GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Opera and Vocal => Topic started by: knight66 on May 08, 2007, 06:16:02 AM

Title: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 08, 2007, 06:16:02 AM
30 years dead and like a rock hurled into a pool, the ripples of her way of doing things still vibrate.

Some adore her in much the way Diana was adulated. Some are allergic to her voice. Some whilst getting a lot out of her singing are not deaf to the defects.

EMI have just issued a disc of Verdi Heroines sung by Callas. It is in the Great Recordings series. It seems that three Verdi discs were planned. Two met with Callas's exacting standards, the third languished and was issued a bit at a time, presumably as EMI wore Callas down and the ultimately vetoed tracks were released by EMI shortly after her death.....that is how they respected one of their best cash cows.

Here, instead of the entire initial and earlest Verdi disc, we have bits of it, bits of the second and one track from the third. I do miss having those arias from Nabucco. But I am not clear what I would throw overboard from this very full disc.

Even the earliest, 1958, shows all the stresses, the tone under pressure, the heavy beat on high sustained notes, frequently ugly tone. But the dividends are just so potent, much too valuable to be ignored.

Callas was my introduction to Lady Macbeth's arias and no one else has come near. Caballe produced a wonderful Sleepwalking scene, that EMI butchered on reissue and we are only left with the main part of the scene. Clearly, it is so much more of a beautiful voice and she does dig into the words....but as so often, Callas projects words and imprints them onto your brain. There is an intensity other singers rarely achieve. The ripples from that one recording must have given most subsequent singers real pause for thought. How to do it as well, do it differently?

We get the famous aria from Ernani, Leontine Price sounds more refulgent, but Callas differentiates between the detestation of her husband-to-be and completely alters tone for her fantasies about escaping with her lover. It is a rounded portrait.

In the main aria of Elisabetta from Act 4 of Don Carlo, she lays the landscape out of this woman's dilemma, her unhappiness. Desdemona finds her touching and doomladen. Then we have the contrast of a rare aria from Aroldo, she runs the gamut here, anger, grief etc. It all comes to life and her voice is possibly at its very best here, it is a demanding piece.

Back to Don Carlo for O don Fatale.....'if only' comes to mind, she could have had a much extended career as a compelling mezzo, but this did not seem to interest her. Perhaps she saw it as second best. Not many sopranos would have relished singing Aida against her possible Amneris I suspect. She gives it a really intense reading.

The conductor is Rescigno, I feel he is a valuable collaborator, all support is dramatic or stealthy or tender as needed.

To end we have what the notes to the disc claim was an almost impromptu Ritorna vincitor, done at one of her final serious sessions in 1964 to show that the just recorded Crespin was not up to the challenge. Was she perhaps convincing herself at least as much as her colleagues? It sounds like a challenge, she meets it and we, almost at the end receive a sudden piece of her very greatest work.

The ripples still go on.

Mike



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Steve on May 08, 2007, 07:05:32 AM
30 years dead and like a rock hurled into a pool, the ripples of her way of doing things still vibrate.

Some adore her in much the way Diana was adulated. Some are allergic to her voice. Some whilst getting a lot out of her singing are not deaf to the defects.

EMI have just issued a disc of Verdi Heroines sung by Callas. It is in the Great Recordings series. It seems that three Verdi discs were planned. Two met with Callas's exacting standards, the third languished and was issued a bit at a time, presumably as EMI wore Callas down and the ultimately vetoed tracks were released by EMI shortly after her death.....that is how they respected one of their best cash cows.

Here, instead of the entire initial and earlest Verdi disc, we have bits of it, bits of the second and one track from the third. I do miss having those arias from Nabucco. But I am not clear what I would throw overboard from this very full disc.

Even the earliest, 1958 show all the stresses, the tone under pressure, the heavy beat on high sustained notes, frequently ugly tone. But the dividends are just so potent, much too valuable to be ignored.

Callas was my introduction to Lady Macbeth's arias and no one else has come near. Caballe produced a wonderful Sleepwalking scene, that EMI butchered on reissue and we are only left with the main part of the scene. Clearly, it is so much more of a beautiful voice and she does dig into the words....but as so often, Callas projects words and imprints them onto your brain. There is an intensity other singers rarely achieve. The ripples from that one recording must have given most subsequent singers real pause for thought. How to do it as well, do it differently?

We get the famous aria from Ernani, Leontine Price sounds more refulgent, but Callas differentiates between the detestation of her husband-to-be and completely alters tone for her fantasies about escaping with her lover. It is a rounded portrait.

In the main aria of Elisabetta from Act 4 of Don Carlo, she lays the landscape out of this woman's dilemma, her unhappiness. Desdemona finds her touching and doomladen. Then we have the contrast of a rare aria from Aroldo, she runs the gamut here, anger, grief etc. It all comes to life and her voice is possibly at its very best here, it is a demanding piece.

Back to Don Carlo for O don Fatale.....'if only' comes to mind, she could have had a much extended career as a compelling mezzo, but this did not seem to interest her. Perhaps she saw it as second best. Not many sopranos would have relished singing Aida against her possible Amneris I suspect. She gives it a really intense reading.

The conductor is Rescigno, I feel he is a valuable collaborator, all support is dramatic or stealthy or tender as needed.

To end we have what the notes to the disc claim was an almost impromptu Ritorna vincitor, done at one of her final serious sessions in 1964 to show that the just recorded Crespin was not up to the challenge. Was she perhaps convincing herself at least as much as her colleagues? It sounds like a challenge, she meets it and we, almost at the end receive a sudden piece of her very greatest work.

The ripples still go on.

Mike





Well said, mon vieux. I've enjoyed collecting her numerous recordings on EMI Classics, feauturing such legendary roles as Carmen and Aida- just a magnificent voice.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Maciek on May 08, 2007, 07:06:50 AM
Thanks, Mike, for the beautiful post. About time we had a Callas thread here! ;D

Quite recently I heard Callas singing some Mozart and was shocked - I expected something dreadfully exaggerated but what I got was really lovely and very much ahead of its time - no fireworks, a very plain, modest way of singing, it really showed how thoughtful a singer she was and how much style she had!

Maciek
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Michel on May 08, 2007, 07:18:47 AM
Can someone list the things that make Callas unique/controversial/special etc. etc

I know nothing about her but want to learn.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sean on May 08, 2007, 08:55:34 AM
Incredible singer, power and venom like nobody in the history of singing: began with Isolde and Brunhilde and took the blood and guts over to bel canto.

I had one of her Normas with Serafin though and the intensity I thought was perhaps too much for more than one listen- she was well manic.

Listening to her approach to climactic moments you feel at first she's never going to carry this off, but then she does, with shocking finality and crunch.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 08, 2007, 09:05:36 AM
Norma is a good example of what she did. She sang it more than she sang any other role. It is often referred to as a killer role; as it is simply very heavy on the voice. It is difficult to explain properly without you listening to her. Also, if you don't know the music at all, then hearing her sing Norma you may well feel, well, so what!

With that piece she moved it from being usually done as an almost oratorio, severely classical in feel, to a red of tooth and claw drama. However, in doing this she really used the music rather than damaged it and her phrasing is extremely intelligent and above all musical. She had the skill of making you think it was all coming new minted out of her mouth, rather than learned by rote and coloured here and there.

She inhabited the roles rather than 'taking' them on. Of course there were great singers before her and if you were to hear Claudia Muzio you would be surprised to hear so much of the Callas colouring....but pre-Callas. Her career was short and that was possibly in part because of the risks she took in pushing her voice, but then, if she had played safe, we would not be discussing her.

Now where is Translondon...he is the expert here.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sean on May 08, 2007, 09:28:30 AM
Can't add too much to that knight.

Indeed Callas's perhaps most interesting when compared with what others do... She meant it as few others a have done (or could do in today's cynical rubbish culture).

Must find out more about Claudia Muzio, I wonder if there's anything on YouTube.

And the incomparable Eva Turner? Have you heard her Turandot?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 08, 2007, 10:41:02 PM
On local TV recently was "Callas Forever" a pale imitation of the film's namesake, a factory reject that should have been thrown out by Zeffirelli, a long time friend of hers, who should have known better.  After their separation, Callas' husband, Meneghini was approached by many singers who begged him to promote their careers as well. His deft handling of the business end was certainly a major factor in getting his wife to the top. He had a right not only to be angry for being jilted but also not being fully appreciated for the role he played in those crucial early years. But to those aspiring young people he always had an answer. He could not turn them into Callases, they had to BE Callas.

After her departure from the stage, there were a few wannabes like Sylvia Sass who took some lessons with Callas and tried to emulate her deep lower register. But it is not one quality or two that made such a great singer, nor even a few. What they lacked (and her equal is yet to come) is the intensity of expression that she engaged her not just her voice into but her whole being.

A critic wrote in Iphigenia in La Scala right after she shed all those pounds, that she had the aura of Martha Graham while she lay on the pallet. This analogy is very close to the truth as her counterpart in dance also had that uncompromising, total commitment to art. Few film clips but more photographs capture the laserbeam intensity of her eyes (this was REALLY absent in the abovementioned film) that went all the way down to her fingernails. Who can forget her face turning into a viper's when she gets to "ma!" in the Una Voce? I really wish there were more to see and learn from. Even her sudden glare at Di Stephano in the Cavalleria duet in Tokyo was worth the price of admission.

One might ask what has all this to do with opera and singing, for that matter? And quite a few over the years asked the same question. It's the age old dilemma of words and music or words vs. music. Does the music itself have the power to convey the expression and do we need all that other baggage? This discussion is all the more pertinent in Callas' case because in the end she sacrificed her voice for dramatic expression. Other singers who kept their voices much longer like Tebaldi and Sutherland expressed the drama through the music. To lose one's voice in the alleged service of music is more an argument for the other side, how not to sing.

The solution to this dilemma may reside in the technique employed. An example would be Caballe's "O Patria Mia". It was a revelation to hear a soprano not blast out the high C for once. She wrung just as much expression from it, and maybe even more since it sounded like a very high sigh of longing. Here's is where we come to the limits of the voice, where more is less and less is even more. Singing after all, is ART and art is not life but an imitation of it.

Though others have expressed their dislike for Stassinopoulos' biography of Callas, she does make a convincing argument as much as Callas found a refuge in art, she also neglected to the same degree her own real emotional life. She actually was never able to bridge the ever increasing gap between these worlds and in the end, it was her sad nemesis.

ZB

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 08, 2007, 11:33:28 PM
Here is a photo that conveys something of what ZB explains....Medea
(http://www.mild-und-leise.de/Isolde_Jpg_Ordner/A-C/Callas_Medea.jpg)

Another in complete contrast, Traviata.
(http://www.mild-und-leise.de/Isolde_Jpg_Ordner/A-C/Callas_Violetta1.jpg)

As ZB indicates, it seems she was fulfilling on stage an inner life that was lacking off-stage and so she invested so very heavily into the characters.

However, as well as the use of words, she would make the music itself an expressive vehicle, it was no longer a background to the words, it was not there for foot tapping reasons. She would add to the meaning of what she was singing through the florid passages in a way hardly any other singers managed.

Unfortunately, she did ruin her voice, partly that may have been through psychological reasons. Clearly an insecure person, her voice became increasingly fallible, that fallibility probably deepened by her unstable emotional state.

Other singers have given us a lot, but in terms of expressing the music and the words and projecting character and understanding of the characters, I cannot think of a comparable singer and that ability has become a sort of siren sound through which a number of singers wrecked themselves in their attempt in emulation...Suliotis is another who was hailed as her successor, a handful of recordings and a brief career, she retired with a ruined voice.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 08, 2007, 11:41:43 PM
Of course there were great singers before her and if you were to hear Claudia Muzio you would be surprised to hear so much of the Callas colouring....but pre-Callas. Her career was short and that was possibly in part because of the risks she took in pushing her voice, but then, if she had played safe, we would not be discussing her.

It's difficult if not impossible to assess any influence Muzio had on Callas, certainly not live, since she died in 1936 being a doyenne of the Chicago Opera from 1922 to 1932. (I'm taking this from my Prima Voce CD of Muzio.)

So maybe Maria heard recordings of hers, but that's not really enough. Di Hidalgo, her teacher, was a good maybe even great singer but I never found any recordings of hers. One doesn't read that she was an exceptionally dramatic performer. The person who influenced Callas the most, musically and perhaps even dramatically was Serafin. And he came just at the right time in her development. Later on Zeffirelli directed her but she was already possessed of her gifts. Maybe a similarity can be drawn to Mary Garden, another great actress of an earlier time, maybe even better than as a singer. (Some of her recordings do remain.) These women seem to have been sprung from the head of Zeus without real or virtual contact with one another.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 08, 2007, 11:55:45 PM
Well, re Muzio, I had the same kind of double-take hearing her as I did on hearing Berlioz orchestration and colours in Mehul, the teacher of Berlioz. There are some effects that I would find it difficult to believe were coincidence. I don't think Callas was likely to divulge or admit to much influence from other singers. Being mentored by Serafin was a different issue and would not impinge on her reputation as an original.

Rather as with Berlioz, who took what he heard and turned it into something much greater; Callas may well have heard Muzio, but incorporated the approach and developed it onto a much more intense level.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 09, 2007, 02:35:11 PM
Wow, Mike, those pictures were right on. Those eyes and mouth are reminiscent of the famous pix of her still in the Butterfly costume getting the subpoena after the opera, I think it was Chicago. And just look at those hands in both the shots, splayed back and open in the first with thumbs up. (I just tried it. It's not easy.) And the second is a virtual poem with fingers pointing upwards like a plant. Extraordinary.

Where she got all that body awareness is a wonder. Incredible intuition. Zeffirelli mentioned that she did the disappearing act in Sonnambula by holding her breath and letting it go all at once or something like that. And then there is the story of Jon Vickers finding her beating the ground with a stick in the rehearsal for Medea without her prior knowledge that the ancient Greeks called on the gods that way.

And on and on. And WHO would have been able to stand her implacable anger in Tosca? I don't remember who said it but she could have killed Scarpia with that alone, as amply illustrated in the first picture.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 09, 2007, 04:47:06 PM
I've been an adoring fan of hers in my early years, but as I developed a taste in voices I got more critical. What remains is some instances of extraordinary vocalism, and huge amounts of unexcelled vocal acting. Even in her later years she could transfix one with her dramatic abilities. The EMI french recitals (esp. the first one) are a case in point. The arias by Chimène, Iphigénie, Orphée, Berlioz' Marguerite, Alceste find her in raw, unglamorous voice, but she commands attention from first note to last. Among her really glorious pieces of singing, one must mention the Turandot aria In Questa reggia (from the recital, not the complete opera), the Rossini Armide aria, the Wally aria and certainly a few others. One that she's often had BIG troubles with is the Addio del passato from Traviata's last act. She frequently cracked the last, pianissimo high note. Not necessarily a disaster, given the context.

Membran has issued a 13 disc set of her pre-1956 discs. It's still in wrappings on my shelves.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 09, 2007, 09:23:21 PM
The arias by Chimène, Iphigénie, Orphée, Berlioz' Marguerite, Alceste find her in raw, unglamorous voice, but she commands attention from first note to last. Among her really glorious pieces of singing, one must mention the Turandot aria In Questa reggia (from the recital, not the complete opera), the Rossini Armide aria, the Wally aria and certainly a few others...Membran has issued a 13 disc set of her pre-1956 discs. It's still in wrappings on my shelves.

I would just as much have Christmas presents by now still wrapped!!
Her "Wally" aria is in a class by itself.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: val on May 09, 2007, 11:31:51 PM
Rearding complete operas, and not only arias or excerpts, I believe that the greatest moments of Callas were:

BELLINI: Norma, with Del Monaco, Simionato and Votto live in the Scala (but the sound is bad).

DONIZETTI: Lucia de Lammermoor, with Tagliavini and Serafin or with Di Stefano and Karajan (1955).

ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Seviglia with Gobbi and Galliera.

VERDI: Macbeth with the fabulous Vitor de Sabata, Traviata with Bastianini (and in spite of Giulini), Un Ballo in Maschera with Gobbi and Votto.

PUCCINI: Tosca with Gobbi and Sabata and Madame Butterfly with Karajan (La Scala).

And, for those who like this opera, Medea, with Barbieri and Bernstein.

The version of Puccini's Turandot is remarkable but only because of Callas.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 05:45:38 AM
Rather belatedly, I contribute to this topic on my favourite singer of all times. It was Callas's voice, which introduced me to Italian opera. I heard her first on some reissued 78s (the Mad Scene from I Puritani, still one of her greatest recordings) and from then on, I just got my hands on anything I could. It wasn't that easy back in the early 1970s as EMI (it seems unbelievable now) had deleted nearly all the Callas catalogue, and I had to build up my collection slowly, by resorting to second hand shops and imports. In retrospect, this was probably a good thing, both for my student purse, and because it allowed me to get to know one work or recital disc, before acquiring another. Well meaning people tried to introduce me to other singers, but it was no good, I just didn't like the sound of those "more beautiful" voices. For me there was more truth in a single note from Callas, than all those other singers put together. Of course, older now, I have come to love and appreciate many other singers, but Callas remains my favourite, outside the mainstream, and to one side of it. I have all her commercial discs, and most of the live performances, since committed to disc. I have also seen every bit of film I can get my hands on, and have read, I think, every book about her published in English. Of these I would recommend John Ardoin's The Callas Legacy and Callas at Julliard, and Michael Scott's Maria Meneghini Callas, which comes closest to a true assessment of her art, without too much emphasis on the scandals and myths which surround her life.
Listening to Callas is never an easy experience. Unlike many other singers, you can't listen with only half an ear, while you get on with something else. She demands attention. And to really get her, you do have to listen to her in a complete role, libretto in hand. Then and only then will you understand her incredible musicality and dramatic insight. Unfortunately her recorded legacy is not really representative of her actual stage career. Walter Legge recorded her in many roles she had either given up (Turandot, Aida, Cavelleria Rusticana) or had never never sung at all (La Boheme, Manon Lescaut, Pagliacci,), but refused to record her in roles she wanted to do (Macbeth, Anna Bolena, Il Pirata, Armida, Alceste). He also refused to record her in one of her greatest successes Medea, which was eventually recorded by Ricordi. So to hear Callas at her greatest, you often have to go to the live recordings, and listen through decidedly lo-fi sound. Of those, absolute musts are Norma (La Scala, 1955), Lucia de Lammermoor (Berlin, 1955), Anna Bolena (La Scala, 1957), La Sonnambula (La Scala, 1955 and Cologne, 1957), Medea (Dallas, 1958), La Traviata, (Covent Garden, 1958) and Un Ballo in Maschera (La Scala, 1957).
John Steane has written somewhere that when we return to Callas recordings which we have in our mind's ear, it is often to find how economically she achieves her effects. This is because she does so from within the music. The drama is all in the voice, and the way she colours it. She does not add extraneous sobs and gulps, the way so many other singers do, in order to make a dramatic effect. It is also a complete misnomer, that the voice was intrinsically an ugly one. Sure, she could make ugly sounds, sometimes on purpose, though often not, but she could also sing with great beauty of tone. In the closing scene of Anna Bolena, the cavatina is sung with a perfect legato and a melting beauty of tone, the voice perfectly focused. In fact, how often, in this opera, are we made aware of the clear focus of the voice, and the cleanliness of attack on certain phrases, especially in contrast to the vaguer focus of Simionato and Rossi-Lemeni, great singers though they were.
Admittedly from the late 1950s onwards, the voice began to deteriorate sharply. Whole tomes have been written as to the causes, with almost everyone putting forward a different theory, and I suppose we will never know the true reason for this. However her musical intentions are never in doubt, and even some of those late recordings can reap dividends. I confess there are times that even I find them uncomfortable listening, yet there are others when I hardly notice the defects, so unerringly she seems to capture the mood and feel of a piece.
As Andrew Porter wrote, when reviewing the second studio Norma:
There are people who have a kind of tone deafness to the timbres of Callas' present voice, who don't respond to one of the most affecting and eloquent of all sounds. They will stick to the earlier set. But I know that it is the new one which I shall be listening to again and again, not unaware of, not even unflinching from, its faults, but still more keenly responsive to its beauties.
I suppose I feel the same way about her whole oeuvre.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: 71 dB on May 12, 2007, 06:02:15 AM
Callas is one of those artists who lived too early. Her heavenly voice is distroyed but stone aged recording technology. I wish she lived in the digital era. I probably never buy any opera's by her because they are just too old for me. Pitty.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sean on May 12, 2007, 06:21:56 AM
Great post Tsaras, I particularly look forward to hearing Callas in I puritani.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 06:26:12 AM
Callas is one of those artists who lived too early. Her heavenly voice is distroyed but stone aged recording technology. I wish she lived in the digital era. I probably never buy any opera's by her because they are just too old for me. Pitty.

I used to feel the same way about 78s. Thank God I read John Steane's book The Grand Tradition. His enthusiasm led me to explore some great voices, and  I discovered the amazing art of such singers as Rosa Ponselle, Caruso, Frida Leider, Claudai Muzio, Lotte Lehmann...I could go on. I wouldn't want to listen exclusively to 78s, but I'm glad I found them. And really the sound on many of Callas's records is still pretty good. The 1953 Tosca is pretty incredible still and, in fact, more naturally recorded than many of its stereo and digital successors.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 06:46:17 AM
I fogot to add another point in my previous post. It has often been stated that Callas's fame rested on her undoubted stage presence and dramatic gifts, and though this is no doubt partly true, it doesn't explain her continuing popularity, or why her records should sell in such huge numbers. There have been plenty of other great singer/actors, whose recorded legacy is relatively slight. I can think of Teresa Stratas and Josephine Barstow, both of whom are tremendous on stage, but whose voices convey very little of that presence on record. This is where Callas is different. Her presence and personality fairly burst through the speakers. She creates drama for the mind's theatre, as surely as if she were standing there before us. With Callas, I no longer listen to the singer, but to the story and character she is unfolding. An example of the differences would be to listen to her performance of say O patria mia, from Aida, alongside Caballe's. Now this is an aria which never worked well for Callas. Caballe here is divine, the top C spun out in a pure pianissimo, which is literally breathtaking. I am astonished and captivated, but I am no longer listening to the opera, I am listening to Caballe. In the Callas version , the note is somewhat earthbound and effortful to say the least, but it becomes as nothing, so wistfully has she longed for her homeland in the previos measures. Indeed I can't hear the words o cielei azzuri, without hearing Callas's peculiarly yearning tone. Someone once said of Callas to John Steane, "Of course you had to see her", to which he replied "Ah, but I can, and I do!"
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Valentino on May 12, 2007, 06:53:15 AM
I don't have much, but maybe some of you know this one:

Bellini: Norma
Del Monaco, Modesti, Callas, Stignani, Cavallari, Cesarini
Orchestra sinfonica e Coro di Roma della Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI Roma SO and Chorus)
Serafin
Recorded live June 29th 1955.

The recorded sound is appalling, but Callas' voice is not.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: 71 dB on May 12, 2007, 06:58:01 AM
And really the sound on many of Callas's records is still pretty good. The 1953 Tosca is pretty incredible still and, in fact, more naturally recorded than many of its stereo and digital successors.

Really? the clips I have heard sound plain awful.

Explain me how you can make a more natural recording with a system with both linear and non-linear distortion, noise and limited dynamic range?

The only historical recordings I have ever bought are 2 CDs of Elgar conducting Elgar. I don't hear anything natural in the sound but plenty of distortion and noise.  ::)

I have these principles:

pre- 60's: Forget it, it's all mono noise.
60's: The best recordings are bearable. I have Elgar from this era.
70's: Analog tecnology gets perfected. The best recordings are very good.
80's: Beginning of digital era. Quality varies a lot.
90's: Engineers have learned digital technology. Quality is very good.
00's: Era of multichannel sound. The best recordings are absolutely stunning.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 07:03:01 AM
Really? the clips I have heard sound plain awful.

Explain me how you can make a more natural recording with a system with both linear and non-linear distortion, noise and limited dynamic range?

The only historical recordings I have ever bought are 2 CDs of Elgar conducting Elgar. I don't hear anything natural in the sound but plenty of distortion and noise.  ::)

I have these principles:

pre- 60's: Forget it, it's all mono noise.
60's: The best recordings are bearable. I have Elgar from this era.
70's: Analog tecnology gets perfected. The best recordings are very good.
80's: Beginning of digital era. Quality varies a lot.
90's: Engineers have learned digital technology. Quality is very good.
00's: Era of multichannel sound. The best recordings are absolutely stunning.

Obviously we have different priorities. I know nothing about technical matters. I prefer to listen to music, rather than the sound it makes
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 07:04:54 AM
I don't have much, but maybe some of you know this one:

Bellini: Norma
Del Monaco, Modesti, Callas, Stignani, Cavallari, Cesarini
Orchestra sinfonica e Coro di Roma della Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI Roma SO and Chorus)
Serafin
Recorded live June 29th 1955.

The recorded sound is appalling, but Callas' voice is not.

It is another one of her best Nomas, but the La Scala I mentioned from the same year is better still.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 12, 2007, 07:12:55 AM
TL, Thanks for your posts, I was wondering where you had got to. I agree, you need the libretto as that helps people to understand just how subtle her characterisations were. That direct communication, so much more than getting tastefully round the notes.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: 71 dB on May 12, 2007, 07:24:21 AM
Obviously we have different priorities. I know nothing about technical matters. I prefer to listen to music, rather than the sound it makes

I am an acoustics engineer. I know a lot about "technical matters". The sound is the music. Of course you can hear the music even when the sound is bad but many nuances are lost/out of balance.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 07:29:23 AM
I am an acoustics engineer. I know a lot about "technical matters". The sound is the music. Of course you can hear the music even when the sound is bad but many nuances are lost/out of balance.

Maybe that is so, but if I were to adhere to your principals, I would have to consign most of my large CD collection to the dustbin. If I did that, I would lose many great performances, to be left with many technically excellent, but musically soulless ones. I am happy to say my ears are evidently not so finely attuned as yours, and I can therefore still enjoy all the wonderful performances I have in my collection and will continure to do for many years to come.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: paul on May 12, 2007, 07:42:02 AM
The only historical recordings I have ever bought are 2 CDs of Elgar conducting Elgar. I don't hear anything natural in the sound but plenty of distortion and noise.  ::)

I have many of the recordings of Elgar conducting his own works and playing the piano and I can't think of one of them that's in really bad, unlistenable sound. It's too bad you limit yourself to such a small period of recorded sounds as you're cheating yourself out of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Plus, as an Elgar nut, why would you not want to listen to his 78 recordings, especially Yehudi Menuhin playing the VC?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: 71 dB on May 12, 2007, 09:37:54 AM
Maybe that is so, but if I were to adhere to your principals, I would have to consign most of my large CD collection to the dustbin. If I did that, I would lose many great performances, to be left with many technically excellent, but musically soulless ones. I am happy to say my ears are evidently not so finely attuned as yours, and I can therefore still enjoy all the wonderful performances I have in my collection and will continure to do for many years to come.

Luckily there are plenty of "modern" recordings. All Naxos CD are digital, same with CPO and MDG. So much classical music has been recorded during the last 20 years. Many less known composers are recorded only now. So, I don't feel myself that limited. It just would be cool to hear Callas sing Puccini in a new multichannel SACD recording.  ;)

I'd say about 5 % of my classical CDs are older than 30 years. The only mono recordings are the 2 Elgar discs.

Plus, as an Elgar nut, why would you not want to listen to his 78 recordings, especially Yehudi Menuhin playing the VC?

I have that VC on Naxos CD (8.110902) I also have Naxos 8.111022. That's all my historical recordings.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 10:06:44 AM

 It just would be cool to hear Callas sing Puccini in a new multichannel SACD recording.  ;)



And my point is, that the fact that we can't, is not going to deprive me of listening to her art.
Incidentally, if she had been around today, she probably wouldn't have been offered a recording contract, her voice being notoriously difficult to record, and not what was considered conventionally beautiful. Nor was she the svelte, soignee, marketable figure she subsequently became. Fortunately, back in those days, careers were forged by what artists did on stage and not what they do in the recording studio.
I have been told by people in the recording business that small voices are much easier to record. This could account for the fact that, at present, we seem to be living in something of a golden age, when it comes to singers of early opera and baroque, but are suffering a dearth of great Verdi and Wagner singers.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 12, 2007, 01:13:18 PM
Very informed and thoughtful posts, TS!

One of the most fortunate turns in Callas' carreer is her meeting with Tullio Serafin. He transformed the chrysalis into a spectacular butterfly (not the Cio-Cio San variety, the one with real wings ;)).

Unfortunately, there were bad encounters too, and I count that with Walter Legge among those. I've never understood the legend that surrounded his name. Technically, most of those 1950-1957 recordings are plain dreadful compared to what was achieved by the Decca or Philips engineers at the time - not to mention his stubborn refusal to experiment with stereo until the late fifties. Add to that what TS wrote about the dubious choice of recorded repertoire and you get a tragic artistic and technical misrepresentation of Callas' art on records.

Interestingly, it should be noted that when officially retired she went back to the studios (around 1969) to record some Verdi arias that showed the flame undiminished, with good sound, and the voice in much better shape than in 1964-1965 (her last commercial recordings). Her Ritorna vincitor is hair raisingly dramatic, shot through with incandescence (woe to the hated Egizie cohorti !)

Similarly, the Corsaro, Lombardi, Don Carlo (as Eboli !) and Aroldo arias are truly magical through her unique verbal gifts. The voice here is a bit looser, with noticeable difficulty in connecting the still working middle and low registers with the refractory top.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 12, 2007, 02:39:39 PM


Interestingly, it should be noted that when officially retired she went back to the studios (around 1969) to record some Verdi arias that showed the flame undiminished, with good sound, and the voice in much better shape than in 1964-1965 (her last commercial recordings). Her Ritorna vincitor is hair raisingly dramatic, shot through with incandescence (woe to the hated Egizie cohorti !)

