

Scotti returned to Italy to spend his retirement and died in Naples in 1936, aged 70. He had received many honors during his lifetime. In 1917, for example, he was elected an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the American fraternity for male musicians, at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Recordings and vocal characteristics

Scotti can be heard singing snatches of Scarpia's music in part of a performance of "Tosca" recorded live at the Met on Mapleson Cylinders in 1903. He also made intermittent visits to commercial recording studios from 1902 until the outbreak of World War One. Records which he cut for the British Gramophone and Typewriter Company and the American Victor Talking Machine Company have been reissued on CD. Featuring a range of solo arias and some operatic duets with Caruso, Marcella Sembrich and Geraldine Farrar, these records of Scotti's confirm that he was a stylish, well-trained and aristocratic singer. His voice was not particularly large or resonant; but it was rock steady, smooth toned and exceptionally accurate in its execution of vocal ornaments.

A striking person on stage and off, he was equally adept at portraying dramatic and comic characters.

ome notable Scotti roles

*Baron Scarpia, "Tosca"
*Chim-Fen, "L'Oracolo"
*Rigoletto, "Rigoletto"
*Iago, "Otello"
*Posa, "Don Carlo"
*Don Giovanni, "Don Giovanni"
*Amonasro, "Aida"
*Dr. Malatesta, "Don Pasquale"
*Belcore, "L'elisir d'amore"
*Falstaff, "Falstaff"
*Marcello, "La Boheme"
*Sharpless, "Madama Butterfly"

Media

[http://bassocantante.com/opera/scotti.html Scotti singing "Eri tu" from Un Ballo in Maschera]

References

David Ewen, "Encyclopedia of the Opera".John Steane, "The Grand Tradition".Michael Scott, "The Record of Singing" (Volume One).Harold Rosenthal & John Warrack, "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Opera" (second edition).Alan Blyth, liner notes for "Antonio Scotti", Pearl compact disc, GEMM CD 9937.


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