Similarly, the Corsaro, Lombardi, Don Carlo (as Eboli !) and Aroldo arias are truly magical through her unique verbal gifts. The voice here is a bit looser, with noticeable difficulty in connecting the still working middle and low registers with the refractory top.

I hate to contradict you, but looking at the notes from EMI's recent Studio Recitals box set, you will find that actually very little of the 1969 sessions survived. The only arias to be issued from 1969 sessions are those from  Il Corsaro, plus retakes of Arrigo! Ah parli a un core from I Vespri Siciliani, Liberamente or piangi from Attila and Te, vergin santa from I Lombardi. In his book The Callas Legacy, John Ardoin relates how the sessions were fraught with problems, Callas being extremely nervous and proceding almost inch by inch. Those arias that were released were pieced together from several takes.

The Ritorna vincitor you are talking about was an impromptu take , made at the end of one of the 1964 sessions. The day hadn't gone particularly well and they were taking a break, during which Michel Glotz, the recording producer, played the aria sung by Regine Crespin. Callas became indignant, saying "this is not Verdi or Aida! I remember when I prepared this with Maestro Serafin he wanted such agitation that I would hardly get the words in; this is like a funeral march." She turned to Rescigno, the conductor, and said "Come on, Nicola, let's do it" and that's what they did. In one take! Whatever the reasons, that challenge certainly rekindled some of the old Callas fire, and paradoxically, her voice sounds as  secure as it did many years earlier. The Eboli aria and Aroldo arias are also from the 1964 sessions.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 12, 2007, 04:50:20 PM
Thanks for the correction. Maybe I should open that big Membran box instead of relying on memory :D. I thought the aria was done around 1969, not 1964.

That Crespin-Callas tale is a well-known part of the Callas lore. Other instances feature her uncanny theatrical sense, to the point where she sometimes addressed the audience in her singing.

In a Medea performance that didn't go too well, there were murmurs and maybe even catcalls. At one crucial plot line, where she is supposed to address Giasone, she turned to the audience and uttered Medea's desperate plea "ho datto tutto a te" (I gave you everything I have).

In a Pirata performance, at the time where the Meneghinis were constantly clashing with La Scala's superintendant Ghiringelli, Calla-Imogene ostentatiously pointed at the superintendant's theater box and sang "La! Vedete, il palco funesto" ("There - look: the dreadful scaffold"). In the opera, the word palco refers to the scaffold where her lover will be hanged. But this italian word can also be used to designate a theater box. Although Ghiringelli was not in his box that night, the anecdote was widely circulated across Italy. She made news as no other opera star has ever done before or since.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Valentino on May 12, 2007, 11:25:18 PM
I have these principles:

pre- 60's: Forget it, it's all mono noise.
60's: The best recordings are bearable. I have Elgar from this era.
70's: Analog tecnology gets perfected. The best recordings are very good.
80's: Beginning of digital era. Quality varies a lot.
90's: Engineers have learned digital technology. Quality is very good.
00's: Era of multichannel sound. The best recordings are absolutely stunning.
Off topic now, but anyway:
pre- 60's: No Busch quartet, no Furtwagler, no Toscanini, no Flagstad for you then, not to mention Reiner's '54 stereo Zarathustra!
60's: Lots of great stereo recordings were made then, e.g. Walter Legge's for EMI.
70's: The best recordings are very good. Too many mikes by DG. The Karajan-effect. A strong will, a belief in technology, but lack of knowledge. The maestro got what he wanted.
80's: Quality varies a lot. Just like in the 60s and 70s. It's not the technology. It's the engineers. Early 80's Philips sounds marvellous.
90's: Variable quality still. From appalling to stunning.
00's: Era of multichannel sound. The best recordings are absolutely stunning, but so far not many of those: Very often too many microphones, and to "hot". "There's nothing I can't fix, I do it in the mix." Not.

Back to topic. TL, I'm utterly impressed. Thanks for sharing.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 13, 2007, 03:49:36 AM
Getting the disc that prompted this thread, brought to me my first hearing of that 1964 Aida aria. It is magnificent and there is certainly defiance in it. What a shame she seemed not to be able to sustain that level of vocalism consistently by that stage. I agree that we have also missed out on some of her best roles, Lady M in the studio would have been a great addition. I will get round to that live version. I did hear a chunk of it on headphones in a shop and decided against; but perhaps headphones are the wrong medium in this instance.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 13, 2007, 04:45:43 AM
I agree that we have also missed out on some of her best roles, Lady M in the studio would have been a great addition. I will get round to that live version. I did hear a chunk of it on headphones in a shop and decided against; but perhaps headphones are the wrong medium in this instance.

Mike

I have to admit that the sound is not one of the best La Scala broadcasts, and certainly not up tp the standard of the Berlin Lucia, for instance. It is worth persevering, however, for the contributions of both Callas and Da Sabata. Callas is in sovereign voice here, and both Vieni t'affretta and la luce langue are sung with far more vocal freedom than on the 1959 EMI recordings. However, Da Sabata, takes the Sleepwalking Scene far too fast, and Callas is far less able to make her dramatic points. Rescigno gets it just right in the studio recording, and here she comes up with one of her psychologically most probing performances. I doubt I will ever hear a more searching version of this scene.
Incidentally, the lack of a studio Macbeth, with Callas, Gobbi, Di Stefano and Zaccaria; Da Sabata, Serafin or Karajan conducting is one which is continual cause for regret.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 13, 2007, 04:50:07 AM


One of the most fortunate turns in Callas' carreer is her meeting with Tullio Serafin. He transformed the chrysalis into a spectacular butterfly (not the Cio-Cio San variety, the one with real wings ;)).

This is indeed true. Callas always aknowledged the huge debt she owed to Serafin, who became almost like a father figure to her. She was a deal less charitable towards her husband, who also had a great influence on her early career, albeit in non musical matters.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 13, 2007, 05:07:24 AM

In a Medea performance that didn't go too well, there were murmurs and maybe even catcalls. At one crucial plot line, where she is supposed to address Giasone, she turned to the audience and uttered Medea's desperate plea "ho datto tutto a te" (I gave you everything I have).

In a Pirata performance, at the time where the Meneghinis were constantly clashing with La Scala's superintendant Ghiringelli, Calla-Imogene ostentatiously pointed at the superintendant's theater box and sang "La! Vedete, il palco funesto" ("There - look: the dreadful scaffold"). In the opera, the word palco refers to the scaffold where her lover will be hanged. But this italian word can also be used to designate a theater box. Although Ghiringelli was not in his box that night, the anecdote was widely circulated across Italy. She made news as no other opera star has ever done before or since.

LP

Another such incident that has passed into operatic folk lore now, is Callas's first performance in Italy after the scandal of her walking out half way through a performance of Norma, before the President of Italy, due to illness. It was at a revival of Anna Bolena at La Scala. Such was the bad feeling that the Italian press had whipped up against her, that La Scala, fearing an incident, had positioned plains clothes police all over the theatre, and riot police surrounded the theatre outside. Visconti re-directed some of the scenes so as to give Callas a certain amount of protection on stage in case of flying missiles from the audience. Throughout the first act the audience had reacted to her with icy coldness, loudly applauding her colleagues. By the finale of the First Act, Callas had had just about as much as she could stomach. This is the scene where Henry VIII finds her in compromising circumstances and tells the guards to take her to prison. Anna, utterly outraged, launches the exciting stretta to the finale with the words Giudice! Ad Anna! Giudice! (Judges! for Anna!). At this point, Callas pushed aside the guards, marched down to the footlights, and hurled the words into the audience, as much as to say "how dare you judge me", singing the rest of the scene with a scorching brilliance, incredible even for her. The audience were completely won over and from then to the end of the opera, she had them in the palm of her hands. Word of her success, apparently reached the crowds of people waiting outside the theatre, and, when she appeared at the stage door after the performance,the police found themselves having to restrain not an angry mob, but hordes of fans trying to besiege her with floral tributes. Unfortunately when she returned home that night, exhausted from her triumph, it was to find the gates of the Meneghini villa daubedwith dog excrement and the walls covered in insulting graffiti. And we wonder why her career was so short!
As an adjunct, it should be noted that Callas actually sued the Rome Opera for not having an understudy available on the night of that walk out, and for not fulfilling their subsequent contracyual obligations. The case dragged on for years, and eventually was settled totally in her favour. But it was too late. By then she was no longer singing, though the damage done to her personally and her career was immense and irrevocable.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 13, 2007, 05:43:01 AM
I can only imagine how her colleagues must have felt during that performance. How does talent react when confronted to genius? The objective fact is that her singing is not in cause, nor were her dramatic abilities befre that scene. But the sheer drama created by this unthinkable gesture was enough to instantly change the minds of over 2000 people. Compare Callas' reaction here to that of Alagna-Radames ::). Brava!

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 13, 2007, 11:19:32 AM
Very informed and thoughtful posts, TS!

One of the most fortunate turns in Callas' carreer is her meeting with Tullio Serafin. He transformed the chrysalis into a spectacular butterfly (not the Cio-Cio San variety, the one with real wings ;)).

Unfortunately, there were bad encounters too, and I count that with Walter Legge among those. I've never understood the legend that surrounded his name. Technically, most of those 1950-1957 recordings are plain dreadful compared to what was achieved by the Decca or Philips engineers at the time - not to mention his stubborn refusal to experiment with stereo until the late fifties. Add to that what TS wrote about the dubious choice of recorded repertoire and you get a tragic artistic and technical misrepresentation of Callas' art on records.


Do you think that Legge was accidentally on purpose favoring his own wife over Callas? After all, he seemed to be pretty astute in showing off his own dear Elizabeth in recordings. The Karajan recording of Butterfly was shocking to me in that the orchestra almost completely drowns her out at times, especially in the beginning when she first appears. I'm wondering if such doings went unnoticed by Meneghini and HIS wife.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 13, 2007, 12:19:56 PM
Do you think that Legge was accidentally on purpose favoring his own wife over Callas? After all, he seemed to be pretty astute in showing off his own dear Elizabeth in recordings. The Karajan recording of Butterfly was shocking to me in that the orchestra almost completely drowns her out at times, especially in the beginning when she first appears. I'm wondering if such doings went unnoticed by Meneghini and HIS wife.

ZB

To be honest, I don't. Both he and Schwarzkopf had tremendous admiration for her as an artist. It's just that Italian opera was not his milieu. His specialist area was German opera, and German vocal music. This was probably why there is some odd casting on many of the Callas sets. Why on earth we got the likes of Fernandi in Turandot and Ferraro in La Gioconda, is beyond me. Especially when you consider that Corelli was an EMI artist at that time. Sometimes some of these slightly odd decisions paid off, though others disagree. I actually think that Gedda makes a pretty plausible Pinkerton. He sounds like what his music is, a nice enough young man, who doesn't give enough thought to his situation. It makes his remorse in the last act all the more believable. On the subject of that Madama Butterfly, ZB, I can't say that I've noticed the orchestra drowning Callas out (I have the 1997 Callas Edition CDs). In fact the orchestra are nowhere near as prominent as they are in Karajan's later studio recordings, including the Butterflywith Freni and Pavarotti.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 15, 2007, 01:43:53 AM
Well, I have the LP so maybe there was some remastering for the CD. It's just that one can hardly hear Butterfly even after she arrives with her bridal entourage. Having her voice too much in the background is stretching realism too far.

Now, I would like to call attention back to Mike's pictures of Callas where her eyes and hands are very prominent. Callas was very aware of her hands and liked them more than her voice or figure. She remained a fat girl in a slim woman's body. Serafin made her self conscious about the timbre of her voice, not the suave, rolling sound they were used to in Italy, calling it "vocaccia". And I agree that if she were around today, she would not be more than a blip on the radar. It was the whole congruence of events that made her and the time in which it happened. All I can say is to be grateful for what we have.

Back to the expressive hands, this is really the kind of finish one would expect from a dancer. But Callas was a good pianist as well. There is a feedback from how one shapes one's hands. The feeling I believe goes both ways. Just doing that splayed back position in the first photo makes one FEEL tensed.  Try it.

She may have gotten some of this from Zeffirelli as well since Teresa Stratas spoke about how in rehearsal of Boheme, he impressed on her the importance of faint hands towards the end of the opera.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 15, 2007, 04:25:17 AM
Now, I would like to call attention back to Mike's pictures of Callas where her eyes and hands are very prominent. Callas was very aware of her hands and liked them more than her voice or figure. She remained a fat girl in a slim woman's body. Serafin made her self conscious about the timbre of her voice, not the suave, rolling sound they were used to in Italy, calling it "vocaccia". And I agree that if she were around today, she would not be more than a blip on the radar. It was the whole congruence of events that made her and the time in which it happened. All I can say is to be grateful for what we have.

Back to the expressive hands, this is really the kind of finish one would expect from a dancer. But Callas was a good pianist as well. There is a feedback from how one shapes one's hands. The feeling I believe goes both ways. Just doing that splayed back position in the first photo makes one FEEL tensed.  Try it.

She may have gotten some of this from Zeffirelli as well since Teresa Stratas spoke about how in rehearsal of Boheme, he impressed on her the importance of faint hands towards the end of the opera.

ZB

ZB, admittedly Zeffirelli may have had some influence on Callas, but, from a dramatic, as opposed to musical perspective, Visconti was the greater influence. While it was the prospect of working with Callas, that lured Visconti into the opera house, it was also Visconti who directed most of her greatest successes at La Scala, (La Vestale, La Sonnambula, La Traviata, Anna Bolena, Ipghigenie en Tauride). He was also to have directed her return to La Scala in Poliuto, but he fell out with government authorities over the censorship of one of his films and withdrew. There are some interesting rehearsal photographs of Visconti and Callas, where she can be seen to be exactly copying certain gestures and poses that he suggests to her. There are also stories about how exasperated Di Stefano became, during rehearsals for La Traviata, when Callas, Visconti and Giulini would discuss in the minutest detail, how certain parts of the opera should go. They would work long into the night, determined to take a completely fresh look at the opera. Di Stefano was totally unused to this way of working. He was just used to turning up, learning his entrances and exits and giving his usual peformance. In fact he was so disgruntled, that on the opening night, when the accolades rained down on Callas and Visconti, he walked out of the production vowing never to work with them again. He never did work with Visconti again, though he was back in the recording studio with Callas later that year.
Callas probably had as much influence on Zeffirelli as he on her. His one and only production at La Scala with her, was the 1955 Il Turco in Italia, her only really successful comic role. Thereafter he directed her in Dallas, in  1958 in La Traviata, and in 1959 in Lucia di Lammermoor, (this production was the Sutherland one borrowed from Covent Garden, in an exchange, which saw Callas take the Dallas Medea, directed by Alexis Minotis, to London). He later, in 1964, coaxed her out of retirement, and, most famously, directed her in her final Toscas in London and Paris, and the final Norma, also in Paris. This production, too, was to have come to London, but Callas's health failed her and she completely retired from the stage after one final Tosca at Covent Garden in July 1965.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: JoshLilly on May 15, 2007, 10:05:04 AM
I've always wondered how someone who never heard Maria Callas live, but only from recordings, could possibly tell whether they like her or not. The sound quality of everything I've ever heard is just intolerable. The only recording I could find of Cherubini's Medée was the Italian version (Medea) with Callas in the lead rôle. I've never gotten this thing off the shelf again. I can't give a fair opinion of Callas because the recording's quality is abysmal. I've heard other stuff that was about as bad, or even worse sometimes. So what gives? I've never been able to figure this out. I'm not being facetious, since I'm glad if people do like her, and I don't think they're making it up... but how can you get a real idea of what she truly sounded like from that stuff?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 15, 2007, 10:22:22 AM
I would have thought that what you are hearing is what we are hearing and you simply respond differently. The studio recordings from the late 50s and early 60s seem, according to those who did hear her, let you know in good sound what she was about. Some live recordings are a trial I am sure, but there is plenty around that seems to represent her well.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 15, 2007, 02:38:17 PM
There is also the question of learning to listen through the sound to the voice itself. This is particularly difficult with singers from the period before LP. I find I can do it with electrical recordings, but, with one or two exceptions, find it almost impossible with transfers from acoustic 78s. I am pleased I have been able to penetrate them though, as I would otherwise have ignored the work of many great singers, who never made it to the LP era.
Actually the same is true with old orchestral recordings. A friend of mine gave me a copy of Stokowski's 1936 recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. You would think that with a piece of such orchestral splendour, there would be no point even trying to listen to it. However, though in sonic terms, it cannot hope to compete with more recent recordings, I have been able to discover some marvellous music making, by somehow listening through and beyond the reproduced sound. I admit it requires a bit of work, but the rewards are worth it.
When it comes to the LP era, I confess that if the performance is great enough, I hardly notice the inferiority of the sound on some of these recordings, compared to their modern equivalents. Put another way, if I had to chose between the Callas/Da Sabata Tosca in old fashioned mono sound, and the Pappano/ Gheorghiu one in modern digital sound, the Callas set would still win hands down, as I find it a much more involving experience.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Michel on May 15, 2007, 02:46:39 PM
Was she when young considered attractive?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 15, 2007, 03:32:20 PM
Was she when young considered attractive?

Depends on which comentators you read, though it has been said that even in her fat days, she had a certain statuesque beauty, which is born out in some photographs.

(http://home.c2i.net/monsalvat/callas.jpg)

This is Callas as Kundry in 1949

(http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~san/callas43.jpg)

And here as Lady Macbeth in 1952.

Her weight did tend to go up and down, though she was always plump, until she dramtically reduced her weight from 1953 to 1954, after which she remained slim and svelte until she died.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on May 15, 2007, 07:35:08 PM
Quote from Callas....

"I was getting so heavy that even my vocalizing was getting heavy. I was tiring myself, I was perspiring too much, and I was really working too hard. And I wasn't really well, as in health; I couldn't move freely. And then I was tired of playing a game, for instance playing this beautiful young woman, and I was heavy and uncomfortable to move around. In any case, it was uncomfortable and I didn't like it. So I felt now if I'm going to do things right—I've studied all my life to put things right musically, so why don't I diet and put myself into a certain condition where I'm presentable."
During 1953 and early 1954, she lost almost 80 pounds

Sir Rudolf Bing, who remembered Callas as being "monstrously fat" in 1951, stated that after the weight loss, Callas was an "astonishing, svelte, striking woman" who "showed none of the signs one usually finds in a fat woman who has lost weight: she looked as though she had been born to that slender and graceful figure, and had always moved with that elegance

Here is an excellent article on her, it is not gush, it has a lot of technical discussion by musicians on what was individual about her and where her problems lay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Callas#Weight_loss


Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 16, 2007, 12:00:50 AM

Here is an excellent article on her, it is not gush, it has a lot of technical discussion by musicians on what was individual about her and where her problems lay.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Callas#Weight_loss


According to the above mentioned article, "Why Callas lost her voice prematurely" is still an ardent topic of debate. I heard some amazing stories over the years even from voice teachers (one in particular) who said that it was because she lost weight. He also held to the tapeworm theory. Wow!

Also there was a discussion of her allegedly shifting range. Maybe I can be of help, since I have a lyric soprano voice, worked with, taught, accompanied and screened singers for choirs over 30 years.

Why lyric sopranos cannot sing the "Queen of the Night" is because of the high leger line F out of their range. However, during Mozart's time this was probably an E, and accessible to the likes of us in staccato. Callas did not hold the high E in the "Bell Song" that she sang in Italian as a "lyric-coloratura". OK, one CAN stretch the definition seeing there was plenty of the latter in that particular recording.  The famous high Eb of Aida in Mexico City is the same optional flourish to the end of "Sempre Libera". And what a difference a half-tone makes!!

As to the other end of the range, "the chest voice", Callas' teachers were very astute in the use of it, since developing the lower ones really facilitate the resonance of the higher ones. There's no mystery in being able to reach a low F# below middle C, although notes past an A (as in "Deh, Vieni Non Tardar") are not usually in active use by a soprano. In fact most women can reach a D below middle C.

Now you can take or leave my theory, seeing it does contradict one of my own teachers, and this has to do with the theory of the registers. The chest voice in men's and women's voices should not be brought up past the passagio into the head voice. I wrote recently about Caballe who neither belted out the high C in "O Patria Mia" or the high Bb in "Pace, Pace", but was STILL very effective. Personal experience has borne this out and I will NEVER do it again (I promise).

So really weight has nothing to do with it, unless dieting brings on metabolic deficiencies. But keeping excess weight is not the solution either as Callas said it interfered with her breathing and movement.

ZB



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 12:53:53 AM
The chest voice in men's and women's voices should not be brought up past the passagio into the head voice.

I was amazed to see the number of theories as I've always heard only 2, usually mentioned together: too many too heavy roles + overusing the chest voice (though most people agree she did that to great effect - it ruined her voice nonetheless; still - many say it was worth it). The overuse of chest voice is mentioned in the first paragraph of that "Vocal Decline" section in the wikipedia article but someone should definitely expand that one sentence into at least another paragraph.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 01:00:30 AM
An afterthought:

Another thing that surprised me in that wikipedia article is that they don't seem to mention a slight loss of color that many detect in her voice after the slimming down. The only thing that is mentioned on wikipedia is an opinion that her color actually improved, which is the opposite to what I've heard (I have no opinion of my own, as I don't know her recordings well enough 0:)).

Maciek
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 16, 2007, 02:05:08 AM
Thanks for posting that link, Mike. What an interesting article it is.

I suppose the reason for the multifarious theories as to why her voice declined so rapidly, is testament to the fact that nobody really knows and nobody ever will. Both Renee Fleming and Deborah Voight (sopranos themselves) touch on similar theories, which is interesting. Personally, I have always felt, that it was not the actual weight loss, but the diet that  might have been the proble. Singers need an enormous amount of stamina to support their voices throughout an opera, and you only get stamina with proper nutrition, that is eating the right foods to give us energy, without piling on the pounds. In those days we knew less about nutrition and it is quite possible that Callas's diet deprived her of some of the necessary nutrients. That, and the punishing schedule she found herself following. A typical example is the summer of 1957. On July 4, she emabarked on two performances of La Sonnambula, in which she is in admirably secure voice, as can be heard on the recording preserved from the performances, and now available on EMI. 5 days late she is in Milan to record Turandot, a role that was no longer in her repertoire and which she really ought not to have been singing. That she acquits herself as well as she does, is cause for surprise, though she does show elements of strain. However 3 days after the Turandot sessions are over, she is back to record Manon Lescaut, and it is here that the effects of the previous days can be heard. She sounds utterly exhausted. Indeed some of the climactic high notes are as bad as they were to become in the mid 1960s, and this is probably why its release was delayed until 1959.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 16, 2007, 02:53:07 AM
I was amazed to see the number of theories as I've always heard only 2, usually mentioned together: too many too heavy roles + overusing the chest voice (though most people agree she did that to great effect - it ruined her voice nonetheless; still - many say it was worth it). The overuse of chest voice is mentioned in the first paragraph of that "Vocal Decline" section in the wikipedia article but someone should definitely expand that one sentence into at least another paragraph.

With all due respect, "overuse" of the chest voice is not a cause of vocal decline, although "abuse" might be. Sopranos don't get to sing too many notes below a D, so where does the idea of "overuse" come from? On the contrary, it's very relaxing to settle into the chest tones (not to push the breath, of course). Singers who save their voices for performances, mark an octave lower. The high notes are much more perilous territory than the lower ones. Yes, indeed, heavy roles, those that require sustained force and height, are the troublemakers except for the Jessye Normans and Birgit Nilssons.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 03:05:54 AM
Sorry, I should have made myself clearer: I meant using chest tones in very high areas usually reserved for head voice. Callas did that a lot.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Maciek on May 16, 2007, 03:07:47 AM
Or else I'm confusing terms - I'm not sure if I'm using correctly the English counterparts of the Polish terms... :-\ The general idea is that she extended registers beyond the standard.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 16, 2007, 03:20:07 AM
Was she when young considered attractive?

She should have, could have, been rightfully satisfied with her looks from childhood onwards but like many women were perversely persuaded by their environment that they are deficient and unworthy. (This aspect of popular culture bugs me to no end--maybe other women here can sympathize!!) Her slightly older sister Jackie was the star in the family. Both mother and older daughter conspired to make Maria into an ugly duckling.  This manufactured rivalry and jealousy colored and spilled out into her other relations. Her mother, if she didn't say it in so many words (but probably did, anyway) you're fat and unattractive, so the only thing you have is your voice. This was a prime reason why most of her emotional life went into her art.

Unfortunately after she slimmed down, it was too late to change the mental programming. She simply was never happy with herself. (And now I incriminate the whole mass media and popular culture that simply steals the joy of life and sows lifelong unnecessary unhappiness instead.)

ZB

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 16, 2007, 03:23:15 AM
Sorry, I should have made myself clearer: I meant using chest tones in very high areas usually reserved for head voice. Callas did that a lot.


Well, if you mean she extended the middle into the head voice, yes, she did and that was a possible cause of strain. But in the lower range, it simply is impossible to bring up the pure chest tones beyond a D (one note above middle C). There will always be a mix. She didn't do it, not even in Carmen.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 16, 2007, 05:40:01 AM
Very fascinating contributions all, and special thanks for the first hand insights into vocal production, ZB  :D. On that subject Leopold simoneau wrote a fascinating book in which he treats most vocal theories with some amusement. Considering the extreme rarity of his nonpareil tenorizing, I think he must have been on to something!

Re, Callas' appearance. I agree wholeheartedly with ZB considering the impact of mass culture on artists' perception of their bodies and the negative consequences it may have. Callas was not completely satisfied with her slimmed down looks. Her ankles (!!) remained fat (that portion of the skin does not shrink back) and she tried to hide them as much as she could. She was always extremely aware of perceived aesthetic shortcomings, an unending cause of stress and lack of self-assurance.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Michel on August 22, 2007, 11:56:09 AM
I have re-read this thread I have a few thoughts as a result of now having heard my first Callas recording: Serafin's 1953 Cavaleria Rusticana...

Can I say I have never been so powerfully moved by any one voice?

Honestly, this first listen is an experience like no other. Her voice has an intense power and fullness that I have never before heard. Equally stunning is her expression. And by this I mean that it is suprising that such a massive voice is also one that is so skillfully controlled unlike, for example, someone like Del Monaco. What I am also stunned and immensely pleased by is her lower register. As someone who often finds soprano's voices too ear pierching, I find this very satisfying. I makes her music-making sound sincere to me; she seemed to have a range that allowed her to do whatever she wanted, despite what conventional wisdom, previous performances and the roles dictated.

Let me not take too much credit away from Serafin's brilliant orchestra or the other vocal standouts on the recording, such as Di Stefano. And of course the brilliant music in the first place courtesy of Mascagni. But this recording has immediately become one of my most treasured, and has led me to immediately order Lucia di Lammermoor with Karajan, Gobbi and Di Stefano (what a cast!) and Tosca, again with Gobbi and Di Sefano.

Thanks also for the brilliant posts in this thread.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 23, 2007, 03:04:04 AM
I have re-read this thread I have a few thoughts as a result of now having heard my first Callas recording: Serafin's 1953 Cavaleria Rusticana...

Can I say I have never been so powerfully moved by any one voice?

Honestly, this first listen is an experience like no other. Her voice has an intense power and fullness that I have never before heard. Equally stunning is her expression. And by this I mean that it is suprising that such a massive voice is also one that is so skillfully controlled unlike, for example, someone like Del Monaco. What I am also stunned and immensely pleased by is her lower register. As someone who often finds soprano's voices too ear pierching, I find this very satisfying. I makes her music-making sound sincere to me; she seemed to have a range that allowed her to do whatever she wanted, despite what conventional wisdom, previous performances and the roles dictated.

Let me not take too much credit away from Serafin's brilliant orchestra or the other vocal standouts on the recording, such as Di Stefano. And of course the brilliant music in the first place courtesy of Mascagni. But this recording has immediately become one of my most treasured, and has led me to immediately order Lucia di Lammermoor with Karajan, Gobbi and Di Stefano (what a cast!) and Tosca, again with Gobbi and Di Sefano.

Thanks also for the brilliant posts in this thread.

Hi Michel,

As one of Callas's greatest admirers, may I first congratulate you on your discovery. Your reactions very much mirror my own when I first discovered her many years ago. Fortunately, your first experience is of Callas when her voice was at its absolute peak. The two recordings you have ordered also find her at her best, though the Karajan Lucia has Panerai and not Gobbi in the role of Enrico. Gobbi is on the Serafin recording. No matter, both performances find her in excellent voice.

I well remember my first discovery of Callas, and the excitement I felt listening to each of the new sets acquired. Be aware, however, that the voice did change quite a lot. Most of what she recorded in the 1950s is fine, but you will still hear quite a difference between, say, the Cavalleria Rusticana she recorded in 1953 and the Gioconda she recorded in 1959. After 1960, the voice gradually became more problematic and some of the later recordings from the mid 1960s can be quite hard to listen to. There are times I find the unsteadiness and the wobble too hard to take, and yet at other times I hardly notice it, so unerringly she finds the right mood and colour for what she is singing. Even when the voice was failing her, her musicianship was never in doubt. This is what really singles her out. She was first and foremost a musician and secondly a voice. With most singers the reverse is true.

Norma is an absolute must, as this was the role most associated with her, and the one she sang most often. EMI have 3 recordings in their catalogue. The first studio recording was made in 1954, and finds her in pretty secure voice, though the supporting cast is not as good as on the later 1960 studio recording. Nor is she so inside the role. EMI have also issued her Covent Garden debut in the role, from 1952, a live broadcast in so so sound. Again, she is in sovereign voice, but she did find more depth in the role later. IMO, the very best of all her Normas is a live performance, form La Scala in 1955. It is conducted by Antonino Votto and has Mario Del Monaco and Giulietta Simionato in the cast. It finds Callas on a night when her voice seems to be responding to her every whim. It's well worth seeking out. The best sound is probably to be found on the version at http://www.divinarecords.com/ (http://www.divinarecords.com/).

Also essential is Callas's Violetta. Unfortuantely, the only studio recording is a 1952 performance she recorded for the Cetra label, and is not really satisfactory. EMI have issued two live performances, the 1955 Giulini, an exciting memento of one of the most influential moments in operatic history and a later Lisbon performance with Alfredo Kraus. However I am hoping that the Royal Opera House, who have started releasing historic performances from their vaults, will get round to issuing the one she did at the house in 1958, with Cesare Valetti and Mario Zanasi, as it represents Callas's Violetta at its very best.

Happy listening.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 23, 2007, 01:53:46 PM
Michel, Like I said when you asked what the big deal is about this singer, we can write loads, but you have to hear her to understand what she is about. So, it is gratifying you have got the bug. There is a great Verdi disc of arias and it was in these recordings on LP I first heard her. No one singing the Lady Macbeth arias seems to come close to her delineation of the character. You can hear her think and that is much of the fascination to me.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 25, 2007, 04:37:50 AM
For anyone interested in this thread or anyone just getting the Callas bug, EMI have just released a 70 disc set of all Callas's studio recordings, including those she did for Cetra. HMV in Oxford Street are selling this for a ludicrously cheap £70, which works out at £1 per disc. It certainly cost me an awful lot more to collect all these sets!

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GrbMPn0GL._SS400_.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Michel on September 25, 2007, 12:20:50 PM
Christ almighty, that is a massive bargain!!!

Should I get it? Surely I should - thats ten minutes from here :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Que on September 25, 2007, 12:32:30 PM
For anyone interested in this thread or anyone just getting the Callas bug, EMI have just released a 70 disc set of all Callas's studio recordings, including those she did for Cetra. HMV in Oxford Street are selling this for a ludicrously cheap £70, which works out at £1 per disc. It certainly cost me an awful lot more to collect all these sets!

I guess no librettos?  :-\ (I hate that!  :()

Q
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 25, 2007, 12:39:42 PM
I guess no librettos?  :-\ (I hate that!  :()

Q

No, but there is a bonus CD-ROM with full libretti and translations.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Que on September 25, 2007, 06:38:09 PM
No, but there is a bonus CD-ROM with full libretti and translations.

Oh, but that's excellent. :)
Now, I'm even considering this box - I haven't really that much of complete operas with her.

Q
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Michel on September 26, 2007, 03:07:16 AM
I can't seem to find a list of everythin included on Amazon - can anyone help?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on September 26, 2007, 03:40:12 AM
I can't seem to find a list of everythin included on Amazon - can anyone help?

http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//5062432.htm (http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//5062432.htm)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Anne on September 26, 2007, 05:49:23 AM
http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//5062432.htm (http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//5062432.htm)

BTW the mdt web site that Wendell cited is excellent for ordering things difficult to find.  Last I heard it was a mom and pop business.  If they didn't have the item, they would search until they found the it.  They also sell easy-to-find cd's and DVD's like any other site.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Renfield on September 26, 2007, 06:04:00 AM
Oh, but that's excellent. :)
Now, I'm even considering this box - I haven't really that much of complete operas with her.

Q

I was in a similar spot, and I picked it up on my birthday (September 19th). Should take me a while to listen through it, though!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Que on September 26, 2007, 07:43:47 AM
I was in a similar spot, and I picked it up on my birthday (September 19th). Should take me a while to listen through it, though!

Renfield, how is the packaging - envelopes or cases?
I'm particularly interested if I can categorise the operas separately in my collection (on composer) and do away with the big cardboard box, or that I have to keep the lot together because of the packaging.

Q

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 26, 2007, 08:16:52 AM
Try looking here

http://www.callasonemiclassics.com/ (http://www.callasonemiclassics.com/)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Renfield on September 26, 2007, 12:29:29 PM
Renfield, how is the packaging - envelopes or cases?
I'm particularly interested if I can categorise the operas separately in my collection (on composer) and do away with the big cardboard box, or that I have to keep the lot together because of the packaging.

Q



Well, the box simply contains seventy envelopes with the CDs, and a booklet with the individual CD contents: #1-69 are used for the music, and #70 is the one with the libretti.

All in all a "neat" enough package, spartan yet complete. :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on September 26, 2007, 12:37:29 PM
If I did not have most of the Callas discs that I want, I would snap it up. What a bargain.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Hector on September 27, 2007, 05:41:03 AM
For anyone interested in this thread or anyone just getting the Callas bug, EMI have just released a 70 disc set of all Callas's studio recordings, including those she did for Cetra. HMV in Oxford Street are selling this for a ludicrously cheap £70, which works out at £1 per disc. It certainly cost me an awful lot more to collect all these sets!

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GrbMPn0GL._SS400_.jpg)

It weighs 8kg, take a wheelbarrow! ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on December 22, 2007, 01:51:05 PM
Can someone list the things that make Callas unique/controversial/special etc. etc

I can say the only thing that makes her unique is her divine musicianship. (if you know what I mean!)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: wagnernn on December 24, 2007, 03:56:13 AM
I always love Callas singing in these 2 mezzo roles;Carmen and Delilah.Beautiful low notes in the range of mezzo soprano,charmed and enchanted voice,wonderful acting...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 25, 2007, 01:32:49 PM
I can say the only thing that makes her unique is her divine musicianship. (if you know what I mean!)

I know exactly what you mean. It's hard, if not impossible, to explain it, but it is assuredly the reason she has been so highly admired by so many musicians from completely different spheres, Claudio Arrau and Victoria Mullova, to name but two.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: wagnernn on December 29, 2007, 04:59:06 AM
To Tsaraslondon:Why did Callas refuse to sing Queen of the night in The Magic flute?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 29, 2007, 05:44:59 AM
To Tsaraslondon:Why did Callas refuse to sing Queen of the night in The Magic flute?

I don't know for certain, but there were probably a combination of reasons. Firstly, the role lay (just) outside her natural compass, secondly, it isn't the leading role in the opera, and, thridly, she had never sung a role in German. Nor was Mozart really her fach, though I have no doubt that in her heyday, she would have made a fantastic Donna Anna. The only Mozart role she did sing on stage was Kostanze in Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, which she sang, in Italian, at La Scala, Milan. There are a couple of live recordings of her singing Martern aller Arten (in Italian), which suggest that she must have been a formidable Kostanze. The role does lie lower than the Queen of the Night, however.
I always think the problem with the Queen of the Night is that it really needs a voice the size of a Callas or a Sutherland, but the tessitura is so high that we are more likely to get a light soubrette, and consequently she rarely sounds as dangerous as she should.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: wagnernn on December 29, 2007, 04:10:34 PM
So,in her career,did she touch the F3 in any performance?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 29, 2007, 04:21:26 PM
So,in her career,did she touch the F3 in any performance?


As far as I know the highest note she sang in performance was E in alt, which she sings in both the Bell Song from Lakme (better in a live broadcast from 1952 than the studio performance of 1954) and Merce dilette amiche, from I Vespri Siciliani. It does sound like the very top of her voice though.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on December 29, 2007, 05:44:19 PM
Very few sopranos went past the E flat or E.  Beyond (F3), there seems to be a boundary which is impossible to cross. Edda Moser had the F (and G :o), but she didn't keep them for long: she went to sing heavier roles later in her carreer. The reverse journey seems to be a physical impossibility: sopranos with the altissimo notes in their youth always move downwards.

The only exceptions are few and far between, and furthermore, if they wanted their fame to endure and their carreer to last, they had to stay in the same territory: Berger, Lipp, Robin, Dessay. If you think of other great QoN like Popp, Moser, Gruberova and Deutekom, they all moved to heavier roles - very successfull overall but they were never avble to go back beyond that elusive high C...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: wagnernn on December 30, 2007, 06:44:39 PM
In her earlier Career,Callas sang E3 many times.So,did it damage her voice and cause the lack of the beauty of her voice in the late of her career?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 31, 2007, 02:44:46 AM
In her earlier Career,Callas sang E3 many times.So,did it damage her voice and cause the lack of the beauty of her voice in the late of her career?

Actually, no she didn't. As I've already stated, she sang it only in I Vespri Siciliani, which she sang 11 times in 1951 (4 performances in Florence and 7 in Milan), and a couple of times in Lakme's Bell Song. As to possible reasons and theories as to what caused the deterioration in her voice, I suggest you read the rest of this thread from the beginning.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 04, 2008, 06:41:31 PM
she would have made a fantastic Donna Anna.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 05, 2008, 05:13:39 AM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0

This was actually a test recording, not intended for release, and made just so the engineers could get the feel of the voice. However, even in such circumstances, Callas is incapable of sounding routine; futhermore she sails through the aria as if it was the easiest thing in the world. And it isn't.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 13, 2008, 11:45:43 AM
By coincidence I did a poll on the merit of Callas at my site and the response was 100% for the "wailing banshee" option.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 13, 2008, 11:53:22 AM
Yes, but you are pandering to very much a niche market. It was not the most beautiful of voices; but as with so much else; the weight of opinion is substantially against you.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on January 13, 2008, 03:16:55 PM
I'm slowly going through the mammoth 26-cd set of mostly live performances, with many du-tri-quadriplications. One can sample her Lucia, Norma and Violetta in at least 5 performances, whlie there are 3 or 4 Leonoras (Trovatore) and Aidas. Assorted radio concerts of showpieces and arias provide a fascinating foil, allowing to hear how Callas could inhabit a role through a single aria vs full stage presentation.  The lavishly presented booklet details each performance in fascinating detail.


For those interested, it seems to be still available at BRO:

   ' Maria Callas: A Diva's Glory Days'. (A chronological survey of her studio and live recordings, 1947-56. Includes 124-page book by Jurgen Kesting)
Add to cart | Price: $ 51.74 | 26 in set. | Country: GERMANY | D/A code: Mono | Code: 224097 | BRO Code: 135734 | Label: MEMBRAN INTERNATIONAL
Genre: Songs & Arias
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 14, 2008, 05:05:52 AM
By coincidence I did a poll on the merit of Callas at my site and the response was 100% for the "wailing banshee" option.

Well I guess canary fanciers, who listen to, as Beecham once put it, the noise that music makes, rather than the music itself, will never like her. However, this entire post, the fact that 30 years after her death, her records still outsell those of any other soprano, and the high esteem in which she is held by many great musicians from all walks of life, would suggest the vast majority of people would disagree. And, incidentally, even the most avid canary fancier, has to admit that the voice could be a thing of remarkable beauty in its early days. Those that accuse her of being a "wailing banshee", have probably only heard, though not listened to, recordings made in the late 1950s and 1960s
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Hector on January 14, 2008, 05:36:01 AM
Well I guess canary fanciers, who listen to, as Beecham once put it, the noise that music makes, rather than the music itself, will never like her. However, this entire post, the fact that 30 years after her death, her records still outsell those of any other soprano, and the high esteem in which she is held by many great musicians from all walks of life, would suggest the vast majority of people would disagree. And, incidentally, even the most avid canary fancier, has to admit that the voice could be a thing of remarkable beauty in its early days. Those that accuse her of being a "wailing banshee", have probably only heard, though not listened to, recordings made in the late 1950s and 1960s

Agreed, and they probably post those irritating reviews on the Amazon site!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 14, 2008, 02:19:56 PM
Yes, but you are pandering to very much a niche market. It was not the most beautiful of voices; but as with so much else; the weight of opinion is substantially against you.

Mike

What do you mean a 'niche market'? If you mean the niche to be that of good taste and discernment then I agree with you, for this is indeed a rare commodity in the CM world.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 14, 2008, 02:28:51 PM
By coincidence I did a poll on the merit of Callas at my site and the response was 100% for the "wailing banshee" option.

That scientifically proves that you and your friends there are 100% idiots. Anyone surprised?

What do you call that website, BTW? "The Completely Obnoxious Retarded Kids and Ignorants Newsgroup"?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 14, 2008, 02:29:33 PM
What do you mean a 'niche market'? If you mean the niche to be that of good taste and discernment then I agree with you, for this is indeed a rare commodity in the CM world.

No, that was not what I meant.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 14, 2008, 03:17:47 PM
That scientifically proves that you and your friends there are 100% idiots. Anyone surprised?

What do you call that website, BTW? "The Completely Obnoxious Retarded Kids and Ignorants Newsgroup"?

That's not very nice.  :'(
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 14, 2008, 03:32:51 PM
That scientifically proves that you and your friends there are 100% idiots. Anyone surprised?

What do you call that website, BTW? "The Completely Obnoxious Retarded Kids and Ignorants Newsgroup"?

Please M, don't do that. You know what you did? You put Rod in the right.

Quote
That's not very nice.

He was right.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 14, 2008, 05:35:41 PM
1960s

That was recorded in 1961 (at least I understood thus) but it is definitely divine! (http://operawebclub.com/papageno/style_emoticons/default/019.gif)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZjQkvxIQkJw
I wish she recorded the entire opera.  :(
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 14, 2008, 05:37:51 PM
Please M, don't do that. You know what you did? You put Rod in the right.

Mr Corkin is *always* right, no matter if I put him there or not.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on January 14, 2008, 07:31:58 PM
That was recorded in 1961 (at least I understood thus) but it is definitely divine! (http://operawebclub.com/papageno/style_emoticons/default/019.gif)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZjQkvxIQkJw
I wish she recorded the entire opera.  :(

It's a fantastic recording, but La Divina doesn't suggest the 15-year old Juliet. Nor did she ever suggest the 15-year  old Cio-Cio San. Right from the start, she always sounded 'mature'. But for those countless touches of verbal enchantment, she is still unsurpassed. Her coloratura is exciting and nimble, conducted on a beautiful fil di voce. The loud notes above the stave give her away, though. But still, she gives an object lesson in singing: words in music as an integrated whole.

On this Youtube thread one can hear a vocally perfect Juliette (Sills) where one can't make any of the words. I mean none, whatsoever. And to hear the French Nathalie Dessay clumsily sing her way through the aria with much less musical elegance or verbal understanding is just astounding - in the wrong way.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 14, 2008, 07:50:11 PM
And to hear the French Nathalie Dessay clumsily sing her way through the aria with much less musical elegance or verbal understanding is just astounding - in the wrong way.

And try Netrebko. I don't even understand what SHE suggests. In spite of noble dark timber and model complexion she has such a poor musicality, alas.  :(
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on January 14, 2008, 08:25:10 PM
It helps that the youtube vid has the words, one can at least appreciate Netrebko's efforts - she's definitely above average. I also listened to Battle, Devia, Swenson and a couple of others. There's no doubt - none at all - that Callas has it game, set and match in conveying the music's poetry and musical style. Who cares about that raw and uncontrolled top? ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 15, 2008, 03:23:38 AM
It's a fantastic recording, but La Divina doesn't suggest the 15-year old Juliet. Nor did she ever suggest the 15-year  old Cio-Cio San. Right from the start, she always sounded 'mature'. But for those countless touches of verbal enchantment, she is still unsurpassed. Her coloratura is exciting and nimble, conducted on a beautiful fil di voce. The loud notes above the stave give her away, though. But still, she gives an object lesson in singing: words in music as an integrated whole.

On this Youtube thread one can hear a vocally perfect Juliette (Sills) where one can't make any of the words. I mean none, whatsoever. And to hear the French Nathalie Dessay clumsily sing her way through the aria with much less musical elegance or verbal understanding is just astounding - in the wrong way.

I disagree about her Butterfly. She actually suggests the 15 year old far better than most, not so much in the lightening of the tone in the first act, which can sometimes sound a bit twee, but in the exchanges with Sharpless where she answers his questions in the straightforward, matter of fact manner that a child would do. In the love duet, she allows her voice to be slowly flooded with warmth, but it is only really in the very last aria, when left alone with her child, that she really lets out the full force of her voice. It is an incredibly detailed performance, which lifts the opera out of mere sentimentality and makes it into real tragedy.

However, I do agree that in Juliets' waltz song, recorded 5 years later, the voice doesn't sound for one moment like that of a 15 year old (nor for that matter does Gheorghiu in the complete recording with Alagna), but then a lighter voice would probably never be able to cope with the demands Gounod places on it later in the opera. I would single out for particular praise in Callas's performance, the complete change in vocal colour on the phrase Loin de l'hiver morose with its miraculous fades at the end of phrases. Admittedly, the top goes awry and there is an allarming flap on the final top note, but Callas's musical instincts never desert her.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 03:59:07 AM
Mr Corkin is *always* right, no matter if I put him there or not.

I'm always right because I stick to the matters I know I am right about.  ;D

But a soprano is only as good as the music she sings, and most of what she is famous for is irrelevant to me.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 15, 2008, 04:03:48 AM


But a soprano is only as good as the music she sings, and most of what she is famous for is irrelevant to me.

Then that is your loss
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 04:05:11 AM
Then that is your loss

No, it is her loss.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 15, 2008, 04:08:19 AM
No, it is her loss.

But if you are not interested in her, or the music she sings, why bother contributing to a topic about her in the first place.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 04:16:45 AM
But if you are not interested in her, or the music she sings, why bother contributing to a topic about her in the first place.

I mentioned that by coincidence I held a poll on the merit of Callas at my site and it was 100% negative. Forgive me but I thought it was relevant to this topic. In my original post I didn't even state my opinion on the matter.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 15, 2008, 04:21:23 AM
I mentioned that by coincidence I held a poll on the merit of Callas at my site and it was 100% negative. Forgive me but I thought it was relevant to this topic. In my original post I didn't even state my opinion on the matter.

But what is your site? And who entered this poll? I'd be interested to know as the weight of opinion, generally, seems to be totally in the other direction, as I already pointed out earlier on.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Que on January 15, 2008, 04:26:25 AM
I mentioned that by coincidence I held a poll on the merit of Callas at my site and it was 100% negative.

A 100% result makes any poll as relevant and credible as a Stalinist "election".

Q
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 04:35:52 AM
But what is your site? And who entered this poll? I'd be interested to know as the weight of opinion, generally, seems to be totally in the other direction, as I already pointed out earlier on.

See my profile for the link to my site (you've obviously got signatures switched off!). Not a big poll so far looking at it (7 responses!) but my site is quite new. Maybe it will change a bit over time, or maybe not.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 04:37:39 AM
A 100% result makes any poll as relevant and credible as a Stalinist "election".

Q

Not if it is a free and fair poll. Unlike the the games you have here where people have multiple votes if they participate more!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry on January 15, 2008, 04:45:38 AM
In her youth a lovely dame to see, but for my money I rather not her her sing.
But I heard several interviews with her, and found her voice to be quite lovely.
And she had in some respects a tragic life indeed.
Okay let me be a bit more positive, I heard a few smallish things from her, in which she is neither singing loud nor long, and vibrato at a minimum, and I thought, Hmmmmm quite nice, what if the voice was trained in a different way.....
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 04:47:22 AM
Okay let me be a bit more positive, I heard a few smallish things from her, in which she is neither singing loud nor long, and vibrato at a minimum, and I thought, Hmmmmm quite nice, what if the voice was trained in a different way.....

I think that is the essence of the matter Harry.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 04:47:49 AM
I'm always right because I stick to the matters I know I am right about.  ;D

But a soprano is only as good as the music she sings, and most of what she is famous for is irrelevant to me.

Speaking of which, haven't you noticed yet that whatever you say is pretty much completely irrelevant for everyone here? Haven't you noticed that everyone is just making fun of you? Seriously now, are you that dense that you haven't noticed yet that you are just fulfilling the role of village fool here?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 04:49:07 AM
I think that is the essence of the matter Harry.

I am not surprised you and Harry can agree on that. For both of you, music is just some nice background noise doodling around you. But you guys have to understand that for a lot of people, it can be much, much more than that.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry on January 15, 2008, 04:52:42 AM
I am not surprised you and Harry can agree on that. For both of you, music is just some nice background noise doodling around you. But you guys have to understand that for a lot of people, it can be much, much more than that.

I know for sure M, that you have hit the wrong nail.
You speak as a chicken without his head, utter nonsense.
Background indeed.
Go wash your mouth.... :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 04:54:36 AM
You speak as a chicken without his head, utter nonsense.

How would a chicken without a head speak? That doesn't make sense. Yes, you and Mr Corkin do indeed inhabit the same sphere, it appears.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry on January 15, 2008, 05:06:17 AM
Speaking of which, haven't you noticed yet that whatever you say is pretty much completely irrelevant for everyone here? Haven't you noticed that everyone is just making fun of you? Seriously now, are you that dense that you haven't noticed yet that you are just fulfilling the role of village fool here?

Nobody, not even you dear friend is playing a village fool.
You may not agree with Rod, that is quite okay, and good for a lively discussion, but it is not fair to call someone names, just because you don't like him.
The chicken without a head remark is a common saying in the Netherlands.
I thought that you must know that. :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 05:53:04 AM
I am not surprised you and Harry can agree on that. For both of you, music is just some nice background noise doodling around you. But you guys have to understand that for a lot of people, it can be much, much more than that.

It is the people without any discernment or critical faculties that view Classical Music as background noise, and that ain't me. Beethoven and Handel make for the worst background music!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 15, 2008, 07:22:58 AM
See my profile for the link to my site (you've obviously got signatures switched off!). Not a big poll so far looking at it (7 responses!) but my site is quite new. Maybe it will change a bit over time, or maybe not.


Well I'd hardly call a poll of 7 people representative.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 08:42:17 AM

Well I'd hardly call a poll of 7 people representative.

But it is a free poll, available for all to see. I can only assume the remaining 100+ members have no opinion either way at this stage. Maybe they haven't even heard her sing.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 15, 2008, 10:16:59 AM
But it is a free poll, available for all to see. I can only assume the remaining 100+ members have no opinion either way at this stage. Maybe they haven't even heard her sing.

I don't care how free it is, a poll of 7 people can never be called representative. It'd be like finding 7 people who agreed with the Iraq war, and stating that "in a recent poll, it was discovered that 100% of people agreed with the war". For heaven's sake, it's laughable!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 10:33:44 AM
It is the people without any discernment or critical faculties that view Classical Music as background noise, and that ain't me.

Sure, that is you. Becuae you have neither "discernment" nor "critical faculties". If you did, you could support your opinions with actual arguments. That would be the basis for an actual discussion.

Nobody, not even you dear friend is playing a village fool.
You may not agree with Rod, that is quite okay, and good for a lively discussion, but it is not fair to call someone names, just because you don't like him.

I thought we weren't friends? In any case, I don't either like or dislike him. I dislike that he *destrys*  every discussion. We had a very lively and actual discussion going on in some threads until he showed up. He doesn't have anything to say about musical subjects. The "discussions" are all about himself.

An actual discussion is when people exchange views and arguments and talk about a subject, investigate it together and enrichen each other's understanding of the subject, not when all they talk about is how they can decide what is "the best" and "the greatest" and what is not. And then call everyone else collectively "fascists" like Mr Corkin did. That is a very deep insult, way beyond any personal insult or disagreement.

The chicken without a head remark is a common saying in the Netherlands.
I thought that you must know that. :)

In German, people say someone runs around like a decapitated chicken when he/she panicks and does things without thinking. But you can't say someone *talks* like a decapitated chicken, because apart from the fact that chicken can't talk (but we can overlook that for the sake of poetic license), if they could, the head would do the talking. But the head is missing.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 15, 2008, 12:46:09 PM
It helps that the youtube vid has the words, one can at least appreciate Netrebko's efforts - she's definitely above average. I also listened to Battle, Devia, Swenson and a couple of others. There's no doubt - none at all - that Callas has it game, set and match in conveying the music's poetry and musical style. Who cares about that raw and uncontrolled top? ;D

Netrebko might be, but do not forget that youtube is popular to everyone who posseses an access to the Internet, so everyone can say everything he wants, as Mr.Corkin does. Better not to touch it.
I just simply want to say that this was an obvious example of Callas's uniqueness, supremacy - to make even a little french aria sound so unforgettable and charming. I can say that I'm not a fan of french opera and just was fiddling about youtube, after watching Netrebko's glamorous Donna Anna with walking trees, and suddenly I came upon Callas and...then the whole evening spent in listening to that little single track. maybe she does not sing it so lightly and nimble as Sills (whom I like too), and not so french, but the matter is what she has behind it, the unique conception. And she does have something, that made a lot of people become her wildest fans even now, made others to be envious and outrageous about her...but that's an irresistable fact of a Wonder, that's called Callas. I wonder if the humans would ever produce something being comparable to it. Music is alive, and Callas just didn't sing, she lived in there, a squared combination (sorry I'm just from my calculus class, couldn't resist it) raised in power. It can sound a little arrogant or too smart being really stupid, but that's the way I feel about it. She's not the only one, though, but for me she's always aside from the others.  :)

That is an elementary politeness not to tell such things in a thread dedicated to Callas. Not only Callas, but whoever it's devoted to.  :-\
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 02:29:22 PM
I don't care how free it is, a poll of 7 people can never be called representative. It'd be like finding 7 people who agreed with the Iraq war, and stating that "in a recent poll, it was discovered that 100% of people agreed with the war". For heaven's sake, it's laughable!

I made no claim that my poll was anything special, I just mentioned by coincidence the poll existed and the result was not in Callas's favour so far. Following this announcement the Mafia here deduced those who voted must be lacking in some way mentally and that this was a reflection of the poor value of the site. A typical GMG response basically, something which always amuses me.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 02:34:40 PM
There could be no bigger contrast than between the two posts immediately above - between Sarastro's nicely written and personal contribution and Mr Corkin verbally puking in the thread again and calling everyone collectively the "Mafia".
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 15, 2008, 02:42:01 PM
I made no claim that my poll was anything special, I just mentioned by coincidence the poll existed and the result was not in Callas's favour so far. Following this announcement the Mafia here deduced those who voted must be lacking in some way mentally and that this was a reflection of the poor value of the site. A typical GMG response basically, something which always amuses me.

I am going to call you on this. Exactly one person made reference to the people on your site as lacking in some way mentally. But your paranoia inflates that into a Mafia. If there was a Mafia here, you would long since have been extinguished, but as there is not, we allow you to burble away. However, get it right would you. It is either that you are incapable of reading, are intellectually dishonest or paranoid when you make these remarks. You choose which and I will accept whichever explanation you decide upon.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 02:44:07 PM
There could be no bigger contrast than between the two posts immediately above - between Sarastro's nicely written and personal contribution and Mr Corkin verbally puking in the thread again and calling everyone collectively the "Mafia".

You are using fascistic methods here M, when have I said 'everyone collectively' is the Mafia? Not once. No, it is clear who the Mafia here are, not a great number but enough to control what is allowed to be said here and what is not. You make me laugh M.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 02:47:14 PM
I am going to call you on this. Exactly one person made reference to the people on your site as lacking in some way mentally. But your paranoia inflates that into a Mafia. If there was a Mafia here, you would long since have been extinguished, but as there is not, we allow you to burble away. However, get it right would you. It is either that you are incapable of reading, are intellectually dishonest or paranoid when you make these remarks. You choose which and I will accept whichever explanation you decide upon.

Mike

Do don't seem to be reading all the posts in this topic knight. I suggest you go back to my original posts an read everything everyone has written since then.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 15, 2008, 02:48:28 PM
You are using fascistic methods here M, when have I said 'everyone collectively' is the Mafia? Not once. No, it is clear who the Mafia here are, not a great number but enough to control what is allowed to be said here and what is not. You make me laugh M.

Again; utter nonsense, if there was such control, your insulting verbiage would be removed, but in fact, it will be left intact, but not unchallanged. Also, when someone did suggest the people on your site were deficient, I asked him not to make such remarks.

Now back to Callas.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 15, 2008, 02:49:28 PM
Do don't seem to be reading all the posts in this topic knight. I suggest you go back to my original posts an read everything everyone has written since then.

That was EXACTLY what I did from the point you posted referring to your poll.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Rod Corkin on January 15, 2008, 02:52:13 PM
That was EXACTLY what I did from the point you posted referring to your poll.

Mike

I only referred to the Mafia's reaction Knight, not everyone's. M Forever is one of the Mafia here.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 15, 2008, 02:53:54 PM
Sarastro, I listened to the Callas track and I was not all that happy with it. She sounds effortful to me. I then tried Sills, but it refused to load. So, next was Sumi Jo. She has the equipment and it sounds comparatively easy; but the intimacy was missing, the touches indicating a real character were absent. So I listened again to Callas and there it was, despite the effort, or perhaps because of it; she had to work so hard as the voice was clearly not behaving. But she centres on what is happening in the music rather than skating over it. She was incapable of dullness.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 15, 2008, 03:01:58 PM
I only referred to the Mafia's reaction Knight, not everyone's. M Forever is one of the Mafia here.

M represents no one but himself. He would certainly also claim that. He hunts alone and is not detailed by anyone to be a hit-man.

Of course amongst a body of people there will be some who agree with one another. But that does not a Mafia make. You have not been suppressed, you have been challenged and sometimes treated roughly.

But then, you know, and not just here, what kind of reactions you will attract to your unusual views.

I hope your advocacy of Handel will not turn people against him as has happened with Elgar here. I will be very aggrieved. In one post today you claimed that should anyone have a bash at Handel, no one would react.....WRONG. But you ignore the post and posters who have a history of posting how much they love Handel, it does not suit your agenda, you have to be the only Handel Lover in the Village.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 03:02:40 PM
I only referred to the Mafia's reaction Knight, not everyone's. M Forever is one of the Mafia here.

What Mafia? The Callas Mafia? I don't have a single recording of hers, I think. Not because I don't want to. It's just an area of music that I haven't collected much of yet.

If I am part of the Mafia, I want you to call me "Don Michele" from now on and kiss my hand.

I am just wondering, how can I be part of a Mafia when most people here disagree with me most of the time? (Or actually, it might be that I am disagreeing with most of the people here most of the time.)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: M forever on January 15, 2008, 03:10:05 PM
I hope your advocacy of Handel will not turn people against him as has happened with Elgar here. I will be very aggrieved. In one post today you claimed that should anyone have a bash at Handel, no one would react.....WRONG. But you ignore the post and posters who have a history of posting how much they love Handel, it does not suit your agenda, you have to be the only Handel Lover in the Village.

Same here. I actually can't listen to Elgar's music anymore since that 71dB guy showed up here. Not that I ever listened much to Elgar to begin with, he is after all not such a very relevant composer, but I kind of liked to listen to some of his late Imperialist kitsch once in a while. Not any more. It just automatically triggers the association with our multidimensionally vibrating friend here.

Funny really to what lengths some people go to fake having an individual and unusual opinion. But it shouldn't take that much effort to be "individualistic" or "freethinking" - all you need to do is just be like me  ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 15, 2008, 06:29:08 PM
That was too pathetic. In short, Callas sings music. Of course you may say everybody does...but Callas could get to the highest point of that divinity in music.
I remember Tchaikovskiy said about Mozart: "He was the highest peak that beauty has ever reached in music." So, I would like to apply this to Callas too, the idea. May I?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 15, 2008, 06:56:13 PM
Sarastro, I listened to the Callas track and I was not all that happy with it. She sounds effortful to me. I then tried Sills, but it refused to load. So, next was Sumi Jo. She has the equipment and it sounds comparatively easy; but the intimacy was missing, the touches indicating a real character were absent. So I listened again to Callas and there it was, despite the effort, or perhaps because of it; she had to work so hard as the voice was clearly not behaving. But she centres on what is happening in the music rather than skating over it. She was incapable of dullness.

Mike

That's the point...there is a huge difference between voices' beauty and what their masters could do with them. And it is also a reason for arguments.
Again I cite, Mascagni, said: "If you want to be a singer you also need a voice."  0:)
For me it doesn't matter if a singer or any other interpreter has a conception that is not the same as mine, but he(she) must have a conception, his own - understanding what he does. Then I can say - here is a musician. (Of course it's pleasant when that conception fits my own requirements).
But...reading three Russian opera forums (one is also a grand general classical music forum) for more than a year I've seen a lot of discussions of that sort...and almost all the time such newbies came upon the topic saying nonsense and annoying others. But it seems to me that it's just a lack of listener's experience. And of intelligence, respect too. But sometimes it might be trolls.  >:D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on January 15, 2008, 08:20:04 PM
I feel privileged to hear Callas sing in French (as the Italians should be of her italian singing). The verbal awareness is just astounding. For some reason she is no great shakes as a diseuse in Carmen (the only full opera she ever sang in French), but when singing arias, she has the whole package: emission, diction, pronunciation of the difficult semi-vowels (diphthongs in English) and some consonants (the French 'r' defeats most non francophones). She is actually much easier to understand than Régine Crespin, and yet never sounds affected (Schwarzkopf-like). In years to come it may well come down to Callas à Paris being remembered as one of her most brilliant realizations (with a Norma, Medea or Lucia or two). To hear her in D'amour l'ardente flamme is to experience this mad scene like you've never heard it. Her Gluck is also unexcelled (though admittedly the high tessitura makes for a vocally bumpy road).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 15, 2008, 11:01:27 PM
D'amour l'ardente flamme: yes, once again, she finds nuance and so clearly understands what she is singing about. She also prevents it from sounding epic. Another favourite track of mine.

I did not know there was any problem with her Carmen. I don't have it, but have heard it. I enjoyed it up to a point. It was so long ago, I have no idea why I did not take to it.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 16, 2008, 02:07:32 AM

I did not know there was any problem with her Carmen. I don't have it, but have heard it. I enjoyed it up to a point. It was so long ago, I have no idea why I did not take to it.

Mike

Her Carmen seems to be one of those creations that people either like or loathe. Admittedly, it's probably closer to Merimee than Bizet. She certainly lacks the charm of a De Los Angeles or a Berganza, but she is sexy and alluring; dangereuse et belle, as Micaela describes her. No spoken dialogue of course (we are back in the bad old days of the Guiraud recitatives), the recording nevertheless has a peculiarly authentic feel, with a French conductor, orchestra and chorus. Apart from Gedda as Jose, who was, anyway, the best French tenor around for some time, the rest of the cast is also French, with a particularly good Micaela from Andrea Guiot. Callas may sound a little exotic in these surroundings, but that is no bad thing for a Carmen.

As RO put it in Gramophone, on its first CD release,

 "[Callas's] Carmen is one of those rare experiences like Piaf singing La Vie En Rose or Dietrich in The Blue Angel which is inimitable, unforgettable, and on no account to be missed."


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 16, 2008, 02:50:43 AM
Thanks for that; I am thinking I will take the first opportunity to listen to it again.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 16, 2008, 11:38:39 AM
No, it is her loss.

Let me cite again then.
In 1977, I guees, Mona Lisa was brought to Moscow and exhibited on the street (something like, i don't know the details) so there was an endless quee to see that masterpiece. Among others there came a great Russian actress Faina Ranevskaya. A man, who stood before her was staring at Mona Lisa for a while and then announced that the painting didn't impress him, in such a scornful tone. So Ranevskaya replied - "mona Lisa has already impressed so many people that she can choose whom to impress!"  8) Nice statement, I hope I've translated it right. So, I would like again to apply it here.
Weird thing, I can't really understand Mr.Corkin, is that a new entertainment to come and challenge Callas? You may have an opposite point of view, but your casual tone switched the priority and it really sounded bad. I wonder what will happen if you come to mosque and say something...like "shaitan akbar!" (long live Satan!). You just provoked the attitude.  :-\
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Morigan on January 16, 2008, 11:48:41 AM
I would like to invite all fans of Callas to listen to this free podcast from the "Times Classical podcasts" series.

It's a rare radio interview with La Divina, recorded a few years before her death in her Paris apartment.

http://podcast.timesonline.co.uk/serve.php/641/mariacallas.mp3 (http://podcast.timesonline.co.uk/serve.php/641/mariacallas.mp3)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 16, 2008, 11:52:33 AM
Rod has been doing a 'special' course on how to win friends and influence people. I liked the Mona Lisa story.

If art acts as a lamp and a mirror to the world; then Callas was one of those who was able to teach us about the human condition. Some of it may have been borne out of her own insecurities and state of mind; but the results of all great artists are always partly mined from within. That is the difference, there have been many great voices, lots of great singers; not so many great artists as singers. Callas stands at the top of the pile with a few others who 'speak' directly to us about life.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 16, 2008, 11:55:10 AM
Rod has been doing a 'special' course on how to win friends and influence people.

But he didn't smile, did he?  ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on January 16, 2008, 11:59:43 AM
I would like to invite all fans of Callas to listen to this free podcast from the "Times Classical podcasts" series.

It's a rare radio interview with La Divina, recorded a few years before her death in her Paris apartment.

http://podcast.timesonline.co.uk/serve.php/641/mariacallas.mp3 (http://podcast.timesonline.co.uk/serve.php/641/mariacallas.mp3)

BTW youtube suggests to see some clips from the concert in Paris, the last one I guess?
"A lame immortal has still more power than you can imagine", although the voice is totally broken, she could do impressive things that some people do not learn during the entire life.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 16, 2008, 01:24:33 PM
This youtube clip is a prime example of how Callas was able to inhabit the very soul of a character even without the aid of costume and sets. She is elegantly dressed, svelte and soignee, but, suddenly before our eyes, she becomes the sweet, innocent, wronged and heartbroken Amina - and note that she hardly moves a muscle. This was taped in May 1965, only a few months before her final stage performances, and the tone is often frail and threadbare, and yet how expressive is her singing, how refined her legato and how exquisite the way she shapes the long phrases. I find it almost unbearably moving.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xuY43qEyiQw (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xuY43qEyiQw)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on January 16, 2008, 02:52:04 PM
Very touching; as though she was seeing things that we could not see. She was inhabiting a different place.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on January 16, 2008, 06:28:56 PM
In a sense this is a miraculous performance. Thanks, I didn't know it. Callas resorts to Caballé-like ethereal pianissimos in the high mid-range. The aria's tessitura is not very high, but a lot depends on an absolutely steady, pure tone between, say, D and G. At that stage Callas couldn't muster any kind of volume without losing control of her vibrato. I was amazed to hear how pure the tone remains and how she uses new means to convey the emotional / mental fragility of Amina. Absolutely brilliant.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Peregrine on January 26, 2008, 09:45:14 PM
Has anyone ordered from Divina records?

http://www.divinarecords.com/

They seem very much for the Callas specialist and with prices to boot (in comparison to your EMI's and Naxos etc.), but if I'm going to acquire classic Callas recordings, then I'ld like to think I'm purchasing the finest transfers available.

Thinking of ordering the '55 La Scala Norma first...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 27, 2008, 04:53:01 AM
Has anyone ordered from Divina records?

http://www.divinarecords.com/

They seem very much for the Callas specialist and with prices to boot (in comparison to your EMI's and Naxos etc.), but if I'm going to acquire classic Callas recordings, then I'ld like to think I'm purchasing the finest transfers available.

Thinking of ordering the '55 La Scala Norma first...

I haven't yet, but this Scala Norma is definitely the one to have. It captures Callas when her voice seems to be responding to her every whim. I've compared the sound clips with the one I have (which was on Arkadia) and it does indeed sound cleaner, good though the Arkadia is (and much better than most transfers). I must say I'm very tempted to buy the Divina Records one. One thing is for certain no lover of Callas or bel canto opera should be without this set. I doubt there will ever be another Norma to match it, not in our life time anyway.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Peregrine on January 27, 2008, 05:11:14 AM
I kind of hoped you'ld reply... ;)

There's some good articles on the Divina website regarding transfers, one in particular by Dr Robert Seletsky (Who he  ???), states that:

  'The work of Divina Records is consistently without peer, the finest presentation of Callas material on CD.  Divina has discovered new sources and performances, remastered them with a level of care unknown in the CD era, and produced results of overwhelming beauty and excellence'

You'll find the whole review in the articles section, second down in that list, titled 'A Callas recording update'. I'm not surprised that EMI don't seem to have got it right with their transfers, but was surprised that the (usual) excellence of engineer, Mark Obert-Thorn on Naxos isn't that well regarded either.

Anyhow, I think I'll be ordering that Norma, pretty soon.

Oh, and thanks BTW - after viewing your list on Amazon, I bought a great 3CD Callas set on EMI. Ta!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: longears on January 27, 2008, 05:18:07 AM
This youtube clip is a prime example of how Callas was able to inhabit the very soul of a character even without the aid of costume and sets. She is elegantly dressed, svelte and soignee, but, suddenly before our eyes, she becomes the sweet, innocent, wronged and heartbroken Amina - and note that she hardly moves a muscle. This was taped in May 1965, only a few months before her final stage performances, and the tone is often frail and threadbare, and yet how expressive is her singing, how refined her legato and how exquisite the way she shapes the long phrases. I find it almost unbearably moving.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xuY43qEyiQw (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=xuY43qEyiQw)
Thank you for posting this link.  Spellbinding. 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on January 27, 2008, 11:19:15 AM
Let me cite again then.
In 1977, I guees, Mona Lisa was brought to Moscow and exhibited on the street (something like, i don't know the details) so there was an endless quee to see that masterpiece. Among others there came a great Russian actress Faina Ranevskaya. A man, who stood before her was staring at Mona Lisa for a while and then announced that the painting didn't impress him, in such a scornful tone. So Ranevskaya replied - "mona Lisa has already impressed so many people that she can choose whom to impress!"  8) Nice statement, I hope I've translated it right. So, I would like again to apply it here.
Weird thing, I can't really understand Mr.Corkin, is that a new entertainment to come and challenge Callas? You may have an opposite point of view, but your casual tone switched the priority and it really sounded bad. I wonder what will happen if you come to mosque and say something...like "shaitan akbar!" (long live Satan!). You just provoked the attitude.  :-\

I like the story of the Mona Lisa but why would someone say "satan is bigger (or greater)"? Except if one is comparing big and little satans of which I won't go into a discussion here.

The Callas Carmen gives the impression of being very Frenchy, I don't know to what extent Spanish though, in particular the part of the tringles des sistres in the gypsy camp. And her vowels there are more lu, lu, than la, la. But no matter. Bizet's music gave the impression of Spain without perhaps one authentic Spanish musical form. The Habanera of course is originally Cuban and his version of the Seguidilla is nowhere near the usual accepted Flamenco version. The difference between Spanish and French music was clearly shown in the Gades film on Carmen where the dancers could not really dance to the music of Bizet. But no matter.

It is the IMPRESSION that seems to work in opera, not realism. And it is quite amazing that this music evokes Seville, following the successes of other operas that took place in the same city, the Barber of Rossini and the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 28, 2008, 08:43:40 AM
Has anyone ordered from Divina records?

http://www.divinarecords.com/

They seem very much for the Callas specialist and with prices to boot (in comparison to your EMI's and Naxos etc.), but if I'm going to acquire classic Callas recordings, then I'ld like to think I'm purchasing the finest transfers available.

Thinking of ordering the '55 La Scala Norma first...

I've just ordered the '55 La Scala Norma from Divina records, so will report back, when it arrives. I'm in the UK, and they are based in the US, so it make take a while. As Callas's greatest Norma, and possibly the greatest Norma ever given, I felt it my duty to own it in the best pressing available.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on January 28, 2008, 11:06:45 PM

http://podcast.timesonline.co.uk/serve.php/641/mariacallas.mp3 (http://podcast.timesonline.co.uk/serve.php/641/mariacallas.mp3)

That she can continue to teach us from the beyond is awe inspiring. Listening to this recording reminded me of Leonard Bernstein's still believable personability in his films about music as though he were speaking in real time. This recording had the same realness about it when she spoke about her childhood (looking at the ice cream cones) or about how much she was an observer of life and onstage, or making a mental account of what she did that day, the decline of bel canto, etc. Her comment about using her hands as an extension of the soul taken from one of her stage director's, was one of the many influences she internalized and made her own.

I'm not so sure that doing heavy roles is good for teenage singers (or even if it were ultimately good for her as well). As someone said about George Gershwin's untimely death, "I don't have to believe it if I don't want to".

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Peregrine on February 08, 2008, 10:47:09 AM
I've just ordered the '55 La Scala Norma from Divina records, so will report back, when it arrives. I'm in the UK, and they are based in the US, so it make take a while. As Callas's greatest Norma, and possibly the greatest Norma ever given, I felt it my duty to own it in the best pressing available.



Hurrah! Mine has  arrived, really looking forward to listening over the weekend.  :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 08, 2008, 03:05:44 PM
Hurrah! Mine has  arrived, really looking forward to listening over the weekend.  :)


Still waiting for mine  :(
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on February 08, 2008, 03:25:50 PM
There's hope, then!  ;)

Joke aside, please report about the sound quality when you guys have heard it !!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on February 08, 2008, 06:41:47 PM
Joke aside, please report about the sound quality when you guys have heard it !!

I have a copy of this recording from one del Monaco fan, and must assume that sound quality is good. And singing is excellent. :D I highly recommend!

By the way, I've got a couple Callas's recordings of Donna Anna's "Non mi dir", also "Or sai chi l'onore', and Donna Elvira's "Mi tradi". I can't really say this is Anna of my dreams, but not bad.
Mozart's great music doesn't allow to swing and flow the voice, imho.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 09, 2008, 01:57:03 AM
I have a copy of this recording from one del Monaco fan, and must assume that sound quality is good. And singing is excellent. :D I highly recommend!

By the way, I've got a couple Callas's recordings of Donna Anna's "Non mi dir", also "Or sai chi l'onore', and Donna Elvira's "Mi tradi". I can't really say this is Anna of my dreams, but not bad.
Mozart's great music doesn't allow to swing and flow the voice, imho.

The Mozart she recorded in 1963 is from when her voice was well past her best, and she no longer has the firmness required for this music. And, surprisingly for her, interpretative insights are few, though she tears into the recitative of "Mi tradi", with real conviction. However, when she made a test recording of "Non mi dir" for EMI in 1953 (unfortunately shorn of its recitative) she sings with absolute security and sails through the aria as if it is the easiest thing in the world. It was, as I said, a test recording, pure and simple, not meant for a release, and made so that the engineers could get a feel for the voice. It is nonetheless a wonderfully assured performance. Phrasing is spacious and she harldy seems to breathe at all. Remarkable is the way she phrases though and into the second statement of "non mi dir", as is the long breathed rallentando before she embarks on the alegretto, which she sings with an ease and accuracy not available to many Annas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on February 09, 2008, 02:10:15 AM
Translondon, Thanks for the link, it is really beautiful. I have not heard this track before. It seems odd to me that test tracks emerge, where the orchestral parts have to be obtained, the orchestra presumably rehearse; yet it is not then a piece that is formally recorded....furthermore, it is off the normal repertoire for the singer.

Especially odd when the result is so delightful.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on February 09, 2008, 08:14:40 AM
The Mozart she recorded in 1963 is from when her voice was well past her best, and she no longer has the firmness required for this music. And, surprisingly for her, interpretative insights are few, though she tears into the recitative of "Mi tradi", with real conviction. However, when she made a test recording of "Non mi dir" for EMI in 1953 (unfortunately shorn of its recitative) she sings with absolute security and sails through the aria as if it is the easiest thing in the world. It was, as I said, a test recording, pure and simple, not meant for a release, and made so that the engineers could get a feel for the voice. It is nonetheless a wonderfully assured performance. Phrasing is spacious and she harldy seems to breathe at all. Remarkable is the way she phrases though and into the second statement of "non mi dir", as is the long breathed rallentando before she embarks on the alegretto, which she sings with an ease and accuracy not available to many Annas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0



It is indeed everything you say it is, but I don't think it's a real Anna sound. I've known it for a long time and came back to it every now and then without ever being convinced. Callas' was a big voice, and no amount of fining down could disguise the sheer size of her sound. Here she sounds like treading carefully to avoid sounding like Norma. When she goes into those high-lying fortes I have the feeling of a powerful beast trying to get out of its cage. I'm making this sound rather bad, but it's not. It's still an extraordinary interpretation, both vocally and artistically. But I think the Mozart ladies have a different kind of vocal makeup.

Here's a good example of the kind of sound I associate with Anna: it's a youtube vid of
Teresa Stich-Randall (http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=A6yItLe2zx0&feature=related) in the same aria. She shows only half (if that) of Callas' dramatic instincts, but the compact, silvery, penetrating tone is a good example of what I have in mind. On the same page there's Elizabeth Grümmer singing Non mi dir (in German). Hers is an 'in between' kind of voice. Bigger and more 'operatic' than Stich-Randall's, but powerful and hugely convincing as a total package.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 09, 2008, 12:52:51 PM
It is indeed everything you say it is, but I don't think it's a real Anna sound. I've known it for a long time and came back to it every now and then without ever being convinced. Callas' was a big voice, and no amount of fining down could disguise the sheer size of her sound. Here she sounds like treading carefully to avoid sounding like Norma. When she goes into those high-lying fortes I have the feeling of a powerful beast trying to get out of its cage. I'm making this sound rather bad, but it's not. It's still an extraordinary interpretation, both vocally and artistically. But I think the Mozart ladies have a different kind of vocal makeup.

Here's a good example of the kind of sound I associate with Anna: it's a youtube vid of
Teresa Stich-Randall (http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=A6yItLe2zx0&feature=related) in the same aria. She shows only half (if that) of Callas' dramatic instincts, but the compact, silvery, penetrating tone is a good example of what I have in mind. On the same page there's Elizabeth Grümmer singing Non mi dir (in German). Hers is an 'in between' kind of voice. Bigger and more 'operatic' than Stich-Randall's, but powerful and hugely convincing as a total package.


Personally, I do tend to prefer a larger voice for Anna. I like Sutherland, but I also enjoy Grummer (in many off the air broadcasts from Salzburg with Furtwangler conducting). Interestingly enough, for most of these performances Schwarzkopf was the Elvira, and she is on record as saying that these performances are a much truer representation of her usual Elvira. For the Giulini, she gave a slightly more shrewish interpretation, to offset the gentler, creamy voiced Anna of Sutherland, but I digress. I seem to remember Leontyne Price also sang the role (for Karajan in Salzburg I believe, also with Schwarzkopf as Elvira). I haven't heard any broadcasts of those performances, but I do remember a studio version of "non mi dir", in which the aria is sung beatifully, though Price is defeated by the coloratura in the alegretto. I see that many of the Annas I do like, also sang a deal of Verdi - I'm thinking of Welitsch, Tomova-Sintov, Arroyo, Margaret Price, Sutherland. Stich-Randall's peformance is indeed nicely sung, but I miss the power of one of those larger voices.

Another early example of Callas's Mozart is this recording of her singing "Martern aller Arten" from "Die Entfuhrug aus dem Serail" (in Italian). Surprisingly enough, Costanze was introduced to the stage of La Scala by Maria Callas. The date: April 2, 1952. I know of no other performance, except perhaps the one by Schwarzkopf, which is sung with such fire, defiance, and yet with such femininity. The sustained top C is a little acrid, to be sure, but the final scale passage, in unison with the orchestra is stunningly executed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on February 09, 2008, 01:14:12 PM
"Non mi dir" for EMI in 1953

Oh, I have three "Non mi dir's" there, one of the of course from 1953, but as I said I didn't really like it. I prefer another type of voices here. And maybe Callas thought so if she didn't sing Mozart. (I do not count Constanze and couple arias from Don Giovanni)

Maybe my favorite is Carol Vaness, she is both spinto and sings all the coloraturas clearly and powerful. I wish I also had her Elvira. :( But I would even say not "favorite" but standard, as I consider Donna Anna. Tomowa-Sintow and Nilsson impressed me more, though passages are not their strongest points. Sutherland, imho, sounds not as powerful as she usually does.


PS: I must confess that my main passion is music, so sometimes I'm critical to singers I like, and it doesn't mean I'm evil >:D it only means I don't like how they sing this particular role. And how it correlates with the music itself, if it fits or not.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on February 09, 2008, 02:08:35 PM
Callas' "Tutte le torture" is indeed hair raising and one of the very best I've heard. But check out the amazingly fiery Edda Moser and Leyla Gencer (the latter on youtube IIRC). Sizzling stuff from all three ladies.

BTW my favourite Annas are Margaret Price and Suzanne Danco. Totally different in every aspect, but utterly believable: vocally, dramatically, emotionally.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 14, 2008, 04:01:49 AM
Well the '55 La Scala Norma has arrived from www.divinarecords.com (http://www.divinarecords.com) and I have to say it is worth every penny. The sound is an improvement even on the excellent version I had on the Arkadia label, and the presentation is exemplary in every way. If I have one criticism, it would be the division of the 2 discs. I would have thought it would have been better to finish Disc 1 with the first Norma/Adalgisa duet and then start Disc 2 from Norma's lines Ma di'. L'amato giovane. I think I'm right in thinking it wouldn't have made Disc 2 too long. That said, I am now tempted by some of their other releases. With results like this, they really are worth the extra outlay

(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17_.jpg)

Despite what certain members of this board seem to think, this performance is a reminder that Callas not only sang with great imagination, but often with great beauty of tone.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 13, 2008, 09:12:56 PM
More Maria... well, I can't get enough of her...just stumbled on this great site... comprehensive "performance annals and discography"...only 186 pages so far in what seems to be ongoing research...

http://www.frankhamilton.org/mc/c5.pdf
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 14, 2008, 02:02:17 AM
More Maria... well, I can't get enough of her...just stumbled on this great site... comprehensive "performance annals and discography"...only 186 pages so far in what seems to be ongoing research...

http://www.frankhamilton.org/mc/c5.pdf

Thanks, ZB. Looks like I have some reading ahead of me.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 14, 2008, 06:10:55 AM
Thanks, ZB. Looks like I have some reading ahead of me.

REALLY fascinating...from her earliest years...must be a labor of love...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on March 14, 2008, 09:07:36 AM
REALLY fascinating...from her earliest years...must be a labor of love...

I came across that years ago.  I love how they even have her Public School performances in H. M. S. Pinafore (as Ralph!) and The Mikado.  If only pirates of those would turn up!   ;D  You almost expect to find every occasion on which she sang "Happy Birthday!"

The same site also has several other lists (by Composer, artists who sang with Callas, discographies) worth checking out:

http://www.frankhamilton.org/mc/index.html
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on March 15, 2008, 07:27:42 AM
Wow, thanks ZB. I merely scrolled and stopped here and there, and all kinds of fascinating details come up.

Like this Bocaccio performance (1941) in which Irma Kolassi also sang. Or a 1939 Oberon "Ocean Thou Mighty Monster" . She was to sing that in a late 1960s recital (in rather shaky voice). To think she actually knew the music for 30 years is astonishing and revelatory. I notice that a lot of the stuff she studied in De Hidalgo's classes were of the heavy kind, something quite unusual for a 16 or 17 year old (Norma, Aida for example :o)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 15, 2008, 09:18:43 AM
Having never heard Callas before, I just impulse bought a 10 CD boxed set today "her greatest operas" for £8 (or US$16). A 10CD set of Lucia di Lammermoor, Norma, La Traviata, Tosca and Cavalleria Rusticana. Haven't heard any of these pieces before, and only really know 1 of the composers a little bit - Puccini. I am excited.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 15, 2008, 09:41:18 AM
Having never heard Callas before, I just impulse bought a 10 CD boxed set today "her greatest operas" for £8 (or US$16). A 10CD set of Lucia di Lammermoor, Norma, La Traviata, Tosca and Cavalleria Rusticana. Haven't heard any of these pieces before, and only really know 1 of the composers a little bit - Puccini. I am excited.

Are these live or studio? Cavalleria Rusticana will be studio because there are no extant live recordings of her singing this opera, and she never performed it on stage again after her early days in Athens. Of the others, there are quite a few live performances of La Traviata, most of them preferable to the studio one she made for Cetra in 1952. Of the others, she made 2 studio recordings of each (all for EMI). The 1953 Tosca, conducted by Victor De Sabata is one of the great recordings of all time, whereas the later 1965 one (with Pretre) has little to commend it. The earlier versions of Lucia di Lammermoor and Norma find her in sovereign voice, though there is also a lot to be said for the later ones (especially the 1960 Norma). I wish you some happy listening. If indeed, it is the De Sabata Tosca in the box, might I suggest that you start with that.

Might I also make another suggestion? As a bargain box, it is quite likely that they don't come with libretti and translations. If not, I would try and get hold of them before listening. To get Callas, you really need to listen with libretto in hand, so that you understand the dramatic situation.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 15, 2008, 09:55:14 AM
Are these live or studio? Cavalleria Rusticana will be studio because there are no extant live recordings of her singing this opera, and she never performed it on stage again after her early days in Athens. Of the others, there are quite a few live performances of La Traviata, most of them preferable to the studio one she made for Cetra in 1952. Of the others, she made 2 studio recordings of each (all for EMI). The 1953 Tosca, conducted by Victor De Sabata is one of the great recordings of all time, whereas the later 1965 one (with Pretre) has little to commend it. The earlier versions of Lucia di Lammermoor and Norma find her in sovereign voice, though there is also a lot to be said for the later ones (especially the 1960 Norma). I wish you some happy listening. If indeed, it is the De Sabata Tosca in the box, might I suggest that you start with that.

Might I also make another suggestion? As a bargain box, it is quite likely that they don't come with libretti and translations. If not, I would try and get hold of them before listening. To get Callas, you really need to listen with libretto in hand, so that you understand the dramatic situation.


Tosca is with de Sabata (1953)
La Traviata is with Giulini (1955)
Lucia is with Serafin (1953)
Norma is wirh Serafin (1954)
Cavalleria is with Serafin (1953)

Thanks for the advice - is there any place online that has these libretti?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: bricon on March 15, 2008, 02:11:06 PM
is there any place online that has these libretti?

Here are the libretti that you are after.

Except for the La Traviata libretto, these are the libretti that EMI supplied with earlier versions of the releases that you have in that box-set – the track cue points indicated in these libretti should coincide with the tracks on your CDs.

These are all .pdf files, they are able to be saved on your computer.

Tosca (http://emiclassics.com/phpNewSite/historical/pdfs/toscalib1.pdf)
La Traviata (http://www.columbia.edu/itc/music/reserves/traviata.html)
Lucia di Lammermoor (http://emiclassics.com/phpNewSite/historical/pdfs/58619720weblibretto.pdf)
Norma (http://emiclassics.com/phpNewSite/historical/pdfs/72435868342_norma_sung_text.pdf)
Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci (http://emiclassics.com/phpNewSite/historical/pdfs/cavpaglibe.pdf)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 15, 2008, 10:55:58 PM
Tosca is with de Sabata (1953)
La Traviata is with Giulini (1955)
Lucia is with Serafin (1953)
Norma is wirh Serafin (1954)
Cavalleria is with Serafin (1953)

Thanks for the advice - is there any place online that has these libretti?

All recorded before Callas's voice started to deteriorate, so you should be fine with these sets. Be warned, though, that the Traviata is live, and, as such, the sound is variable, with moments of distortion and overload. However, for such a performance, it's worth putting up with these faults in recording.

I see you have already been given advice as to where to find the libretti.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Peregrine on March 22, 2008, 11:05:50 AM
I'm listening to this:

(http://beta.bordersstores.com/ProductImages/products/00/52/15/a/52152603_a.jpg)

Not an opera I'm familiar with, but Callas is in great voice, she sounds beautiful.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 22, 2008, 12:17:40 PM
I'm listening to this:

(http://beta.bordersstores.com/ProductImages/products/00/52/15/a/52152603_a.jpg)

Not an opera I'm familiar with, but Callas is in great voice, she sounds beautiful.

No doubt about it. This is one of Callas's greatest nights in the theatre. 1957 probably marked the last year when her voice was in peak condition. It is the year of the Cologne La Sonnambula, the studio Barbiere,the La Scala Un Ballo in Maschera, and the Dallas inaugural concert, all of which show her in sovereign voice. But it is also the year when cracks were beginning to show - as in the studio Manon Lescaut, the obvious strain that the studio Turandot put on her (I still can't understand Legge's decision to record her in this role at this stage in her career) and in the series of Sonnambulas in Edinburgh. After that, there would be occasional great moments (the Dallas Medeas, and the Covent Garden and Lisbon Traviatas, for example) but her voice began increasingly to let her down.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on April 06, 2008, 06:13:18 PM
I'm listening to this:

(http://beta.bordersstores.com/ProductImages/products/00/52/15/a/52152603_a.jpg)

Not an opera I'm familiar with, but Callas is in great voice, she sounds beautiful.

Another praise for Callas - she revived the opera after many years of oblivion, and brought all her best to the role of Anna Bolena. Gavazzeni in his interview recalled how hard she worked with the score and settings from mornings till evenings with endless vigor, making everyone else work, too.  ;D

I can recommend one more recording from the same year - The Barber of Seville - with Alva, Gobbi and Zaccaria. They all sound great and Callas' portrayal is a supreme one. I bet no one can sing "Una voce poco fa" with such charm and musical exquisiteness.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 22, 2008, 05:47:30 AM

I can recommend one more recording from the same year - The Barber of Seville - with Alva, Gobbi and Zaccaria. They all sound great and Callas' portrayal is a supreme one. I bet no one can sing "Una voce poco fa" with such charm and musical exquisiteness.

Funnily enough, I have just been re-listening to this Barbiere, having been reminded of it by a friend of mine, who is about to direct the opera in Moscow. I don't know what modern recording he had bought, no doubt of some ur-text edition, but he had listened to it and said it gave him very little enthusiasm for his task. Then he bought the Callas version (the studio one - this is one occasion where the studio version surpasses the live event of the previous year), and enthusiasm was renewed. Conducted with style and elegance by Galliera, the whole cast, in particular Callas, Gobbi and Alva, respond with performances of surprising lightness and grace. Indeed it is hardly possible to believe, in the case of Callas and Gobbi, that these are the same artists who plumb the depths of tragedy in Rigoletto, Aida, Lucia di Lammermoor, Un Ballo in Maschera and Tosca. Many more recent performances, to my ears at least, sound stodgy, the comedy drawn with heavier brush strokes. Listening to this version again, it is easy to hear Rossini's influence on Offenbach. The whole set fizzes and sparkles like an excellent dry champagne. Callas's ability to lighten her voice is indeed miraculous, but it is not just that. This set was recorded around the same time as the studio La Sonnambula, another opera for which she lightens her tone, but somehow, within that alchemy, she still presents two completely different characters, and we see that happiness for Amina is quite a different thing from what it is for Rosina. As usual, Callas is able to colour her voice to compliment the particular tinta of the score, pastels for the Bellini, set, as it is, in the Swiss Alps, and brighter, more vivid colours for the Seville of Rossini. If the other singers are not quite on this high level of achievement, they are, none the less, marvellous at vocal acting, Gobbi and Alva interacting quite wonderfully in their Act I duet. Nor do Zaccaria and Ollendorff overdo the comedy and the Buona sera quintet is one of the highlights of the performance. Gabriella Carturan, allowed her aria in Act II, is firmly in the picture, and I recommend the set unreservedly. Why (Callas in comedy being quite different from Callas in tragedy) Harry might even like it.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: stridonolassu on April 22, 2008, 07:35:13 AM
I'd like to second Tsaraslondon and Sarastro.  You need to get this recording if you do not have it.  The only regrettable thing about it are the cuts.  But you just have to get over that as you must with most of Callas' recordings.  I'm so grateful for recordings like this one.  Today nobody would cast her voice as Rosina in the theater.  I love her little innocent girl voice at the beginning and how she turns during Una Voce in "ma se mi toccano".  Genius.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on May 02, 2008, 06:06:14 PM
This week I listened to the EMI reissue of Verdi arias, a conflation that brings together the first (1959) disc and adds a few later recordings. Already in vocal trouble in the first batch of recordings, Callas still makes many phrases etch themselves in the mind. Technically she is amazing, with every atrocious difficulty of Lady Macbeth and Abigaille fearlessly executed. The occasional squally, barely controlled loud top notes notwithstanding, this is an object lesson in great singing. The same qualities are in evidence in the later arias, but at that late stage she was in dire vocal straits and this is a case of the good, the bad and the uugly showing in equal measure. Still, Callas practically owned any role she sang.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 03, 2008, 01:26:16 AM
This week I listened to the EMI reissue of Verdi arias, a conflation that brings together the first (1959) disc and adds a few later recordings.

The 1959 (actually recorded in 1958) arias do constitute one of the great recital records of all time. They were recorded at the same time as her Mad Scenes LP, which has also entered the realms of history. The voice has obviously deteriorated substantially in only 4 years since the 1954 Puccini Arias and Lyric and Coloratura. However,  it is not yet as difficult to listen to as it is in all those late 1960s recital discs, though it has to be admitted that the final screamed and squally top C at the end of the Nabucco cabaletta is something of a trial. On the other hand, if Callas had left us nothing but this 1958 performance of Lady Macbeth's Sleepwalking Scene, she would still have gone down in the annals of great singers. I know of no other performance that comes within a mile of its psychological insight and musical expertise. Here, Callas's own description of the recording of this scene.

Quote
I was in quite good voice that day, for you know we have our ups and downs. I was proud when I stepped down to listen to the playback, and I told our then artistic director Walter Legge, "that was, I think, some good singing." "Oh, extraordinary," he said, "but now you will hear it and understand that you have to redo it." I was a bit shocked and said, "What do you mean by that?". He said, "You'll listen to it and you'll see." In fact, I did listen to it, and it was astonishing, perfect vocally. But the main idea of this Sleepwalking Scene was not underlined. In other words, she is in a nightmare-sleepwalking stage. She has to convey all these odd thoughts which go through her head - evil, fearsome, terrifying. So I had made a masterpiece of vocal singing, but I had not done my job as an interpreter. Immediately, as soon as I heard it, I said, "Well, you are right; now I understand," and I went and performed it.

She then goes into a detailed examination of the aria, its shifts in thought and mood which change from one line to the next, almost from bar to bar. Her conclusion is also worth quoting.

Quote
So you see, this is actually a mad scene in sleepwalking form. How can a mad woman with crazy thoughts jumping from one to the other be conveyed in a straight, lovely kind of evenly placed vocal piece? It cannot. Therefore I had to break it into all these pieces, and Verdi helps a singer with all his diminuendos, crescendos, and allargandos.

The miracle of Callas is that she could achieve all this without destroying her impeccable legatoand appreciation of the musical line.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 11, 2008, 03:36:13 AM
Rather than starting a new thread, I thought the proper place for a rare recording of Maria Callas' teacher, Elvira de Hidalgo (1892-1980) might be here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pqaEf395bY&feature=related

I like especially the focus in her tones and the fetching carnaval atmosphere in the beginning.

ZB

PS Plenty of photos here, teacher and student:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlI8TkOvsIE
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 11, 2008, 08:59:05 AM

I like especially the focus in her tones and the fetching carnaval atmosphere in the beginning.

ZB




Also interesting that, though a light voice, she is not afraid of using chest. Especially in the light of what Callas said about chest voice in her master classes ie that if the low notes weren't any good, then the high ones would end up collapsing too.

On the other hand, one might argue that Callas's top notes did indeed collapse, while her chest tones did not. What are your thoughts on that, ZB?

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 11, 2008, 08:33:28 PM

Also interesting that, though a light voice, she is not afraid of using chest. Especially in the light of what Callas said about chest voice in her master classes ie that if the low notes weren't any good, then the high ones would end up collapsing too.

On the other hand, one might argue that Callas's top notes did indeed collapse, while her chest tones did not. What are your thoughts on that, ZB?


First of all, I am always fascinated by Callas' speaking voice where she wasn't shy of using her lower register for speech. I always had an idea that one could help one's singing voice while not singing, meaning speaking in a way that would support it. Contrast her manner of speaking to other female singers who may have mistakenly taken the advice of their own teachers, that is, "speak high" and sound superficial. I am convinced (by trying out different modes) that it is a mistake to cut off the lower register when speaking, for the same reason that is doesn't work in singing. In order to do that one has to tense the muscles of the larynx, not a good practice.

I was just listening to Sutherland in Maria Stuarda and thinking how effortless she makes it all sound compared to the screechiness of some sopranos in either of the main roles. Sutherland never pushed her voice beyond its limits, nor did she need to.  Undue air pressure causes damage. A singer has to know how much his or her voice can take and not go beyond that. I don't think it is really heroic to lose one's voice in the pursuit of equally heroic roles as what happened to Beverly Sills.

Speaking from experience and from some other opinions about this, I do believe one can discern what might be called a 4th register just around high Bb-B in a female voice. This tessitura must NOT be forced under any circumstance. Many times Callas crossed the line as in the high C's of Lady Macbeth. The result was thrilling but had the seeds of its own destruction.

The problem is finding the balance within the boundaries of art and still be dramatically convincing.

ZB

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on September 19, 2008, 03:08:34 PM
Maria Callas
"Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9piRiiZ0C4Q&feature=related
Fantastic!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Anne on September 19, 2008, 09:17:50 PM
Sarastro, you were right.  Thanks, it was gorgeous!  Maybe there's a chance that I can still like her.  Any recommendations?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on September 19, 2008, 09:54:41 PM
Any recommendations?

Maybe Lucia di Lammermoor (one of...) with di Stefano? No less fantastic.
Here is the duet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fadSL7L1i-s

And the complete cast:

Lucia di Lammermoor

Herbert von Karajan (1955)

Lord Enrico Asthon     Rolando Panerai
Miss Lucia     Maria Callas
Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood     Giuseppe di Stefano
Raimondo Bidebent     Nicola Zaccaria
Alisa     Luisa Villa
Lord Arturo Bucklaw     Giuseppe Zampieri
Normanno     Mario Carlin

Orchestra: RIAS de Berlín
Chor: Teatro alla Scala di Milano
Live Recording
Emi
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 20, 2008, 03:42:34 AM
Sarastro, you were right.  Thanks, it was gorgeous!  Maybe there's a chance that I can still like her.  Any recommendations?

And Anne, please note, that unlike most singers, Callas sings what is written ie there is no second reponds to accomodate an extra breath. Saint-Saens instructs that the phrase Ah reponds a ma caresse be sung in one breath, and Callas is one of the very few singers who adhere to this.It makes for a very long phrase, but the gain in legato is immeasurable. Indeed she does the same on the second phrase Verse moi, verse moi l'ivresse. It is only when she sings it the last time that she introduces a breath here, and some have suggested this is the reason this aria was not passed for release until after her death.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Anne on September 20, 2008, 07:42:20 AM
Thanks Tsaraslondon and Sarastro.  Much appreciated!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 20, 2008, 02:18:26 PM
Indeed, the "breathing issue' seems to be the reason why Callas didn't want the record to be issued. Talk about lofty standards :o. Dalila's three arias have never been sung with this combinaiton of long-limbed phrasing, dark, concentrated tone, impeccable diction and seamless legato. BTW for those who are not familiar with the immensely poetic text, listen carefully with libretto and translation. Callas' response to every word and inflexion is a small miracle.

Staying with Samson et Dalila and Youtube, HERE (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPET4RAe6yQ&feature=related)'s another one that presents one of the only singers that was vocally, musically and histrionically on a par with Callas: Jon Vickers is heard here as Samson with Verrret's quite beautiful Dalila. Listen to the excellent delivery of the aria (Verrett) and notice how Vicker's soft voice actually overwhelms Verret's full-throated singing. Hear how he vocally suggests an orgasm with his softly crooned tones and then his impassioned delivery of his single line. Excellent diction here, too - but for that you must hear him in the complete role, either on disc or on one of the numerous performances in which he sang.

Callas and Vickers sang together in Medea. Is there a goodish-sounding version of those performances ?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 21, 2008, 09:25:36 AM


Callas and Vickers sang together in Medea. Is there a goodish-sounding version of those performances ?

The best sounding Medea performance is from Covent Garden in 1959. Unfortunately the performance is nowhere near on a par with those she gave in Dallas the previous year, for which the sound is not so good. Indeed many said the blood curdling sounds she uttered were a response to Bing cancelling her Met contract only hours before the first night. Vickers and Callas's association is well documented in Jon Vickers: A Hero's Life by Jeannie Williams. Vickers always spoke very highly of Callas, often stating that the two people to have exerted the most influence on post second world war opera were Wieland Wagner and Callas.

Thanks for the Samson et Dalila clip by the way. As you say, Verrett singes the aria beautifully, but Vickers is something else again. What a shame he and Callas didn't work together more often. Apparently she was keen to have him sing Pollione to her Norma, but he was terrified of the (unwritten) high C in Act 1 and refused, saying the critics would slaughter him if he omitted it. He did eventually sing the role in Orange to Caballe's Norma, still without the top C. I have no idea if the critics mentioned it or not. On another occasion, he wanted Callas to sing Didon to his Aenee, but that was in 1969, and her stage career was already over. I always think it a tragedy Callas never sang Didon. One can only dream about a performance of the opera with her and Vickers.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 21, 2008, 11:45:42 AM
Thanks. I'll try to locate a Dallas Medea. I've never owned the complete thing, only an lp of excerpts from the Cetra album (Callas' of course  :D). And as you can imagine, no Medea adventure can be complete without Callas' assumption in the Pasolini film. Blood curdling you said? Definitely. And so touching at the same time.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on September 21, 2008, 05:57:15 PM
I like Verrett, but she is not as enchanting as Callas who sings it so naturally and ethereally. I feel like being on the Aegean sea shore with tender breeze and warm mild waves caressing my body; and it goes further than just imagination - close your eyes and sense it on the skin. :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Bulldog on September 22, 2008, 09:37:47 AM
"most of Mozart's music is dull." - Maria Callas

That does it - I'm not going to listen to Mozart anymore.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 22, 2008, 06:44:17 PM
"most of Mozart's music is dull." - Maria Callas

Quote marks are not enough. Source, please.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 23, 2008, 05:13:24 AM
Quote
And this, from Maria Callas (who should have known better): "Most of Mozart's music is dull."

Quotation marks again. No source.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 23, 2008, 07:47:04 AM
Whether or not that quote is directly attributable to Callas, her singing of Mozart certainly wasn't dull

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=eMXX2A5pIac (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=eMXX2A5pIac)


Interestingly enough Callas was La Scala's first ever Kostanze.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 23, 2008, 08:23:53 PM
I'm not disputing that Callas *may* have said that.  But that flies in the face of the many performances she gave early in her carreer of Konstanze, Elvira and Anna. Prima donna assoluta, she could have chosen to sing the national anthem or the phone book if she so wanted.

As any good singer, she knew whether or not a mozartian role suited her - none of them did IMO. But neither did it suit Flagstad, Tebaldi, Olivero, Caballé, Sutherland, Milanov or Nilsson (with the occasional exception, such as Caballé's Fiordiligi or Nilsson's or Sutherland's Anna).

But that's not the point. Again, she *may* have said that. But Callas biographies have become a cottage industry, so I'm not sure googling will provide the answer. More often than not Google will lead us to a relevant article, but if it's quoting someone who's quoting someone, we stray from the actual source and the alleged facts become rather suspect. I notice also that 'googling it' produces a couple of different 'quotes'.

Note, too, that Callas was an accomplished pianist. She may have ben thinking of all those 'sonate facile' that piano students have to go through to earn their grades.... In any case, dullness is certainly not something we can associate with Callas' singing of the fearsome Konstanze aria !
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on September 23, 2008, 09:39:32 PM
Well, what even if she said this? For us, she is, first of all, a singer, so, please, set aside her personal preferences and let's discuss her Art instead. What if she didn't like eggplants? Could she not have her opinions and preferences, is she denied to? I just don't get the point of posting this "quote" in the thread. It is just like coming to the Karajan thread and saying: "Hey, Karajan didn't like Rembrandt." Absolutely non-contributing remark.

Personally, I heard from singers that Mozart's music is good for the voice's "hygiene" (how they call it), but it is "dull" compared to highly dramatic Verdi or Puccini. ;) Besides, the musical structure of classical (i.e. written in the Classicism period which favored restraint) works is itself an argument for being dull for a passionate person.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on September 24, 2008, 03:07:45 AM
I'm not disputing that Callas *may* have said that.  But that flies in the face of the many performances she gave early in her carreer of Konstanze, Elvira and Anna.

 ???  Konstanze was her only Mozart role.  But even if she believed his music was dull, I don't see what it matters.  No one's right about everything.   ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 24, 2008, 06:57:50 AM
Sorry, that was not clear. She sang arias from Elvira and Anna. Both late and early in her carreer. I was not aware she had sung Konstanze on the stage though. I thought it was only Martern aller Arten in recitals.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on September 24, 2008, 07:41:14 AM
I was not aware she had sung Konstanze on the stage though. I thought it was only Martern aller Arten in recitals.

Just four performances at La Scala (in Italian):  April 2, 5, 7, and 9, 1952.  Unfortunately, no recording.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on September 25, 2008, 06:55:57 PM
OK, thanks !

BTW I should have referred to her recordings of Constanze's Tutte le torture :D.

The Don Giovanni arias she recorded were Non mi dir (Anna) which was her EMI test recording (1953?) and she went back to it later in her carreer. She also sang Or sai chi l'onore and In quali eccessi (Elvira) in the sixties (at least on record - I'm not sure about recitals).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 26, 2008, 12:24:40 AM
OK, thanks !

BTW I should have referred to her recordings of Constanze's Tutte le torture :D.



I've already posted a youtube link to the recording above.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on October 09, 2008, 11:10:17 PM
Just got Nabucco (http://www.operaclass.com/catalogo/disco.asp?idDisco=344&idCat=oc&idioma=en); the sound quality is poor, Callas is terrific, so is Bechi.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 10, 2008, 03:37:14 AM
Just got Nabucco (http://www.operaclass.com/catalogo/disco.asp?idDisco=344&idCat=oc&idioma=en); the sound quality is poor, Callas is terrific, so is Bechi.

Yes it's a shame about the sound, but you are right Callas and Bechi are terrific, their duet being a particular high point, Callas sweeping up to a ringing Eb in alt before Bechi joins her on a top Ab. Of course opera is not all about top notes, but it's undeniably exciting.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on December 29, 2008, 11:04:06 PM
What about Lady Macbeth? Indeed threatening; the role is dominated by Callas. I usually do not like to write extensively about great interpretations...there is nothing to add - just listen and enjoy the glory of Opera. The public there seems to be raptured to their hairtips. I wish I were there.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: rubio on January 12, 2009, 12:49:46 PM
For anyone interested in this thread or anyone just getting the Callas bug, EMI have just released a 70 disc set of all Callas's studio recordings, including those she did for Cetra. HMV in Oxford Street are selling this for a ludicrously cheap £70, which works out at £1 per disc. It certainly cost me an awful lot more to collect all these sets!

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51GrbMPn0GL._SS400_.jpg)

This Callas box for 30 Euro from Amazon France must be an amazing offer even if the Euro is strong! :o

http://www.amazon.fr/Maria-Callas-LInt%C3%A9grale-enregistrements-1949-1969/dp/B000TIO4Z0/ref=reg_hu-wl_list-recs
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 12, 2009, 01:49:07 PM
This Callas box for 30 Euro from Amazon France must be an amazing offer even if the Euro is strong! :o

http://www.amazon.fr/Maria-Callas-LInt%C3%A9grale-enregistrements-1949-1969/dp/B000TIO4Z0/ref=reg_hu-wl_list-recs

That's a fantastic bargain! I almost feel like getting them all over again.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on January 12, 2009, 04:23:41 PM
It is so ordered.  :D

In order to get free shipping I sent it to Belle-Maman in Belgium. She's coming here next September. It'll be a while, but it's really worth it.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on March 20, 2009, 12:28:29 AM
BTW I should have referred to her recordings of Constanze's Tutte le torture :D.

I was quite cautious about her Mozart (after those Elvira and Anna's arias in the recital), and never listened to this single aria Tutte le torture (which Tsaraslondon posted the link to)...until right now....and I really liked it. Just flawless.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 20, 2009, 02:09:57 AM
I was quite cautious about her Mozart (after those Elvira and Anna's arias in the recital), and never listened to this single aria Tutte le torture (which Tsaraslondon posted the link to)...until right now....and I really liked it. Just flawless.

This 1953 test recording of Donna Anna's Non mi dir is also superb. Note the prodigious breath control and impeccable legato line. There is no doubt that, in her hey day, she could have sung Donna Anna.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0)

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: matti on March 20, 2009, 05:35:26 AM
Note the prodigious breath control and impeccable legato line.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyxmsIc6Gf0)



Ok, but don't you think she's painfully flat? I adore Callas in general, but this one was far from top-notch.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 20, 2009, 09:39:01 AM
Ok, but don't you think she's painfully flat? I adore Callas in general, but this one was far from top-notch.



Actually no I don't. Maybe it's the youtube compression. I have this recording on CD and she doesn't sound flat at all. And, if anything, Callas was a singer who tended to sing on the sharp side of the note, rather than the flat side. We all hear voices differently of course. Jessye Norman often seems flat to me. Ditto Regine Crespin.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: matti on March 20, 2009, 10:04:39 AM
Actually no I don't. Maybe it's the youtube compression. I have this recording on CD and she doesn't sound flat at all. And, if anything, Callas was a singer who tended to sing on the sharp side of the note, rather than the flat side. We all hear voices differently of course. Jessye Norman often seems flat to me. Ditto Regine Crespin.



If it were the youtube compression, that would regard the orchestra as well, wouldn't it. I listened to the clip again, and I could swear it's flat (and wanting in many aspects as well...)

Re hearing voices differently: Very odd, but true. I also hear Jessye Norman often as being flat.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 20, 2009, 10:30:31 AM
and wanting in many aspects as well...)

 

Wanting in what aspects exactly? Remembering, of course, that this was a test recording and never meant for release, she sails through the aria as if it is the easiest thing in the world, which of course it isn't. The breath control is prodigious; take, for instance, the way she phrases back into the reprise of "non mi dir". The coloratura is all accurately and cleanly articulated, but never once disturbs her peerless legato line. Furthermore, as always aware of the dramatic situation, she reminds us that (in Michael Scott's words), she is appealing to Don Ottavio, not about to throttle him. I find it one of the most affecting versions of the aria ever committed to disc. I only wish she had performed the whole role back in the early 1950s, when she could have encompassed its demands with consummate ease.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: matti on March 20, 2009, 10:54:38 AM
Wanting in delicacy and in phrasing Mozart demands. Matters of preference, of course. I prefer a voice like this for Mozart:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAPg4v7SazQ
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 20, 2009, 11:32:21 AM
Wanting in delicacy and in phrasing Mozart demands. Matters of preference, of course. I prefer a voice like this for Mozart:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAPg4v7SazQ

Preferences vary, it's true, but I really don't see how Callas is wanting in either delicacy or in the phrasing demanded by Mozart. And actually the swifter tempo adopted by Callas and Serafin for the slow section is proabably closer to present day ideas of Mozart performance. I do like this Grummer performance, but Callas's singing of that slow section is every bit as limpid, and the phrasing is even more long breathed - indeed she hardly seems to breathe at all. When it comes to the cabaletta, Callas's voice is actually much more supple, and she sings the grace notes at the beginning, ommitted by Grummer. Not that Grummer is in any way clumsy. She actually gets round the notes with admirable ease, though she does have to slow down for the final flourish, which Callas tosses off as easily as Sutherland did in her 1959 recording for Giulini.

Yet again I find myself agreeing with the eminent critic Michael Scott;

[Callas's] singing causes us to reexamine the music;the most remarkable thing about it is its sense of style. She reminds us that problems of style are not, as is commonly supposed, historic but musical. There is nothing in the least contrived or arty-sounding about it, in the manner of many Mozartians. Her voice is easily produced, her tone perfectly supported, and her phrasing a model. She demonstrates this by her use of upward portameno, always discreetly employed. she chooses appropriate colours within a modest frame to suit the text. We notice here a characteristic of her art; how, although completely unselfconsciously, her voice seems to echo the timbre of the wind instruments in the orchestra, as is appropriate in classical music. She executes all the exacting fioritura impeccably and seems hardly to breathe through the spacious phrasing. Equally remarkable is the breadth of the leisurely rallentando before she embarks on the alegretto, 'Forse un giorno'. Altogether her singing admits of no technical problems;this aria, one of the most demanding ever written, appears not to cost her the slightest effort.

Callas once remarked in her master classes, that Mozart was, in her opinion, sung too delicately, as if the singer were almost performing on tip toe, when it should be sung as openly and cleanly as Verdi, and I feel she has a point. And the revers can often be true also. Certainly, Callas's singing of Leonora's arias from Il Trovatore, is, in a very positive sense, almost Mozartian in its attention to detail and phrasing.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: matti on March 20, 2009, 12:02:07 PM
Preferences vary, it's true, but I really don't see how Callas is wanting in either delicacy or in the phrasing demanded by Mozart. And actually the swifter tempo adopted by Callas and Serafin for the slow section is proabably closer to present day ideas of Mozart performance. I do like this Grummer performance, but Callas's singing of that slow section is every bit as limpid, and the phrasing is even more long breathed - indeed she hardly seems to breathe at all. When it comes to the cabaletta, Callas's voice is actually much more supple, and she sings the grace notes at the beginning, ommitted by Grummer. Not that Grummer is in any way clumsy. She actually gets round the notes with admirable ease, though she does have to slow down for the final flourish, which Callas tosses off as easily as Sutherland did in her 1959 recording for Giulini.

Yet again I find myself agreeing with the eminent critic Michael Scott;

[Callas's] singing causes us to reexamine the music;the most remarkable thing about it is its sense of style. She reminds us that problems of style are not, as is commonly supposed, historic but musical. There is nothing in the least contrived or arty-sounding about it, in the manner of many Mozartians. Her voice is easily produced, her tone perfectly supported, and her phrasing a model. She demonstrates this by her use of upward portameno, always discreetly employed. she chooses appropriate colours within a modest frame to suit the text. We notice here a characteristic of her art; how, although completely unselfconsciously, her voice seems to echo the timbre of the wind instruments in the orchestra, as is appropriate in classical music. She executes all the exacting fioritura impeccably and seems hardly to breathe through the spacious phrasing. Equally remarkable is the breadth of the leisurely rallentando before she embarks on the alegretto, 'Forse un giorno'. Altogether her singing admits of no technical problems;this aria, one of the most demanding ever written, appears not to cost her the slightest effort.

Callas once remarked in her master classes, that Mozart was, in her opinion, sung too delicately, as if the singer were almost performing on tip toe, when it should be sung as openly and cleanly as Verdi, and I feel she has a point. And the revers can often be true also. Certainly, Callas's singing of Leonora's arias from Il Trovatore, is, in a very positive sense, almost Mozartian in its attention to detail and phrasing.






No point arguing on this matter any longer. Unlike you and Michael Scott, I hear her singing off pitch and that spoils it all for me at the very starting point, plus I do not get her phrasing. I DO like Callas a lot in 19th century rep, I did not mean my criticism to be a rant against her at all. I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 20, 2009, 12:15:28 PM
I did not mean my criticism to be a rant against her at all.

Nor did I take it to be one. I'm just puzzled. I was beginning to think my ears were deceiving me, but I've just listened again and still can't hear it as flat. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the voice is a lot darker than those we are used to hearing in Mozart. But, yes, we'll just have to agree to disagree  :)

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: matti on March 20, 2009, 12:33:58 PM
I'm just puzzled. I was beginning to think my ears were deceiving me

I am no authority on purity of pitch! But as you said earlier, you also hear Norman often as flat. I've heard informed people on this forum say Mattila was flat... I don't hear her flat though I'm no fan of hers. So...  ??? ??? ???

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on March 20, 2009, 09:55:35 PM
My take: I've never warmed to Callas' Anna - either that test pressing or the later versions. She sounds too imposing, not vulnerable enough. I don't detect any sharpness or flatness - just that I prefer a more focussed, diamantine sound: Margaret Price is my ideal. Grümmer is not far behind, but Furtwängler's heavy soup is not my kind of thing. IMO Callas was striking, but strangely inadequate as Anna. She would have killed Giovanni with a single frown.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on March 20, 2009, 10:24:37 PM
not vulnerable enough.
She would have killed Giovanni with a single frown.

Well, I never heard Donna Anna as vulnerable. If you read the libretto, in the first scene, she sings that she will kill Don Giovanni ("Heaven come to my assistance, I'll pursue thee unto death"), then swears to avenge her father. In her recitavio and aria Or sai che l'honore she sings how anger enforced her to fight the intruder, then she calls for vengeance, and after she announces that Don Ottavio should wait for a year, if I'm not mistaken. And in fact, she is the only strong enough character to confront Don Giovanni's figure in the opera. Elvira is vulnerable, Zerlina is weak, Masetto gets beaten every time, Leporello is a servant, and Ottavio just sings beautiful arias. Only Anna and Commendatore truly pursue Don Giovanni.

Anyhow, I don't like Callas' Non mi dir at all, Konstanze's aria sounds more dramatic and exuberant to me.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 21, 2009, 01:41:24 AM
Well I am obviously in a minority here. But nothing anyone can say will change my mind. LP says she sounds too imposing, but I don't hear that at all. To my mind, Callas is no more imposing here than she is as Amina or Bellini's Elvira. Nilsson, Tomova-Sintov, Arroyo are, as far as I'm concerned, the singers who sound as if they would have "killed Giovanni with a single frown", and none of them sings it with anything like Callas's accuracy; with her peculiarly plaintive and plangent tone.

Sarastro too has a point. I can't say I've ever thought of Anna as being vulnerable. She is surely one of the strongest characters in the opera, stronger than Ottavio certainly. And, incidentally, LP, my admiration for Margaret Price's more central Donna Anna does not prevent me from enjoying Callas in the aria, though I would prefer not to listen to the later 1963 version.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on March 21, 2009, 03:31:30 PM
These are obvious elements of Anna's character. But there's still an element of vulnerability in her pride and desire for vengeance. She is not a firebrand or a shrew (Elvira is).  I think that at heart she's an easily hurt soul.

I gues I'll have to re-listen to Callas in the EMI test pressing. The 1963 one is painful to hear but, maybe because of that, the character's anguish comes through. I also like Danco's Anna (the Krips Decca). She is probably the most fiery of the lot. Moser is also a formidable character, vocally awesome - but her colours let us hear the part's underlying plaintiveness.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 22, 2009, 12:48:47 PM
Found the Callas 70 CD studio boxset on EBay for $79 including shipping so I took the plunge, for $1 per CD can't go too wrong  ;)

Previously I had several Callas collections and recitals plus a handful of full operas, so this is a huge leap and will take a long time to digest it all, but I have fallen under the spell of la Divina
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 22, 2009, 12:54:39 PM
People have already mentioned the expensive live Callas performances released by Divina Records, but has anyone looked into the much cheaper versions available from Myto and Naxos?

(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/mytomcd00140.jpg)  (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/naxos811032527.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 22, 2009, 01:06:49 PM
Next
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 25, 2009, 10:07:12 AM

[Callas's] singing causes us to reexamine the music;the most remarkable thing about it is its sense of style. She reminds us that problems of style are not, as is commonly supposed, historic but musical. There is nothing in the least contrived or arty-sounding about it, in the manner of many Mozartians. Her voice is easily produced, her tone perfectly supported, and her phrasing a model. She demonstrates this by her use of upward portameno, always discreetly employed. she chooses appropriate colours within a modest frame to suit the text. We notice here a characteristic of her art; how, although completely unselfconsciously, her voice seems to echo the timbre of the wind instruments in the orchestra, as is appropriate in classical music. She executes all the exacting fioritura impeccably and seems hardly to breathe through the spacious phrasing. Equally remarkable is the breadth of the leisurely rallentando before she embarks on the alegretto, 'Forse un giorno'. Altogether her singing admits of no technical problems;this aria, one of the most demanding ever written, appears not to cost her the slightest effort.


Thanks for the quote. Surely this is not a Mozart coming out of a mold and not what the public has come to expect, the depth of character instead of a stylized "classic" sound. There is ONLY one Bb, the first in a string of upbeats that was little off towards the end of the coloratura section but she recovered on the second note. Everything else is exactly on target, as Callas used to say about "the center of the tone".

This was a test pressing anyway so really it's not fair to go through it with a microscopic tuning apparatus.  Callas, as you say, if anything, tended to be slightly sharp in the highest register but as Marco Rothmuller told me in 1982, this was by design. He said it is more correct acoustically to do so.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 25, 2009, 04:56:04 PM
Thanks for the quote. Surely this is not a Mozart coming out of a mold and not what the public has come to expect, the depth of character instead of a stylized "classic" sound. There is ONLY one Bb, the first in a string of upbeats that was little off towards the end of the coloratura section but she recovered on the second note. Everything else is exactly on target, as Callas used to say about "the center of the tone".

This was a test pressing anyway so really it's not fair to go through it with a microscopic tuning apparatus.  Callas, as you say, if anything, tended to be slightly sharp in the highest register but as Marco Rothmuller told me in 1982, this was by design. He said it is more correct acoustically to do so.

ZB

Thanks, ZB. You reiterate one of the points that I was trying to make, that this was a test recording, not intended for release; a simple run through of an aria Callas knew from her student days. This is not a performance in any real sense of the word, but even under such circumstances, Callas is incapable of being dull, a sure sign, if ever there was one, that her musicality was instinctive, rather than studied. This is not to say that she didn't study hard, nor that she didn't learn deeply first from her teacher Elvira De Hidalgo, and then from Tullio Serafin, but without that innate musicality, she would never have been the artist she became.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 26, 2009, 03:17:54 AM
People have already mentioned the expensive live Callas performances released by Divina Records, but has anyone looked into the much cheaper versions available from Myto and Naxos?

(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/mytomcd00140.jpg)  (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/naxos811032527.jpg)

The Divina records ones are expensive, because of the documentation and the amount of work that goes into finding the best sound source they can. They also try to ensure that all performances play at the same pitch they were being sung on the night. If any of the performance has been lost in transmission, they will say so, sometimes splicing in bits form other performances for continuity (but they will track these bits separately, so you can omit them if you prefer). Altogether they are a labour of love; luxury items and well worth the extra outlay.

The Naxos performance are generally transfers from good LP sources of original EMI recordings. The transfers have been generally well achieved, but unlike EMI, they do not have access to the original masters. Many of these Callas studio recordings are now available on EMI's budget historic series, which retail at the same price as Naxos. I understand that Regis have also started issuing these complete sets, but they are very rough and ready, and in no way to be prefered to EMI or Naxos.

I don't know these Myto transfers. If they are anything like the Myto releases I have had in the past, the transfers will be pretty much ok, but not as good the Divina versions, nor do you get the extensive documentation

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 26, 2009, 04:27:36 AM
The Divina records ones are expensive, because of the documentation and the amount of work that goes into finding the best sound source they can. They also try to ensure that all performances play at the same pitch they were being sung on the night. If any of the performance has been lost in transmission, they will say so, sometimes splicing in bits form other performances for continuity (but they will track these bits separately, so you can omit them if you prefer). Altogether they are a labour of love; luxury items and well worth the extra outlay.

The Naxos performance are generally transfers from good LP sources of original EMI recordings. The transfers have been generally well achieved, but unlike EMI, they do not have access to the original masters. Many of these Callas studio recordings are now available on EMI's budget historic series, which retail at the same price as Naxos. I understand that Regis have also started issuing these complete sets, but they are very rough and ready, and in no way to be prefered to EMI or Naxos.

I don't know these Myto transfers. If they are anything like the Myto releases I have had in the past, the transfers will be pretty much ok, but not as good the Divina versions, nor do you get the extensive documentation

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61A2XMEP06L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Yes EMI is releasing some Calls operas in thier new budget historical line.......I think they come with reduced booklet info though, becomes confusing all the choices EMI has now. My complete Callas studio boxset arrived from Ebay for $79 total for 70 CDs, will be a long time to work through all these performances.   :D

I did get a couple Myto label versions cheap from Berkshire Records $10, and ordered a couple Naxos versions since they were mastered by Mark Obert Thorn......see how he did with them compared to EMI
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 26, 2009, 04:39:35 AM
I do have a question about EMI packaging of full price individual Callas operas..............

They use same artwork layout  but comes in three color schemes for background
-black
-dark blue
-medium blue

Does each color represent some distinct performance style or period, seems confusing but they may be a simple logic that escapes me.
The black seems to be studio performances.......

Unfortunately those Divina versions of Callas operas are very hard to find used, that is perhaps a good sign and verifies thier quality
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 26, 2009, 05:30:53 AM
I do have a question about EMI packaging of full price individual Callas operas..............

They use same artwork layout  but comes in three color schemes for background
-black
-dark blue
-medium blue

Does each color represent some distinct performance style or period, seems confusing but they may be a simple logic that escapes me.
The black seems to be studio performances.......

Unfortunately those Divina versions of Callas operas are very hard to find used, that is perhaps a good sign and verifies thier quality


Originally the black EMI pressings were all at full price, and all, except the Lisbon La Traviata, were of studio performances. The blue sets (if there are two different shades, I have a feeling that this might just be the result of different print runs) were all at mid price, and included all the other live sets issued by EMI (ie Anna Bolena, Il Pirata, Macbeth, Ifigenia in Tauride, the Bernstein and Cologne Sonnambulas, , the Berlin Lucia di Lammermoor and the Giulini Traviata), plus studio versions of operas she recorded twice. Confusingly, the first Norma was at full price, the second at mid price, the second Lucia at full price, the first at mid, and the second Tosca was also at mid price. The studio version of Medea, not originally recorded by EMI, but by Ricordi, was also, for some unfathomable reason, issued at mid price. To make things even more confusing, when Naxos started issuing EMI sets from the 1950s at bargain price, they decided to compete by bringing out their own bargain versions of the sets, in completely new digital remasterings, with minimal documentation. More recently many of the sets have become available in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series, which are all at mid price, and come with complete libretti and notes.

If you have the 70 CD Box, you also get the recordings she made for Cetra, so it is pretty much complete.

The Divina sets are really collector's items, so it is not surprising they are hard to find second hand. So far, I only have their release of the 1955 La Scala Norma, in my view the best performance she ever gave in this role, and therefore worth the outlay. The sound is much clearer than on any other version I have heard, and in fact is easily as good as the Berlin Lucia di Lammermoor, which always enjoyed the best sound of any of the live Callas sets. I am waiting for them to issue the Covent Garden la Traviata, which is, again IMO, the best of her preserved Violettas. I am surprised that this performance hasn't surfaced in the Royal Opera's own Heritage series yet.




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 26, 2009, 05:58:36 AM

Originally the black EMI pressings were all at full price, and all, except the Lisbon La Traviata, were of studio performances. The blue sets (if there are two different shades, I have a feeling that this might just be the result of different print runs) were all at mid price, and included all the other live sets issued by EMI (ie Anna Bolena, Il Pirata, Macbeth, Ifigenia in Tauride, the Bernstein and Cologne Sonnambulas, , the Berlin Lucia di Lammermoor and the Giulini Traviata), plus studio versions of operas she recorded twice. Confusingly, the first Norma was at full price, the second at mid price, the second Lucia at full price, the first at mid, and the second Tosca was also at mid price. The studio version of Medea, not originally recorded by EMI, but by Ricordi, was also, for some unfathomable reason, issued at mid price. To make things even more confusing, when Naxos started issuing EMI sets from the 1950s at bargain price, they decided to compete by bringing out their own bargain versions of the sets, in completely new digital remasterings, with minimal documentation. More recently many of the sets have become available in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series, which are all at mid price, and come with complete libretti and notes.

That makes some sense, that all the blue shades of artwork background were meant to be the same series just some variation in production.
So we can really think of them as just black series and blue series

Also just wanted to mention that the Callas 100 recent release is a great bargain, 6 Cds for $14.
Organized by composer for each CD........many many Callas collections out there but this is a great value

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41CNBRJ394L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 26, 2009, 10:21:05 AM
Thanks, ZB. You reiterate one of the points that I was trying to make, that this was a test recording, not intended for release; a simple run through of an aria Callas knew from her student days. This is not a performance in any real sense of the word, but even under such circumstances, Callas is incapable of being dull, a sure sign, if ever there was one, that her musicality was instinctive, rather than studied. This is not to say that she didn't study hard, nor that she didn't learn deeply first from her teacher Elvira De Hidalgo, and then from Tullio Serafin, but without that innate musicality, she would never have been the artist she became.

Tsaras, I was thinking about your comment "innate musicality" and surely Callas had more than ample reserves to draw upon. But this would not be enough for a singer, as any instrumentalist can have "musicality" and not have a clue how to apply it to singing. Some teachers of mine talked about "singing intelligence" which probably had to do with connecting up the words to the music so the two become seamless, even though in composition they may have been haphazardly put together (the music written first and then the libretto or vice versa).

So it is not only language, the ability to color and project the meaning but also character. Callas, as an actress, had the uncanny ability to dive deeply into the character she was playing and proceed as that persona would have expressed her emotions in singing. I really don't know of too many singers who have been that committed and of course were able to come up with such results. Claudia Muzio comes to mind. Mary Garden, although reputedly less of an accomplished singer, was supposed to be that kind of singing-actress.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on March 28, 2009, 11:47:27 AM
Very cheap used Callas books at Amazon worth getting:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QKAENR0VL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

Large hardbound book with 544 pages for $2, great source of photos BW and color, a coffe table art book. (have not read text yet)



(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71W43VWY8HL._SL500_AA240_.gif)

Large paperback with 264 pages for $1.50, gives performance review/insights to all easily found Callas performances (including supporting cast).
Great guide for collectors looking for the ultimate Callas versions to buy 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 28, 2009, 03:02:53 PM
Unsurprisingly, I have them both. The Ardoin is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Callas, and is a huge help when sifting through the various different live performances available.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on April 05, 2009, 09:23:56 AM
Tsaraslondon 
My Callas collection is rapidly growing thanks to this thread............. :)

(http://cgim.audiogon.com/i/vs/i/f/1238942968.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on April 05, 2009, 11:34:19 AM
But, are you listening to it? If so, could you give us some insights?

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on April 05, 2009, 12:48:44 PM
But, are you listening to it? If so, could you give us some insights?
Mike

That is my intention of posting here...............but it will take many weeks, months to begin to absorb all this material.
I need to become more familiar with it to make some useful comments and comparisons, and am starting with minimal background in opera in general mostly aria and recital Cds, although I have a very large classical music overall collection of several thousand Cds

I intend to ask Tsaraslondon many questions as I proceed, if he doesn't mind too much  :)

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on April 05, 2009, 01:35:09 PM
Great.....I bought the Karajan Vocal box, about 70 or so discs. That was roughly a year ago and I still have about one quarter to get through. TL is certainly the man to ask about Callas. So I will enjoy the information when it comes up.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 06, 2009, 12:33:30 AM
Darkangel, incredible as it may seem now, when I first discovered the voice of Callas (on a Pye Ember LP of her early Cetra recordings), almost all her recordings had been deleted. If I remember rightly, the only recordings still available were the stereo Norma and Tosca, Carmen, La Boheme and her recital of Puccini arias. I was actually still at school at the time, and managed to persuade various relatives to buy me these as Christmas and birthday presents, and for a short time they are all of Callas I owned. Understandably, I got to know those recordings very well as I listened to them over and over again. The next step was to scour various record shops for imports and second hand copies until EMI, around the time of her sad, and no doubt ill advised, final concert tour started to reissue all her recordings. From that day to this, Callas's studio recordings have remained a mainstay of the EMI catalogue, and will no doubt remain so, in whatever format we are listening to music in the future.

In retropsect, I now think that I was lucky, however frustrating it would seem at the time, because each recording I got my hands on, was seized on like manna from heaven, and it also gave me time to really listen and get to know both the performance and the work before moving on to the next one. I can say that, without exception, if there was a Callas recording of a work, it was that version through which I discovered the work, and Callas became an invaluable guide in my discovery of the Italian opera repertoire. Subsequently, of course, I listened to and acquired other performances of certain works, but, whatever their merits, there was always something personal Callas would bring to a role, that would be missing from these other (sometimes more generally recommendable) versions.

You have a fantastically rewarding journey ahead of you.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on April 06, 2009, 09:43:10 AM
Yes, she has spoilt me for other singers in certain roles. It is a dangerous addiction. Like you I got her discs well spaced out in time.


Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on April 06, 2009, 03:23:20 PM
My first exposure to Callas' voice was from  radio programs around 1970-1. My first ever disc of hers (about the same time) was the first Callas à Paris album. It was - and still is - one of the most extraordinary vocal recitals ever made. It didn't show Callas in roles she was best known for (Verdi, Bellini, Donizetti, Puccini), so in a sense she had the field unto herself with her renditions of Berlioz. Gluck, Bizet, Massenet et al. In these arias, she husbanded her vocal resources to stunning effect, letting in some squally top notes for the sake of dramatic truth. The second Callas à Paris album was a mixed success - something recognized by EMI when they reissued half of it along with the whole first album later on (cashing on the rekindled fervor aroused by her last recitals tour).

Lest that sound like gawky drooling from a finished fan, I've always said that she even made the rests between phrases become alive with meaning. To this day, I yet have to encounter such time suspending, throat choking pauses as those she used in the last phrases of Iphigénie's aria (Ô malheureuse Iphigénie), or the hyperventilating erotic little gasps she inserts in Marguerite's lament (D'Amour, l'ardente flamme), at "Je suis à ma fenêtre") or the devastating outpouring of sexual tension she lets go at "Ô caresses de flammes". Goose bumping stuff then, and it still is as I write about it.

For the record, there maybe an instance or two (no more) of less than perfect french pronunciation - which is way better than what most natives achieve,
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 07, 2009, 12:36:46 AM
LP, I am reminded of RO's review on the occasion of the first reissue of this disc in 1982, which included the first ever release of Dalila's mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix) (but not Marguerite's D'amour l'ardente flamme, or Iphigenie's lament, both of which are from the second French recital, recorded in 1963).

The last of the Dalila items (Dalila, like Carmen, passionate, alluring, and, in Callas's rendering, intensely vulnerable) is new to the catalogues. It's the duet which our grandmothers knew as "Softly awakes my heart". Callas is glorious; and as there's no Samson on this recording it's left to us, at the appropriate moments, to touch in, with gratitude and affection, the adoring asides. Records like this change people's lives.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on April 10, 2009, 06:25:17 PM
Tsaraslondon
I may have to scale back and possibly sell some of the live Callas versions........I didn't realize the sound was so bad, makes it almost impossible to enjoy the great Callas vocals during her prime years, for instance the live 1951 Mexico Aida:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41JPSYAK8HL._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

How do you listen through such a poor sounding performance?
I am used to listening to historical orchestral Cds so I have a tolerance built up, but this is just too much...........




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on April 10, 2009, 07:52:52 PM
And yet, this version exhibits a real one-off, Callas surging above the assembled choruses and full orchestra at the climax of the Triumph scene with an eye-popping,  jaw dropping fortissimo High E flat. I don't think this has ever been attempted since (although it was done before). Personally I prefer to dip into these atrocious sounding live recordings strictly for the vocal thrills or sublime vocal moments. The 24 disc Membran anthology covers a lot of those and judiciously zooms on those fantastic moments. It's easy to find at a very good price and it has extraiordinary notes by Jûrgen Kesting.

The sound - and often the rest of the cast - is really so bad that it is dishonest to be present these performances as more than a curiosity.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on April 11, 2009, 03:50:50 AM
Callas surging above the assembled choruses and full orchestra at the climax of the Triumph scene with an eye-popping,  jaw dropping fortissimo High E flat. I don't think this has ever been attempted since (although it was done before).

Attempted, certainly, though I can't guarantee the results were as as eye-popping and jaw dropping.  There's a youtube video of Aprile Millo doing it in a performance at the Arena di Verona:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3tZAKBkMT4  There are links from that page to the 1951 Callas Mexico City version (of course, there's no video of that performance).

There was a thread on the subject at another board some time ago that mentioned another soprano or two who'd attempted it.  I think one was Lucine Amara, but I could be wrong.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on April 11, 2009, 07:11:08 AM
It was very brave of Millo to sing the note. She cuts it off a bit quickly I think she was turning sharp, a situation that would have caused a bad crack in the voice. anyhow, it's very well done, but clearly not on the same level. Callas keeps it up at full volume for a full 6 seconds - a giant pedal note, but in altissimo, something entirely different from the usual and much easier E flats that many sopranos achieve routinely in Traviata, Lucia, etc - well, you know, the standard Sutherland repertoire.

These youtube videos are really addictive. Checking that Aida clip leads to Callas' own take on the Triumph scene, and then to a hair-raising clip from the 1949 Nabucco (fantastic conducting and singing), a Sonnambula (no date given) where she sails up to a silvery high E flat, diminishes the note and lands gracefully back on the vocal line in one breath.  Caramba!  :o :o

What's important though is the extraordinary artistry behind everything she sings. I don't think her musicality has been equalled in most of the the roles she sang.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 25, 2009, 09:54:48 PM
I don't remember if this particular recording of Traviata with Callas in 1953 (seemingly a studio one in Turin) has been discussed but it was a pleasant surprise for me to take it out again. I usually reach for the Lisbon perfomance with Alfredo Kraus. Recorded live in 1958, the latter gives ample evidence of 5 more years of her developing the role and varieties of nuance, especially delving into the chest tones from the very beginning. (I read '58 though was the last time she appeared on stage with it.)  Her tone here was unwavering, showing the sweet and vulnerable side of Violetta that no doubt endeared Alfredo to her in the first place. (I didn't actually like some of the clips on youtube from '58 where she passes the line into verismo, too much for my taste.)

Quite outstanding was the warm, engaging tenor, Francesco Albanese, who according to the insert was born in 1912. His voice showed maturity and stability, with a kind of darkness in the tone that was very attractive, not strident in the least, as sometimes happens with di Stefano and even Domingo.  I really enjoyed listening to him.

Gabriele Santini, the conductor, born in 1886, was excellent. He had quite a career in opera, once a assistant to Toscanini and his accompaniments showed it, clear, subtle, forecful when needed, also considerate of the singer as in the intro to the tenor aria in Act II.  Those were certainly serious opera conductors then.

I liked particularly the harp at the end of Violetta's and Alfredo's first duet and the syncopated violins at the end of the chorus scene when they are leaving Violetta's apartment. (I guess I am a little nutty, noticing things like this, but all these years I more or less concentrated on the vocal parts almost to the exclusion of everything else.)

I can't understand why Flora is usually cast with a wobbly, ugly voice most of the time. But this is probably true to character.  Even Germont, Ugo Savarese, born in the same year as the tenor, sounded much older than him because of the usual uncertainties of pitch that usually plague this role.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 26, 2009, 08:36:45 AM
Thanks for this post, ZB" The 1953 Violetta you refer to is pprobably the one she recorded on the Cetra label (EMI couldn't have in in Violetta because of some contractual problems - I wonder which though  ???). That's probably why the secondary roles were not cast from strength, which is a pity. A great performance form the principals is not necessarily a recipe for a great recording. Personally I've always felt the 1958 Lisbon performance uneven, even for Callas. I'll try to get hold of that 1953 recording.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 26, 2009, 10:34:35 AM
Thanks for this post, ZB" The 1953 Violetta you refer to is pprobably the one she recorded on the Cetra label (EMI couldn't have in in Violetta because of some contractual problems - I wonder which though  ???). That's probably why the secondary roles were not cast from strength, which is a pity. A great performance form the principals is not necessarily a recipe for a great recording. Personally I've always felt the 1958 Lisbon performance uneven, even for Callas. I'll try to get hold of that 1953 recording.

The recording is from Cetra put out by "Dino" Classics. It is quite a consistent and convincing performance overall.

Looking back over the thread (to see if there were a discussion of this performance) I found the link to Constanza's aria from the Abduction done by Callas in Italian. I heard it before and something bothered me about it, that I finally discovered why after hearing Sutherland. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk7vgxixk1A

Someone mentioned that having to play classical sonatas on the piano may have prompted a remark that "some of Mozart's music is boring" by her. Indeed, if one learns such music according to the traditional Czerny-Hanon exercise punching-out-every-note (that is stylistically wrong anyway), sure it becomes not only boring but unbearable. Sutherland has a much wider range of expression. The scales are lighter (the way they should be on the piano as well) and the overall structure is seen through the notes, not the individual  notes obscuring the lines.

I actually had a voice teacher in 1982 who told me I had to get over my piano habits.
ZB

 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 26, 2009, 03:47:42 PM
I don't remember if this particular recording of Traviata with Callas in 1953 (seemingly a studio one in Turin) has been discussed but it was a pleasant surprise for me to take it out again.
ZB

This was the recording, by which I first got to know Callas's Violetta, and, indeed the opera itself. I had it on LP, and was very satisfied with it, until I heard the live Giulini/La Scala from 1955 and the 1958 Covent Garden performance. These are the two I now have on CD. I have heard the Lisbon performance a couple of times, but, for me, it doesn't match the special quality of the London performance, which I find the most all round satisfactory of all her recorded Traviatas, not just for Callas, but for the opera as a whole. Being a BBC Third programme boroadcast, it is also in far better sound than both the La Scala and Lisbon performances. I assume it must exist somewhere in the BBC archives, so it has always been a mystery to me why it has never appeared either on EMI or the Royal Opera House's own Heritage series.

Of all the roles in Callas's repertoire, it is the role of Violetta, which constantly underwent a refining of her art, and there are extant recordings of her in the role from Mexico in 1951 (6 months after she had first sung the role in public), right up to the Covent Garden performances of 1958,  just four months before her final performances in the opera in Dallas later that year. The Cetra recording represents her early thoughts on the role, before she really got to grips with it, and, as such I find it somewhat uneven, though, simply as singing, there is much that is glorious. In the Giulini performances of 1955, one can feel the hand of Visconti, who directed the production, and, as a consequence, the role is much more thoroughly thought through. What lets this performance down badly is Bastianini, who, though he sings with wonderfully firm tone, is rather too generous with it, and pays little heed to character or intent. It is little short of a miracle that Callas is able to do so much in the long Act II duet, with so little coming back from her partner. Fortunately the Germont in the London performances is the excellent Mario Zanasi, who gives us a most sympathetic Germont. Valetti is a non pareil of an Alfredo, and we have Marie Collier, no less, as Flora. Rescigno brings sanity and song to the performance, and Callas, by now, has fined the role down to essentials. Though the voice is certainly not what it was in 1951, or even 1953, she nonetheless makes a profound effect in the role, and it is, musically at least, one of her most telling interpretations. This is the recording of  La Traviata I return to most often.

On the subject of Martern aller Arten, ZB, I find myself in sharp disagreement with you. Though Sutherland makes a prettier sound, with a lovely, flutey sustained top C at the aria’s climax, I feel she works within a much narrower range of emotions, and find her singing far less responsive to the dramatic situation. To be honest, after Callas I find it beautiful, but, as I often do with Sutherland, rather dull. Callas’s performance brims with fire and defiance, as it should, and yet she manages to sound feminine and vulnerable at the same time. Technically, notwithstanding a somewhat sour sustained top C, it is a tour de force, the final scale passages sung at a speed that would defeat many a smaller voice, faster even than Sutherland. The only other performance I know which comes close is Schwarzkopf’s of 1946, though the coloratura is not so easily voiced. Callas may have once said she found the music of Mozart boring, a remark that will no doubt dog her for ever, but, whatever her faults, I doubt she ever delivered a boring performance, even of Mozart's music.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 26, 2009, 05:53:53 PM
Thanks, Tsaras. If the Covent Garden performance ever comes to commercial life, I will certainly look into it.

I wholeheartedly concur with your assessment of Callas' Tutte le torture (but not, as you probably recall, of her other Mozart roles ;)). Callas sang this aria (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLx9oaEDFDE) as if she not only owned it, but rejoiced in its extraordinary vocal demands - as well as flawlessly projecting the charater's toughness and mischievious assumption of womanhood. The famous Callas wobble is to be heard in the upper portion of the middle register (typical of a verdian soprano), but her upper register is simply glorious: pure, shining brightly and cutting like a diamond. There's no doubt that the italian language considerably softens the aria's pole-vaulting textual pyrotechnics. Worth noting, too, is how Callas does full justice to the role's unusual demands in the low register !

A little detail: I'm no musician, but from what I hear, I've always thought Konstanze's highest notes were Ds or even D sharp. They *sound* so high and so difficult. But as I write this, I hear in my mind Turandot's 'qual grido' (a high C) and there's no doubt it's the same note. I guess that's Mozart's genius !

I don't think there's been a more brain-frying "Martern" than Edda Moser's.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcKmyhruQjU). It's not just a matter of vocal ability, but the artist's extraordinary identification with the text and fluency in the language (so many consonants, each one giving a rythmic impetus to the vocal line: compare 'jede qual und not' and 'ordne nur, gebiete!' to their italian equivalent). Again, listen to Moser's extraordinary textual awareness in her rendition of the aria. Mozart knew what he was doing when he set a text to music, whether it was italian or german...

Sutherland (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NKL6hE3Szs&feature=related) sang the aria both commercially and in concert, a sure sign she relished the part (she could have sung whatever she wanted, just like Nilsson, who was allowed to do I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady (!!) as an indulgence without having the concert organizer cringe or wince (they would have had good reason to). Forget about any textual nuance, Sutherland could be singing about her latest Sears mail order and that would be the end of it !

For those interested, a soprano that combines Moser's steely flamboyance and Sutherland's ruby-like velvet voice is Anneliese Rothenberger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TycLoh-HJk&feature=related). She is so minx-like and silvery in tone as to make you forget Konstanze is one determined lady you wouldn't want to have an argument with... :). Note: this live performance is different from the commercial EMI Entführung. I particularly relish seeing as well as hearing the combination of stunning visual elegance and effortless vocalism on display here.

For even more stunning vocalism bordering on the circus act, the incredible  Cristina Deutekom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gq8sQjIVgQo&feature=related) has it all: an even register from the low to the high and highest reaches, as well as her trademark eye-popping yodel on rapid coloratura runs. Throughout it all, she seems cheerful as an overeager puppy. Although she sings the aria in the original German, you'd be forgiven to inquire about  it. No match for Moser's frightening resolve, but what a vocal blast!

I know this is about Callas, but for those interested in Martern aller artern, sample Lois Marshall - from the Beecham EMi recording - and the surprising Eleanor Steber (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOWt73caZsg&feature=related), singing in English, with spunk, fullness of tone and absolute techical confidence. Which brings me back to Callas: Steber was a great Mozart and Strauss singer, and hearing her here as Konstanze in 1947 makes us understand Callas was not a freak vocal show, but simply an uncommonly intelligent and understanding singer  - much more so than was common in her day. One last comment: Schwarzkopf's may be a cunning imitation, but she's no substitute for the real thing. Plus (or is it minus?), she distorts the line and dynamics to indulge in fussy flights of vocalism that flatter her beautiful, silvery high register.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 26, 2009, 10:22:00 PM
Thanks for the links to the Marten aller Arten--nice summer listening. Elenor Steber's approach and mastery of vocal technique is similar to Sutherland's and I don't think anyone would accuse the former here of a lack of expression. She doesn't go outside the frame of Mozart's composition that includes four solo instruments, resembling more a concert aria.

Together with the conventions of the musical lanugage at the time, all of the preceding is plenty to carry the aria itself without adding verismo from the singer, squeezing more than is necessary or even desirable from the music. This is what I object to in Callas' performance.  (I can't stand Dessay's grimacing and overdoing Donizetti as well.)

I turned off pretty early Anneliese Rothenburger because her facial expression was so bland. Callas said in her master classes that you have to show the aria in your eyes before anything. This minimum I'm sure even Mozart would be happy with.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on July 27, 2009, 07:08:24 AM
I didn't even watch the Dessay clip. I don't go for that kind of obvious facial acting. If you just listen, what you hear is an excellent voice, but she misses the last ounce of sophistication and poise (Rothenberger) and regal bearing (Steber) that bring the piece to life.

It's an atrociously difficult aria to sing. That supreme mozartean, Margaret Price, unfortunately shows the chip in her armour, namely a lack of heft in the tone. Without that ingredient, the aria lacks dramatic projection and sounds too cautious.

Rothenberger's clip is obviously from a gala event, the kind of thing where you dress up and show your diamonds. She was much in demand in viennese operetta, and I think it shows in her approach to singing. No to detract from the singing per se, which is superb.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 27, 2009, 09:24:35 AM
LP

Thank you for all those clips. I listened to each one. I totally agree with you about Moser's performance, absolutely stunning, though I'm surmising the voice itself was a good deal smaller than Callas's or Sutherland's.

I found Sutherland more convincing here than in the studio recording with Molinari-Pradelli, but, though she bites into the aria a little better, I feel the emotion is still somewhat generalised.

Rothenberger's is beautifully vocalised and articulated, but, like ZB, I was put off by the non-expression in her face. She looks like a beautiful, china doll. Nice use of appogiature though.

Deutekom is a puzzling singer. She certainly has the scale of the aria, but I find her singing of the rising and falling scale passages rather odd. She separates all the notes, not with Bartoli's infamous aspirated h, but with a sort of w. One critic once likened it to yodelling, and I do see his point.

Here I inserted Schwarzkopf's performance and I now find it underpowered and agree with you, LP, that it is something of a cunning imitation. She achieves something similar in her recording of Leonore's Abscheulicher!, from Fidelio.

Steber has always been one of my favourite singers (her Les Nuits d'Ete is still one of the very best), and I found this version a piece of wonderfully poised singing. Technically, all the challenges are met full on, and she also makes something of the dramatic situation. However, when returning to Callas again, after all these ladies, I still feel that hers is the only rendition, with the exception of Moser's, that gives the listener a sense of the danger of the situation Konstanze is in. I once played this aria to someone blind, that is someone who had never heard it before. I played several versions in turn, before finally coming to Callas. Up until that point, he had enjoyed the aria, without having the faintest idea what it was about. Without understanding a word of Italian, from the Callas version, he was able to pick up the defiance, and even begin to appreciate something of the dramatic situation. If this is what you mean by squeezing more than is necessary or desirable from the music, ZB, then I am all for it. Opera is not just pure vocalise, it is drama after all. Nor do I think Callas's approach is in any way veristic. Does she apply chest voice or glottal stops and sobs, in the manner of many verismo sopranos? No, she achieves her goals well within the confines of the music. Her legato is pretty nigh impeccable, and the accuracy with which she sings the coloratura, at a fairly fast speed, is incredible considering the size of her voice. It is the wide tonal palette she uses that gives us a sense of the dramatic import of the music, but she does this without once upsetting the musical line.

Apologies for concentrating so much on Callas's performance, but this is a Callas thread after all.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 28, 2009, 06:47:41 AM
First the disclaimer: Maria Callas was one of the most important singers not only in the 20th century but for all time. Because of the intensity of expression, the innate musicality, the commitment, the special timbre, the courage to go beyond the notes and much more, music is forever indebted to her.

Now for the gritty details: if a soprano would sing the whole role of Konstanze in
such a manner she would suffer the dubious distinction of heroically losing her voice that very night. (This already happened with a famous soprano whose swan song was belting out Maria Stuarda.)

I don't remember just now who it was, maybe Rachmaninoff, who said that one can express the music by changing tempi, but how much more difficult to so without.
For sure the intensity of the tone is something that pianists don't have up their sleeves as a means of expression, but a main stock in trade for singers. 

But there are other means as well: the words, the HOW of the phrasing, contrast and  even understatement (simmering but not necessarily explosive fury).

The best opera composers in the 19th century, Rossini and Verdi, for instance, were very considerate of the singers. Even though the role of Violetta is quite formidable, the build up and spacing of high notes is quite intelligent. Rossini's music is SO vocal friendly. And this doesn't mean that Mozart isn't.

The classic style is more formalized.  The conventions of the Baroque Affekt were still in effect, like the emotional associations of intervals like minor 2nds, etc.,  In other words, so much expression is built in the music, that is if you do it right.

I mentioned Dessay grimacing in Donizetti's Lucia, not Mozart, for me a huge distraction. And at least one recording of Callas in "Ah Non Credea" (Sonnambula) really crosses the frame of the music.  The first part is nice but the caballetta is completely overdone.

But over and above such relatively trivial complaints, I SO MUCH WISH I WERE A FLY ON THE WALL in the opera house when I listen to Traviata, Medea, Butterfly, Norma, etc. There are times when one can conjure up images from the expression. Maybe there are recordings in heaven's archives. Wouldn't that be NICE?

zamyra-byrd
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 28, 2009, 09:06:12 AM
if a soprano would sing the whole role of Konstanze in
such a manner she would suffer the dubious distinction of heroically losing her voice that very night. (This already happened with a famous soprano whose swan song was belting out Maria Stuarda.)



Just a small point, Callas actually did sing the whole role at La Scala for four performances in 1952 (unbelievably the first time the work was ever staged at La Scala). Unfortunately no recording exists.

I'd also make a point about the production of La Sonnambula that Callas sang in. She only ever sang in Visconti's production, which was seen for two seasons at La Scala, at Cologne and in Edinburgh. This was what might be called a concept production now, the idea being that Callas was playing a prima donna playing the role. Not that that made much difference to Callas, who never for one moment sounds as if she is playing a role, so touchingly does she inhabit the very being of the young innocent Amina. However, when she sang Ah non guinge!, the cabaletta to Ah non credea, Visconti brought up all the houselights and had Callas come right down to the footlights and hurl the cabaletta into the audience, no longer Amina, but now Callas, the prima donna assoluta. This might explain your reactions to the recording you heard. It is especially evident in the Bernstein performance of the prima. Later performances find the effect toned down somewhat.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 28, 2009, 10:56:56 AM
Just a small point, Callas actually did sing the whole role at La Scala for four performances in 1952 (unbelievably the first time the work was ever staged at La Scala). Unfortunately no recording exists.

Well, she must have had vocal chords of steel back then. It's just that there are SO many high and long notes in this just one aria (in contrast to one crowning Bb or any other notes up to and including an Eb by other composers), that some kind of planning can be done so as not to kill oneself.

Then again, Mozart had unusually virtuosic singers at hand, so wrote accordingly. His concert arias are like concertos for voice. I do wonder about the pitch, though, at that time, if it were lower by a half tone or more. So many of the passaggio problems hovering around the E-F for sopranos would become instantly easier.
ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 13, 2009, 12:12:20 PM
Callas sang this aria (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLx9oaEDFDE)

I really like how Callas goes on "urla, manda, pesta".  :D There's another Italian version on youtube sung by Leyla Gencer. I heard that once they even had the same vocal couch.
Surprisingly, the name of Leyla Gencer never appeared on this board, except this one time when I announced her death last year. Very sad. Although she was under-recorded, her fame was great, and she was indeed a diva. I think her pianissimi are second best to Caballe's.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 13, 2009, 05:09:29 PM
There could be a Gencer thread ! IMHO she was second only to Callas as a tragédienne in the italian repertoire. Listen to her Norma here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4A3iXRo3fE&feature=related) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bC4QUN6Hco&feature=related). Listen to the beginning of In mia man alfin tu sei: her Norma sounds overcome with emotion (and us with her!). Then listen to her take command of the scene and become the implacable, dangerous scorned woman (e Adalgisa !!). If your throat doesn't choke at hearing Norma's last scene here, nothing will. Present are her curious glottal attacks (many see this as a detriment) and almost hallucinatory identification with the character. One of the very best Normas, and a noble competitor to Callas in the role.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 13, 2009, 05:45:31 PM
I heard a couple of Norma's with Gencer, Simionato and Prevedi... and just recently listened to the first volume of her Myto recital, that's why I mentioned it here.

I remember that when Callas once was asked if Tebaldi was her rival, Callas said that just to be considered her rival Tebaldi had to sing Callas' repertoire... Gencer became popular in late fifties, but with her role range she could match Callas. Gencer sang roles from Tosca and Leonore to Gilda and Lucia, and had great success in the role of Queen Elizabeth in Roberto Devereux, as well as the same Queen in Rossini's Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra. Although I am not particularly thrilled with her coloratura, she was a noted Donizettiana, and I'd like to hear those recordings of Belisario and Caterina Cornaro some day... as well as the videos of Don Giovanni (where she plays Donna Elvira) and Il Trovatore with a tremendous cast: MDM (Mario del Monaco ;D), Bastianini, Barbieri.


Gencer said about Callas:

Quote
Maria had in her blood, in her veins, in her subconscious all the tradition of the Greek Tragedy. She was born that way.
She had in fact her best time during 10 years. That was very short. But it will continue for ever of course the "Myth of La Callas" because she did so much ! She was a magnetic force on stage, the others didn't exist anymore. It's a gift of Nature, a gift of God. It' a talent, a great talent.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Franco on August 13, 2009, 05:53:41 PM
I really like how Callas goes on "urla, manda, pesta".  :D There's another Italian version on youtube sung by Leyla Gencer. I heard that once they even had the same vocal couch.
Surprisingly, the name of Leyla Gencer never appeared on this board, except this one time when I announced her death last year. Very sad. Although she was under-recorded, her fame was great, and she was indeed a diva. I think her pianissimi are second best to Caballe's.

Just yesterday I posted a collection of seven of her roles that topped my Wish List - here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,13947.msg344629.html#msg344629)

These last two days I have been listening to Callas' 1960 Norma with Corelli, Ludwig, Zaccaria/Serafin.  Some people feel that her voice had deteriorated by this time, but I can't help but feel that this recording is one of the greatest Norma's ever.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 13, 2009, 06:04:28 PM
Just yesterday I posted a collection of seven of her roles that topped my Wish List - here (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,13947.msg344629.html#msg344629)

Ah, $27.98 for 7 operas with brilliant Gencer!! Impossible. Thanks for that. :D :D :D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 13, 2009, 06:51:49 PM
Ah, $27.98 for 7 operas with brilliant Gencer!! Impossible. Thanks for that. :D :D :D

Where? Where ??

Coincidentally, I've been catching up with a few days' posts wile listening to youtube clips of that 1960 Callas Norma. The voice was still there. Very much so. I'll have to investigate the complete set (never had it).

Listen to gencer and Olivero in Vissi d'Arte. For my money they rival Callas in the histrionic and vocal departments.

Although in the italian version of Mozart's Konstanze aria, nobody comes near Callas - even Gencer.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Franco on August 13, 2009, 06:54:26 PM
Arkiv Music (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=177193)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 13, 2009, 11:31:18 PM
I've just listened to the Gencer clips of Norma, that LP posted, and I agree with much that LP says. I find her, however, a much less musical singer than Callas. As Zamyrabird would no doubt point out, there is a little too much of the verismo  style creeping into her singing of this bel canto role. I have no doubt that this performance would have been absolutely thrilling in the theatre, but I find it lacking on a purely musical level.

Incidentally the 1960 Callas Norma was not only the first complete Callas set I owned, but also the first complete opera set I owned. My brother bought it for me, as a Christmas present back in 1970. For quite a long time it was the only opera set I owned, so I got to know the opera and the performance pretty well. In those days, I was less aware of the decline in Callas's voice, having nothing else to compare it with. However, though I have now come to regard some of the live performances (particularly Covent Garden 1952 and La Scala 1955) superior, I still find there are certain passages in the score more movingly represented here than anywhere else. I am thinking of her entry into the first Adalgisa duet (O rimembranza so touchingly and wistfully voiced), the way she shades her line in the second duet (Ah perche, perche almost more felt than sung), the exquisite tapering away of the line in Deh non volerli vittime, the baleful, chesty tone she uses for In mia man, and that sudden change of colour at pei figli tuoi. These are just a few of the passages I can hear in my mind's ear without listening to the recording. Were it not for the hard, strident quality at the very top of the voice when she puts pressure on it, I'm not sure that I wouldn't find it the greatest of all her Normas. In intention, maybe it is.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 14, 2009, 12:46:32 AM
There could be a Gencer thread ! IMHO she was second only to Callas as a tragédienne in the italian repertoire. Listen to her Norma here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4A3iXRo3fE&feature=related) and here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bC4QUN6Hco&feature=related). Listen to the beginning of In mia man alfin tu sei: her Norma sounds overcome with emotion (and us with her!). Then listen to her take command of the scene and become the implacable, dangerous scorned woman (e Adalgisa !!). If your throat doesn't choke at hearing Norma's last scene here, nothing will. Present are her curious glottal attacks (many see this as a detriment) and almost hallucinatory identification with the character. One of the very best Normas, and a noble competitor to Callas in the role.

A force to be reckoned with, Gencer must have been impressive onstage, and with quite a voice, especially in the upper range, very expressive there. By way of comparison, Callas didn't treat her middle range as being unimportant and neither did Bellini. The first few bars of the "tu sei" sung by Gencer don't have the punch or depth vocally that one would expect from such an endowed voice. The lower range is well exploited, even scary at times.

Yes, I agree, with "less musical" here than Callas.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 14, 2009, 01:23:13 AM
Further to the discussion:
Leyla Gencer on Maria Callas
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G2n_KkQtak&feature=related

Most of the short interview is translated below the film (other singers didn't exist) except for her saying at 51 while raising her eyebrows "je pense que je l'ai aussi" "grand talent, that I think I have also".
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 14, 2009, 08:46:59 AM
Arkiv Music (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=177193)

I actually looked up on Amazon - exactly same prices for the exactly same set.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 14, 2009, 08:56:28 AM
Most of the short interview is translated below the film (other singers didn't exist) except for her saying at 51 while raising her eyebrows "je pense que je l'ai aussi" "grand talent, that I think I have also".

Ha-ha-ha! ;D :D Well, in some of her recordings her vocal far from perfect, and she had problems with the bel canto style sometimes, however, what I read about her by the contemporaries states she possessed grandiose stage presence, and that is why was adored by many. I think, she refers to the talent of being a tragedienne there. This she had also, I agree.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 14, 2009, 09:21:09 AM
Yes, I agree, with "less musical" here than Callas.

Speaking of musicality, it seems, Callas topped them all, though she herself thought that Ponselle was the greatest. But Callas' musical supremacy does not prevent me from enjoying other singers, even if they are less musical or whatnot.
As Tsaraslondon once noted, Caballe at times tended to lay her voice just to display its beauty, having no dramatic intent behind it. Besides, I personally sometimes notice phrasing oddities and inflexion problems as well. Sutherland did not have oddities, but was always criticized for mushy diction, Te Kanawa - for crooning, but with all that I just can't deny the power they had in their voices, and little flaws should be forgiven.

And as for the bel canto style, we nowadays have Florez, Garanca, Dessay (ahem!), and other lads and gals who can sing high, produce long trills and florid passages... but I'd rather listen to Gencer's imperfect coloratura than to those all. This is just an odd marginal note.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 14, 2009, 09:21:29 AM
Sarastro, Thanks. I followed Andre's links and have listened to quite a few extracts. I have ordered the set, costing rather less from the Amazon marketplace. Most are not operas I would usually get hold of, but for such a small outlay, I will get a chance to listen to what was clearly an exceptional singer.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 14, 2009, 06:24:25 PM
I've made the purchase too. thanks for the tip for Amazon Marketplace, Mike !

I agree with you all about Callas' musicality winning over Gencer's. As I said, she is second to La Divina in that respect. ZB justly noted Gencer's habit of sometimes undersinging some phrases. I believe this was intentional, she would save her guns for the climactic phrases, chosen for maximum histrionic effect. Not exactly a musical choice I suppose  :D. But in the end, she remains one of the giants of italian opera singing. No question in my mind she outsings and leaves trailing in the dust most sopranos who have sung Verdi, Donizetti or Bellini in the past 50 years.

Sarastro rightly interprets Gencer's phrase about Callas: 'Je pense que je l'ai aussi' referred to 'une force magnétique sur la scène', which is 'un don divin, un grand talent'. Gencer bows to 'il mito', but only reluctantly. I guess if you don't have that kind of character, you're not a diva!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 14, 2009, 11:11:41 PM
I saw some comment or other, I think on one of the Youtube offerings....it went something like: 'Well, if both Caballe and Schwartzkopf went to her for technical advice, she must have been doing something right.' I have no idea what the source would be for this suggestion, but if true, it does indicate she was well respected. I really enjoyed the extracts from Norma; but the available CDs of her in it are currently at a premium. I can wait!

When listening, she often reminded me of Caballe with a heightened sense of drama.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 15, 2009, 01:03:20 AM
I saw some comment or other, I think on one of the Youtube offerings....it went something like: 'Well, if both Caballe and Schwartzkopf went to her for technical advice, she must have been doing something right.' I have no idea what the source would be for this suggestion, but if true, it does indicate she was well respected.
Mike

Somehow I doubt Schwarzkopf ever sought the advice of any of her contemporaries. It just doesn't chime with her character. Callas, on the other hand, did seek advice from Schwarzkopf, quite publicly on one occasion at Biffi Scala, and Caballe sought advice from Callas, though mostly about roles and repetoire, it would seem.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 21, 2009, 03:59:42 PM
D'amore al dolce impero (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYGRDIBAa0&feature=related) from Rossini's Armida. It is quite a famous recording, and despite its poor quality, the singing is brilliant and unforgettable.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 22, 2009, 01:03:23 AM
D'amore al dolce impero (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYGRDIBAa0&feature=related) from Rossini's Armida. It is quite a famous recording, and despite its poor quality, the singing is brilliant and unforgettable.

Thanks, Sarastro, I hadn't heard this version of the aria in years. I have her later 1954 recording (taken from a RAI radio concert), and, though that is pretty amazing by any normal standards, this 1952 performance is little short of miraculous. It is a from a fully staged performance of the role at the Maggio Musicale, Fiorentino, and, unbelievably, she learned the role in only 5 days!

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 22, 2009, 04:46:51 AM
D'amore al dolce impero (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=caYGRDIBAa0&feature=related) from Rossini's Armida. It is quite a famous recording, and despite its poor quality, the singing is brilliant and unforgettable.

Another live 1952 version almost 1 minute faster timing and nice slide show of La Divina
Could be same recording with orchestral intro cut back......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlcfOqVN8W8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlcfOqVN8W8)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 22, 2009, 07:21:48 AM
Another live 1952 version almost 1 minute faster timing and nice slide show of La Divina
Could be same recording with orchestral intro cut back......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlcfOqVN8W8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlcfOqVN8W8)

I'm pretty sure it's the same performance, if only because I'm also pretty sure that only one of that series of performances exists in sound.

After this I listened to Renee Fleming's version. It's actually technically pretty stunning, though, as usual, she now and again indulges in infuriatingly unstylish crooning, and, taken on its own merits, would no doubt bring the house down, which indeed it does. But (isn't there always a but?) there is little of Callas's almost insolent ease, nor her imperious command. I was much more impressed by Fleming's performance than I expected to be, given that I don't normally like her in Italian opera, but it didn't thrill me.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 22, 2009, 08:10:19 AM
I'm pretty sure it's the same performance, if only because I'm also pretty sure that only one of that series of performances exists in sound.

After this I listened to Renee Fleming's version. It's actually technically pretty stunning, though, as usual, she now and again indulges in infuriatingly unstylish crooning, and, taken on its own merits, would no doubt bring the house down, which indeed it does. But (isn't there always a but?) there is little of Callas's almost insolent ease, nor her imperious command. I was much more impressed by Fleming's performance than I expected to be, given that I don't normally like her in Italian opera, but it didn't thrill me.

Yes Renee Fleming as usual very smooth delicate delivery, lovely floated notes............but where is the dramatic intensity, the spontaenous passion

A more serious challenge to Maria's mastery is the very fine Caballe version here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qey1SCREubw (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qey1SCREubw)

The colortura varitions sound even better with Caballe, but again the dramtatic intensity of Callas often trumps all else overall

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 22, 2009, 10:15:38 AM
After this I listened to Renee Fleming's version.

Despite my disregard to Fleming (certainly not my singer), her version sounds quite good to my ears. The one from Pesaro'93. I wonder how she'll perform this role at the MET'10 after sixteen years.

There are other versions of this aria on youtube - Caballe's, Deutekom's, Anderson's, and even Larmore's (my least favorite, except this "death of belcanto" clip with Adelaide Negri).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 22, 2009, 10:17:09 AM
I have her later 1954 recording

Is it a full recording of the opera?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 22, 2009, 12:38:27 PM
Is it a full recording of the opera?

No, she only performed the complete opera at that one series of performances in Florence in 1952. The 1954 aria is from one of those Martini Rossi radio broadcasts, when she also sang Martern aller Arten (in Italian), Ombre legere, from Dinorah (also in Italian), and Depuis le jour, from Louise (the first occasion on which she sang in French).

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 22, 2009, 04:52:49 PM
I have 46 minutes of extracts from the 04.1952 performance (as well as a 1956 version of the aria). Even more astonishing than the coloratura are the astonishing power and purity of those immense leaps. The audience must have dropped its collective jaw in the theatre. I'll bet a few dentures were lost that evening.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 22, 2009, 07:23:58 PM
No, she only performed the complete opera at that one series of performances in Florence in 1952. The 1954 aria is from one of those Martini Rossi radio broadcasts, when she also sang Martern aller Arten (in Italian), Ombre legere, from Dinorah (also in Italian), and Depuis le jour, from Louise (the first occasion on which she sang in French).

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/411RARK4N1L._SL500_AA240_.jpg)

This excellent 2CD set has 1954 San Remo D'amore al Dolce, a goldmine of misc tracks made to compliment the live recital EMI series, $2 used at Amazon.
Also contains a 1952 Lakme Bell Song that has Callas hitting some thrilling high notes
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 23, 2009, 04:56:15 AM
Speaking of Callas' musicality, one of the outstanding attributes of her art was her uncanny ability to give musical meaning to those high notees. In italian opera they generally come at the height of an aria and in the cadenza (often a cabaletta in bel canto operas).  There are tons of singers who can nail a high C or E Flat, often with more beautiful tone than Callas. Sutherland for example made it a textbook demonstration of carefully, confidently building the harmonic progression and rythmic edifice to showcase the high notes. But La Divina had the unique gift of giving musical value and dramatic interest to those  stock conventions. By doing so, she takes us along the ride and makes it much more eventful. The high notes then acquire their real function: stun the listener and bring the scene to a showstopping conclusion.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 23, 2009, 04:41:39 PM
Speaking of Callas' musicality, one of the outstanding attributes of her art was her uncanny ability to give musical meaning to those high notees. In italian opera they generally come at the height of an aria and in the cadenza (often a cabaletta in bel canto operas).  There are tons of singers who can nail a high C or E Flat, often with more beautiful tone than Callas. Sutherland for example made it a textbook demonstration of carefully, confidently building the harmonic progression and rythmic edifice to showcase the high notes. But La Divina had the unique gift of giving musical value and dramatic interest to those  stock conventions. By doing so, she takes us along the ride and makes it much more eventful. The high notes then acquire their real function: stun the listener and bring the scene to a showstopping conclusion.

So, you say that no other singer other than Callas can actually bring meaning to a high note? I think that's quite a bold statement. As you can see, I like Callas, but I wouldn't go into extremes saying that other singers were not able to give "musical value and dramatic interest those stock conventions," although in many respects she was unique. However, there were others... and who knows what kind of quality Giuditta Pasta or Maria Malibran had... we just have no tangible evidence.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 23, 2009, 06:07:46 PM
I didn't write any such thing. Just read carefully.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 23, 2009, 08:47:58 PM
I re-read your post several times. According to Merriam Webster, "unique" means "being the only one," "existing as the only one or as the sole example." So, when I read that "La Divina had the unique gift of giving musical value and dramatic interest to those stock conventions," I understood it as she was the only one who could ever do it. I disagree.

But sorry if I misinterpret your point, I think I don't quite get it. ???
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Anne on August 23, 2009, 11:40:20 PM
Sutherland owes some of her high notes to her husband who made her believe she was singing lower notes when actually she was singing higher ones.

Pavarotti came to glory with the 9 high C's in Daughter of the Regiment.  I love to listen to that cd; it is so thrilling.

In I Puritani did he always sing falsetto on that F note or is there any place where he sang it normally?  Maybe it was an E?  I can't remember. 

That was the very first complete opera that I bought.  Being shocked at the sticker price of $40, I could see I would not be buying much music at that rate.  Fortunately I was able to conquer that problem.   0:)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 28, 2009, 10:18:09 AM
Sutherland owes some of her high notes to her husband who made her believe she was singing lower notes when actually she was singing higher ones.

I sort of doubt that a singer like Sutherland would be so fooled that she is not singing high C's.  ???
However, her husband was an excellent coach and if he was the one to convince her to be grounded (other teachers if they are good, say the same thing), then singing high would not be feel like straining--on the contrary.

As for the tenors, they have more to offer than high notes. Usually, the upper reaches in any kind of voice are not expressive by themselves, except for intense emotion balanced out by the rest of the pice or floating high C's like at the end of the first act of Boheme. But more to the argument, Callas' emotion laden high notes in Tosca come to mind. I don't think she ever sang any note without weighted consideration.

Two versions of Callas as Ophelia in the mad scene of Hamlet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dsEeX0ggZM&feature=related

In Italiano ("ai vostri giochi") Athens, 1957
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB7GEAm6RWo&feature=related

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 28, 2009, 05:34:25 PM
I sort of doubt that a singer like Sutherland would be so fooled that she is not singing high C's.  ???

It seems that she did not have perfect pitch. As far as I remember her book, A Prima Donna's Progress (http://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Joan-Sutherland-Donnas-Progress/dp/0895263742), Sutherland explicitly wrote that Bonynge deliberately played higher scales and she did not notice that until he told her.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 29, 2009, 02:16:37 AM
It seems that she did not have perfect pitch. As far as I remember her book, A Prima Donna's Progress (http://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Joan-Sutherland-Donnas-Progress/dp/0895263742), Sutherland explicitly wrote that Bonynge deliberately played higher scales and she did not notice that until he told her.

That's really weird. I'd like to read the book. Anyone who sings, and not even professionally, usually FEELS where the pitches are. Maybe this is even truer for those who don't read music. So "higher" and "lower" (which is not a real quality of pitch since we are talking about faster or slower vibrations) are sensations felt in the chest, head, etc. Lilli Lehman, in her own book about singing, even included a diagram of every note where SHE felt them.

I remember how horrible it was when an accompanist playing on an electric piano, didn't check the pitch before and was a third higher for the "Quando M'en Vo". I FELT it was wrong before recognizing the actual notes.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 29, 2009, 06:04:01 AM
Quando m'en vo lies quite high already, doesn't it? Singing it a third higher must definitely have been a challenge...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 29, 2009, 07:36:02 PM
I'd like to read the book.

I'm pretty sure you can check it out in the library. But on amazon this book costs as little as $1.22. ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lethevich on August 29, 2009, 09:36:17 PM
Speaking of cheap books, I notice that Amazon (UK, at least) marketplace has quite a few Callas biographies going for 1 pence. Are any of the following any good? I expect that her name attracts a lot of nonsense writing, making me unwilling to buy a book on the subject "blind"...

Maria Callas Remembered - Nadia Stancioff
Maria Meneghini Callas - Michael Scott
Callas: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Music - Anne Edwards
Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography - Anne Edwards (perhaps simple a retitle)
Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend - Arianna Huffington
Sisters: Life of Maria Callas - Jackie Callas
Maria Callas - Giandonato Crico
Callas - Stelios Galatopoulos
Callas: Portrait of a Prima Donna - George Jellinek
Maria Callas: A Tribute - Pierre-Jean Remy
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 30, 2009, 09:42:26 AM
Quando m'en vo lies quite high already, doesn't it? Singing it a third higher must definitely have been a challenge...

It was a minor third, so the first note was an F#. I was making faces at the accompanist so he adjusted it gradually back to the right pitch which was also horrible. A thread perhaps should be on "sabotage by accompanists".

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 30, 2009, 09:46:24 AM
Speaking of cheap books, I notice that Amazon (UK, at least) marketplace has quite a few Callas biographies going for 1 pence. Are any of the following any good? I expect that her name attracts a lot of nonsense writing, making me unwilling to buy a book on the subject "blind"...

Maria Callas Remembered - Nadia Stancioff
Maria Meneghini Callas - Michael Scott
Callas: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Music - Anne Edwards
Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography - Anne Edwards (perhaps simple a retitle)
Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend - Arianna Huffington
Sisters: Life of Maria Callas - Jackie Callas
Maria Callas - Giandonato Crico
Callas - Stelios Galatopoulos
Callas: Portrait of a Prima Donna - George Jellinek
Maria Callas: A Tribute - Pierre-Jean Remy

I think most of them are good, so one can start with almost any one. I did like Arianna's book, written soon after Callas' passing, having had the benefit of interviews with important people like her mother.

http://www.amazon.com/Maria-Callas-Arianna-Stassinopoulos/dp/034530179X
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 30, 2009, 10:00:55 AM
Speaking of cheap books, I notice that Amazon (UK, at least) marketplace has quite a few Callas biographies going for 1 pence. Are any of the following any good? I expect that her name attracts a lot of nonsense writing, making me unwilling to buy a book on the subject "blind"...

Maria Callas Remembered - Nadia Stancioff
Maria Meneghini Callas - Michael Scott
Callas: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Music - Anne Edwards
Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography - Anne Edwards (perhaps simple a retitle)
Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend - Arianna Huffington
Sisters: Life of Maria Callas - Jackie Callas
Maria Callas - Giandonato Crico
Callas - Stelios Galatopoulos
Callas: Portrait of a Prima Donna - George Jellinek
Maria Callas: A Tribute - Pierre-Jean Remy

In terms of a true appreciation of her art, as opposed to an account of the scandals that attached themselves to her life, I'd go for Michael Scott's book. He concentrates almost entirely on the great career and writes very little about the years in decline and the years of retirement (though he doesn't ignore them either).
Galatapoulos is also good, though more uncritical.
I read Jellinek's book a long time ago, and found it rather better than many biographies. It may have been updated, but Callas was still alive when I read it.
I also enjoyed Pierre-Jean Remy's book, more a fan's eulogy than anything else, but enjoyable none the less.
Crico's book is a short photgraphic book (lots of interesting photos, not much editorial)
I'd avoid the trashy Anne Edwards and the Nadia Stancioff account of the years she worked for Callas, ditto Jackie Callas's "Sisters".
Arianna Huffington's bbook is well written, but often goes for the sensational and she often prefers the tabloid version of events, rather than the true one.
In conclusion, if I were choosing just one book, it would be Michael Scott's. I don't always agree with his arguments, but it  is well researched, and, for once, we get the views of a musician, someone who truly understands music and what it was that made Callas great.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lethevich on August 31, 2009, 05:54:08 AM
The Huffington type is exactly what I was trying to avoid, thanks! I'll grab the Scott and Crico ones, as they should compliment each other well.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lilas Pastia on August 31, 2009, 03:10:53 PM
The Huffington type is exactly what I was trying to avoid, thanks! I'll grab the Scott and Crico ones, as they should compliment each other well.

I'm not sure. Authors rarely compliment each other.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on August 31, 2009, 07:00:00 PM
Hope this helps.

Very interesting, thanks Tsaraslondon. I would pick those with bare facts and constructive critics, not the ones about scandals or sniveling fanaticism. Though I hardy imagine how anyone can criticize Callas, rather than the vocal decline "due to bad technique" or timbre "ugliness". The latter two obviously come from lack of musical understanding and inability to think critically, imo.

Other than that, I also loved the passages and even entire chapter devoted to Callas in Gobbi's The World of Italian Opera. I don't think it was ever published in English, though, I personally read the Russian version, as well as Gedda's The gift is not free of charge, which seems to have been issued only in Swedish, German, and Russian. There, Gedda is quite bitching around Callas... but he also bitches about Caballe and other singers, slways stating how great he himself is along with suicidal thoughts. A very personal and insightful book though, I think I wouldn't have the guts to write something like this about myself for wide public.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 31, 2009, 11:07:45 PM
V

Other than that, I also loved the passages and even entire chapter devoted to Callas in Gobbi's The World of Italian Opera. I don't think it was ever published in English, though, I personally read the Russian version, as well as Gedda's The gift is not free of charge, which seems to have been issued only in Swedish, German, and Russian. There, Gedda is quite bitching around Callas... but he also bitches about Caballe and other singers, slways stating how great he himself is along with suicidal thoughts. A very personal and insightful book though, I think I wouldn't have the guts to write something like this about myself for wide public.

Gobbi's book was published in English. I remember reading it. The Gedda doesn't seem to be listed on Amazon, so my guess is that it wasn't, which is a shame, as, from what you say, it would appear to be an interesting read.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Sarastro on September 01, 2009, 08:14:02 AM
Gobbi's book was published in English.

There are two books by Gobbi: The World of Italian Opera and My Life. The second exists in Italian and English only, as far as I know. Which one did you read? The World of Italian Opera is not too long and each chapter talks about one specific opera and stories Gobbi had with them. Callas appears in the "La Traviata" one.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 26, 2010, 02:59:23 AM
I've just been listening to Rigoletto with Callas and Gobbi, and am newly amazed at the way Callas so completely inhabits the role of Gilda. It is not just a case of her lightening her voice, as much as the fact that the voice character she presents is so completely different from her Medea or Norma, or even her Amina. The miracle is that in the later acts, though this Gilda matures and becomes a woman, she doesn't just become Leonora  or Aida, she still remains firmly in character. Of course Rigoletto's heart lies in its duets for father and daughter, and it is here that Callas and Gobbi work so wonderfully together. Perhaps more than in any of the other sets they recorded together, it gives them the chance to work closely in harmony, the one completely in sympathy with the other. (What a tragedy that they never recorded Macbeth together).

Callas only sang Gilda on stage for one series of performances in Mexico in 1952. The performances were not a great success, and a  recording that exists of the prima suggests that it was not well prepared. Callas is actually a great deal more assured than her colleagues, though she is obviously still working out some of the roles niceties (a firmer directorial hand would probably not have allowed her the dizzying high E at the end of Caro nome, or the high Eb at the end of the quartet), but her lack of success in the role may have contributed to her decision not to sing it again. Who knows? Had she sung it more often, she may well have forced the opera world to rethink the role, much in the manner she changed perceptions of the role of Lucia di Lammermoor. We are lucky indeed to have her Gilda preserved on disc.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 02, 2010, 12:00:10 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlsioKE-cUs

Well, here is the link to Magda Olivero singing from Traviata. We have shifted this discussion, though I am not too sure it really belong specifically here, but anyway, I think it would be interesting to discuss this issue of pure sound versus expression.

I enjoyed the Olivero clip a lot. Yes there are a couple of smudges across fast notes and occasionally runs are more picked at than sung through, but I enjoyed this immensely. I found watching the mimed-to video distracting when I was trying to understand how she was producing the sound.

I can see she would be increasingly effective as the opera moves on and she can make the exact fragility of sound, well produced, that the final act needs.

As I was thinking about what I had heard, Youtube automatically moved on to the following.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtRoHckKoiw&a=VhqLD4HPSuk&playnext_from=ML&playnext=1

At 83 she produces a performance that transfixes. Of course the voice does not behave as it once did, especially the lower third which becomes hollow; but what is there is remarkable in terms of what remains of the voice...the high notes!!! More than that is the intensity.

Here is the style of the piece illustrated as a masterclass for us. She shapes it, she varies tone colour, she produces frisson and dramatic punch. It is a little macabre to watch, but what a lifetime of artistry is wrapped up there. I much prefer to hear something committed but perhaps flawed than to listen to a perfect voice that has nothing to say.

Tebaldi has never been a favourite of mine. I find her expression to be generalised and the drama can seem superficial, rather than felt. However, a few years ago I came across some early recordings, before she became famous. Here there was a freshness and she was really using the words. Absolutely wonderful. So, what happened? Why did words then take a comparative back seat?

Much the same happened to Sutherland, whose verbal acuity can be heard in her very earliest recordings,. but not often subsequently. Smoothed out to protect the bel canto line and sound. Swings and roundabouts.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 02, 2010, 10:48:51 AM
Perhaps Magda Olivero should have a thread of her own.

The pathos and vulnerability of Butterfly here sound like she was on the verge of giving up after 3 years, a desperation I don't remember hearing from anyone else:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMdV_BDWVNw&feature=related
A singer that reminds me of her in spirit and practice is Claudia Muzio.

Some commenters on different clips wrote they didn't like the quality of the voice very much. I was surprised to read she did mostly verismo roles as usually heavier voices are associated with them. (Being possessed of a light voice myself, I was told never to sing even some arias like those of Santuzza, Amelia, etc.) This may be the reason the voice sounds somewhat metallic when the volume is revved up with a hint of vibrato creeping in.

Her messa di voce is quite fantastic, a technique hardly used or understood these days. To make a swell on a high C, well, that's real mastery. Anyone can blast out high notes but few can control them.  Her diction and dramatic timing are very fine as well.

ZB

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 03, 2010, 12:02:32 AM
I agree with all of that, she is terrific in that extract. Shame the sound quality is so awful, but she shines through. I also hear echos of Claudia Muzio, who was a clear and obvious influence on Callas. Muzio is another underrepresented and underappreciated singer.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 03, 2010, 02:54:22 PM
I also hear echos of Claudia Muzio, who was a clear and obvious influence on Callas.

Mike

I know what you mean, Mike, but there is little to suggest, in any of the books I have read, that Muzio was an influence on Callas. The greatest influence on Callas was more probably Ponselle, whom she revered above all other singers. In fact, in her masterclass on Elvira's aria from Ernani, she tells her student to seek out the Ponselle recording, citing it as the best extant version of the aria. Actually, though Ponselle is a deal more secure, Callas sings the aria with more grace and elegance.

Interestingly Walter Legge apparently suggested that Callas study with Ponselle, when she first started having vocal problems. Callas apparently said, "No way! She started out with much better material than me."

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 03, 2010, 11:45:40 PM
The only thing I am going on is my ears. It was the exact experience I  had when hearing the music of Mehul for the first time. There were the fingerprints of the orchestral sound of Berlioz, yet he predated Berlioz.

The voices are not to be mistaken for one another, but I hear some distinct similarities in the way they use words, making specific words count. Also some of the phrasing and the use of the chest register, the intensity. I am not suggesting Callas was any less of an original than was Berlioz. But each heard what they heard, absorbed it and produced a transformed end result.

This recording is the 1935 Columbia recording.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxVZL_frj20

Muzio, all references to the later Callas apart, had an unusual verbal acuity and coloured the words very carefully. What I get from this is an ability to mold the line, it becomes plastic, without being at all damaging to the music. Very few singers do this. The reading is highly detailed.

Here is another very great singer in the same aria.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ObFzgwlglo&feature=related

Oddly enough, like Muzio a forshortened career through ill health. Here the words are certainly well used, but there is not the variety of tone coloring and despite it being at a slower tempo, the ebb and flow, the plasticity of Muzio is missing. But this is a type of voice and a performance which it would be hard to find today

Finally, Tebaldi. The right voice and great singing, (top note apart), but I miss the 'face' I like so much with some other singers. It is classical in the approach, but I don't find it memorable.  I want memorable and will take the flaws with that experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1SM6AnP2Cg

Mike







Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 06, 2010, 07:48:12 AM

This recording is the 1935 Columbia recording.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxVZL_frj20

Muzio, all references to the later Callas apart, had an unusual verbal acuity and coloured the words very carefully. What I get from this is an ability to mold the line, it becomes plastic, without being at all damaging to the music. Very few singers do this. The reading is highly detailed.

Here is another very great singer in the same aria.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ObFzgwlglo&feature=related

Oddly enough, like Muzio a forshortened career through ill health. Here the words are certainly well used, but there is not the variety of tone coloring and despite it being at a slower tempo, the ebb and flow, the plasticity of Muzio is missing. But this is a type of voice and a performance which it would be hard to find today

Finally, Tebaldi. The right voice and great singing, (top note apart), but I miss the 'face' I like so much with some other singers. It is classical in the approach, but I don't find it memorable.  I want memorable and will take the flaws with that experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1SM6AnP2Cg

Mike

I'll start with the last first. Tebaldi was really boring here visually and vocally, in an aria about the death of a mother in a fire, no less. Somehow I can appreciate her better when hearing only audio recordings.

From Tsaras' post  about Ponselle, "Callas apparently said, "No way! She started out with much better material than me." Tebaldi had a golden set of chords, but I'm not sure she exploited them to the hilt. 

Whereas Ponselle had a Strad of a voice and it is evident here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXix1jvkEnU&feature=related

"O del mio amato ben" by Stephano Donaudy is rather uncomplicated piece of music but Ponselle above and Muzio below wrench so much expression out of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6gr-GVSLOw

And as for raw material, Callas' voice may have been troublesome to herself at times but it was a great instrument with a special timbre.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 06, 2010, 01:05:43 PM

Ponselle had a Strad of a voice and it is evident here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXix1jvkEnU&feature=related

"O del mio amato ben" by Stephano Donaudy is rather uncomplicated piece of music but Ponselle above and Muzio below wrench so much expression out of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6gr-GVSLOw

And as for raw material, Callas' voice may have been troublesome to herself at times but it was a great instrument with a special timbre.

ZB

The Ponselle, recorded I believe at her villa after she had retired, is certainly impressive, but the Muzio is something else. The piece is, as you say, rather uncomplicated, but Muzio makes it a thing of veiled sighs and tears, almost unbearably moving. I've heard many versions of this song, but I have never heard a better one.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on July 11, 2010, 05:16:36 AM
Can't believe these videos haven't been posted here yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuEmJZzuG9U
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZRssq7UlM&feature=related

Just awe inspiring stuff.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on July 11, 2010, 05:24:07 AM
And as hilarious and dispicable counterpoise this performance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7yb3dWhJs&feature=related

Maybe the worst singing of this aria I have ever heard! The most hilarious thing for me is the breathing, but virtually everything could (and should!) be faulted.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on July 11, 2010, 05:30:49 AM
Also what's the reasoning behind people saying that it is the light roles that hurt her voice more than the heavy ones? I remember Renée Fleming saying it somewhere, but I can't remember why she thought that was. Also why do people not believe Callas' own frank account of the decline?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: False_Dmitry on July 11, 2010, 05:38:01 AM
And as hilarious and dispicable counterpoise this performance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7yb3dWhJs&feature=related

In what language is she singing?   :o

Quote
the reasoning behind people saying that it is the light roles that hurt her voice more than the heavy ones?

I can't say I've heard of this before.  It might be that in the original context, the remark was made by someone who'd been badly miscast?  That's never good, of course.   A dramatic soprano would find it hard to sing a soubrette role.  But a solid vocal technique will see you through almost anything - providing that the tessitura isn't wrong for your voice in the first place.   Of course there's a big difference between what you can do if you absolutely have to, and the kind of repertoire and range that suits you ideally :)

Catherine Jenkins, for example, has a very nice C# in her voice.  If she could stick to that, and sing in English, everything would be fine. It's just those other notes that cause the problems.  And languages.  And acting.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on July 11, 2010, 06:08:37 AM
Catherine Jenkins, for example, has a very nice C# in her voice.  If she could stick to that, and sing in English, everything would be fine. It's just those other notes that cause the problems.  And languages.  And acting.

haha!

Just watching a Callas interview with Lord Harewood where she says that the Bellini and Donizetti roles are much harder in every way than the Wagner roles (apparently she sung Isolde and Brunnhilde in her youth!) which I found really interesting.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 11, 2010, 06:26:04 AM
Can't believe these videos haven't been posted here yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuEmJZzuG9U
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZRssq7UlM&feature=related

Just awe inspiring stuff.

I've known them for years, and have them both on DVD. The first is part of a concert from Paris in 1958, at which she also sang Casta Diva from Norma, D'amor sull'ali rosee and the Miserere from Il Trovatore, and the complete last act of Tosca, with Tito Gobbi.

The second is from a 1962 TV performance before a live audience at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She also sang Tu che le vanita from Don Carlo, and the Seguedille from Carmen. This DVD also includes the 2nd Act of Tosca, also with Gobbi, but filmed during the run of performances at Covent Garden in 1964. I think both DVDs are still available from EMI.

I always think it a great pity that the only documents we have Callas actually singing in opera, as opposed to in concert, are both of her in Tosca. The many silent snippets we have of her appearing in Medea are tantalising glimpses of what she must have been like in one of her great roles. What I wouldn't give to have seen her as Norma, Violetta or Lucia; Medea, Anna Bolena or Amina!

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 11, 2010, 06:26:30 AM
And as hilarious and dispicable counterpoise this performance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7yb3dWhJs&feature=related

Maybe the worst singing of this aria I have ever heard! The most hilarious thing for me is the breathing, but virtually everything could (and should!) be faulted.

I did not know she could sing that well. The payoff at the end was poor for certain and as she seemed to have no narrative in her head; it exposed the simple building blocks of the aria and it became boring.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 11, 2010, 06:29:27 AM
haha!

Just watching a Callas interview with Lord Harewood where she says that the Bellini and Donizetti roles are much harder in every way than the Wagner roles (apparently she sung Isolde and Brunnhilde in her youth!) which I found really interesting.

Lilli Lehmann, who sang in the first complete Ring cycle at Bayreuth, and who was also a great Norma, is quoted as saying that she would rather sing all three Brunnhildes in one night, than one Norma.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 11, 2010, 06:31:22 AM
I did not know she could sing that well. The payoff at the end was poor for certain and as she seemed to have no narrative in her head; it exposed the simple building blocks of the aria and it became boring.

Mike

It certainly wasn't as bad as I expected, but she didn't really seem to have much idea what she was singing about, so there was absolutely no sense of context.  It was just someone singing a pretty tune.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 11, 2010, 06:39:36 AM
Here is a forgotten singer, Berganza. She knows what to do with it, though there are a few little suspect notes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oby-hCgZLJc&feature=related

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Franco on July 11, 2010, 06:41:24 AM
And as hilarious and dispicable counterpoise this performance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7yb3dWhJs&feature=related

Maybe the worst singing of this aria I have ever heard! The most hilarious thing for me is the breathing, but virtually everything could (and should!) be faulted.

I wasn't so bad, IMO.  My complaint is that she is singing for the microphone, and even so seems to clip the phrases.  But the quality of her voice is nice.

Youtube placed a Callas clip from a concert recital with her singing this same aria with piano alongside the Jenkins one, and I don't know how old she is obviously much older than Jenkins - but the difference is striking.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on July 11, 2010, 06:58:22 AM
I wasn't so bad, IMO.  My complaint is that she is singing for the microphone, and even so seems to clip the phrases.  But the quality of her voice is nice.

Youtube placed a Callas clip from a concert recital with her singing this same aria with piano alongside the Jenkins one, and I don't know how old she is obviously much older than Jenkins - but the difference is striking.

Nice is about the highest compliment that one could give. She breathes virtually every bar which apart from sounding hideous (every one is a gasp) completely breaks any sort of flow. Thing is she never sings without a mic - ever. Her pronunciation of the French is absolutely atrocious as has been pointed out, there's no expression or emotion, she can't sustain a phrase, the intonation is generally ok but wavers when she has to sing high notes, the high notes themselves are poor. The whole thing just seems to be a struggle. She has always said in the past that this is role she would most like to portray on the stage and that mezzo's never mature until their early thirties anyway. Now that she is approaching that age one shudders to think how they're going to achieve this - obviously she'll still need a mic - I'm predicting that there'll be some sort of musical like overhall of the piece so that she can do it... like that recent redoing of Porgy and Bess that was a total flop.

Callas would have been 51 in that piano recital and the voice has declined enormously from the first recording I posted (1962), though of course it is still miles above Jenkins.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on July 11, 2010, 07:40:44 AM
Can't believe these videos haven't been posted here yet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuEmJZzuG9U (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuEmJZzuG9U)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZRssq7UlM&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZRssq7UlM&feature=related)

Just awe inspiring stuff.

Don't just watch the short snippets...............3 great performance DVDs available
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31bgdfdT9BL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/319IxsN9zCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413W6JeylHL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/512XRCJ22RL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000002RY1/sr=1-1/qid=1278862197/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music&qid=1278862197&sr=1-1)
 
Callas has so many great recordings of Rosina's aria Una voce poco fa, no one else does it better for me. The Hamburg recital version may be best on video with Maria being more playful as the character would be out smarting the men in ways of love. The CD version is absolutely wonderful also.
 
Callas did Carmen very late in her career, but the complete CD version is just great.......Callas is Carmen
 
There is a fictional movie called Callas Forever which retired Maria (Fanny Ardant) is approached to do film version of Carmen and lip sync with her complete audio recording done previously for the sake of future fans to remember her.......
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y7TAXKTDL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000002RXS/sr=1-1/qid=1278862609/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music&qid=1278862609&sr=1-1)    (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51AJ2Z3NN2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00092ZKZ4/sr=1-1/qid=1278862644/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=130&s=dvd&qid=1278862644&sr=1-1)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on July 11, 2010, 08:05:31 AM
I'll definitely consider them - there are so many opera DVDs that I want too though!

Apparently there are not one but two Callas films coming up:
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/57355,news-comment,entertainment,eva-mendes-and-penelope-cruz-both-up-for-maria-callas-film-role
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 11, 2010, 03:02:47 PM
I'll definitely consider them - there are so many opera DVDs that I want too though!

Apparently there are not one but two Callas films coming up:
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/57355,news-comment,entertainment,eva-mendes-and-penelope-cruz-both-up-for-maria-callas-film-role

A pity that both of them are to concentrate on her relationship with Onassis. Surely the interesting story is what made her great. By the time she met Onassis, her voice was already in decline. She had worked tirelessly, almost non stop at music and singing since she was a child. Is it any wonder that when the prospect of something different, and, on the surface, more exciting came along, that she would embrace it with open arms? Unfortunately her desire to be part of the glitzy Monte Carlo, and her love for Onassis, precipitated the decline. When the affair was over, her voice, and her confidence were in tatters, and it was too late to go back to the only thing that had really sustained her before she met him.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 11, 2010, 03:08:31 PM
Here is a forgotten singer, Berganza. She knows what to do with it, though there are a few little suspect notes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oby-hCgZLJc&feature=related

Mike

I'm not sure Berganza is forgotten - not by me, certainly.

This version has less charm, but is more dangerous.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlGTz0pSLS8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlGTz0pSLS8)




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on July 11, 2010, 08:35:18 PM
I, and the complete last act of Tosca, with Tito Gobbi.

Something's off there, unless Gobbi suddenly found he could sing tenor roles. 

Referencing Guido's comment--she started off as a dramatic soprano, and switched to bel canto only several years into her career.  There's a long description in the liner notes PDF of EMI's most recent reissue of her recording of Turandot; if I can do so, I'll post it tomorrow.
Ironically, she did not actually record Turandot until well after she had abandoned the role onstage, which was apparently one of her signature roles before she took to bel canto.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 12, 2010, 12:35:59 AM
And as hilarious and dispicable counterpoise this performance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a7yb3dWhJs&feature=related

Maybe the worst singing of this aria I have ever heard! The most hilarious thing for me is the breathing, but virtually everything could (and should!) be faulted.

If anyone has noticed, shortcuts to the top of classical singing are being attempted through the America/Britain/X''s Got Talent route. Those who couldn't get a foot in the door through other venues, let alone the Metropolitan Opera auditions shriek high notes while the audience swoons and  the judges exclaim "THAT was TERRIFIC".

There were two tenors last season, one worse than the other. Another mom trotted out a stentorian "O mio babbino caro" to the admiring countenances of her family and astonishment of everyone else.  And somehow like Jenkins, such appearances are supposed to be enought to jumpstart a career. Well, there's always Richard Clayderman, Emma Schapplin, etc., to pander to that kind of public.

I still prefer Callas' "Habanera"  (1962)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZRssq7UlM&feature=related

She doesn't have to jump barefoot all around the stage to get an effect. Baltsa sounds great when you don't look at her.  Berganza is a little too tame.  Callas has irony in her facial expression as well as voice.  Love is all a game for her Carmen.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 12, 2010, 02:12:16 AM
Something's off there, unless Gobbi suddenly found he could sing tenor roles. 


Sorry, I did of course mean Act II.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 12, 2010, 02:21:00 AM

I still prefer Callas' "Habanera"  (1962)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fZRssq7UlM&feature=related

She doesn't have to jump barefoot all around the stage to get an effect. Baltsa sounds great when you don't look at her.  Berganza is a little too tame.  Callas has irony in her facial expression as well as voice.  Love is all a game for her Carmen.

ZB
On balance I too prefer Callas. As usual, most of Callas's acting is in the voice and the eyes. She is very economical as to gesture, but then, she is singing in concert, which, in itself, is a different discipline form performing in costume and in a complete production. And of course, she never sang the role on stage.. Baltsa's performance worked much better when seen from the auditorium, where  distance lends enchantment. Close ups don't do her any favours - possibly something to do with the way she furrows her brow.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on July 12, 2010, 02:22:27 AM
Sorry, I did of course mean Act II.

Well, for Scarpia, that's the last act.   :D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 12, 2010, 10:15:27 AM
Just popped in to say that although I thought Berganza was good, Callas was a great deal more engaging. I have problems with this aria, as it usually sound like an endlessly repeated tapeloop. Some singers are better than others in varying the verses. But Callas managed to draw me in and it did not feel a moment too long.

Berganza forgotten. How many recital discs are there out there of her? Next to none if not actually none. She was not one to cultivate the limelight and no management company packaged her.

She was good, thoroughly musical and totally professional; but not to my ears exciting. But in her time, she was very highly regarded indeed. I know some of her sets with the likes of Abbado and Maazel etc are current; but not due to her presence.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on July 12, 2010, 04:27:11 PM
On the subject of Callas' career as a dramatic soprano, here is a precis included in the liner notes to EMI's most recent re-release of Turandot [Callas/Schwarzkopf/Fernandi/La Scala--Serafin] in their newest budget opera format ["EMI Classics The Home of Opera"--I suppose this means that when Opera goes on vacation, She stays at Universal]
excerpted as fair use:
Maria Callas sings Turandot

When Maria Callas arrived in Verona in August 1947 from New York, she had high hopes of becoming a
major star of the operatic stage. Although born in New York in 1923, she and her sister Jackie had been taken to Athens in 1937 by their Greek mother to get the musical education that was beyond the family’s financial means in America. In Athens, Maria received a solid and comprehensive training in the art of singing, first from Maria Trivella and then from the Spanish coloratura soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. It was Hidalgo who taught Maria the technique of bel canto singing in the florid music of Rossini, Donizetti and
Bellini, even though the young girl’s voice was large and seemed more suited to the dramatic soprano repertoire. Maria’s first student appearance in an opera was Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana in 1939, and her first major professional part after she joined the Lyric Theatre Company in Athens during the war was Tosca in 1942. Outstanding among the other roles that she sang in those days was Leonore in Beethoven’s Fidelio, so it seemed that she was after all destined to be a dramatic soprano.

Her engagement at the Arena di Verona was to perform the title part in La Gioconda, conducted by Tullio Serafin. It was the first time she had sung since leaving Greece in 1945 and returning to New York, where all her efforts to find work had proved fruitless until she was engaged to sing the lead in Turandot in January 1947 for a new company in Chicago. But the company went bankrupt a few days before its scheduled opening, and Callas was again unemployed until the offer came to sing in La Gioconda in Verona. The performances went well enough, but the expected offers of work failed to materialise.
However, there was help at hand in the person of Giovanni Battista Meneghini, a wealthy Italian industrialist and opera lover whom Callas had met when she first arrived in Verona and who was keen to further her career. An early audition at La Scala was unsuccessful, but Meneghini did manage to secure an engagement to sing Isolde (in Italian, as was customary in Italy at that time) in December at La Fenice, Venice, under Maestro Serafin.

In the early part of 1948 Meneghini continued to promote Callas around the Italian opera houses, but only in the heaviest dramatic parts, including Turandot in January and February in Venice, and then in March at Udine. In April she secured some performances of La forza del destino in Trieste; there followed Tristan und Isolde in Genoa in May and then Turandot in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome in July and again in Verona. September and October brought several performances of Aida in Turin and Rovigo, but by that time Callas was becoming disheartened at being typecast in such heavy dramatic parts and was seriously thinking of returning to the USA. It was then that she met Francesco Siciliani, who was just beginning his tenure as music director at the Teatro Comunale in Florence. A perceptive and cultivated musician, Siciliani had just moved to Florence after being artistic director at the San Carlo Opera House in Naples.  The meeting was to have momentous consequences both for Callas and for Siciliani, who immediately spotted the singer’s potential and invited her at short notice to open his new season as Norma, the role that she was to find most congenial as well as challenging (and would eventually sing more than any other).

Following two performances of Norma in Florence on 30 November and 5 December 1948, Callas’s next engagement was as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre under Serafin in Venice. While the performances were taking place, there was a crisis at the opera house: the soprano Margherita Carosio, who was scheduled to sing the coloratura role of Elvira in I puritani, became ill and no replacement could be found. Serafin asked Callas to undertake the part and, despite her misgivings about learning it at such notice, she trusted Serafin and accepted the challenge. The musical and dramatic effect of Callas’s performance in Bellini’s bel canto opera amazed the operatic world and instantly made her an international star. It was the turning point in her career and led the way to her later successes in the bel canto operas of Bellini, Donizetti and Rossini and in other neglected works.

After the success if I puritani, Callas’s career took off, but although her ability to perform bel canto operas in a theatrically exciting way pointed to a new direction for her stage repertoire, she still had a number of engagements to fulfil as a dramatic soprano, including more Wagner, with Die Walküre in Palermo immediately after the Venice Puritani, and taking on Kundry in Parsifal in Rome for the first time in February and March 1949. She sang her final performances of Tristan und Isolde in Rome in February 1950, and revisited Parsifal for a RAI radio performance in Rome on 20 and 21 November 1950. As to Turandot, Callas was glad to be able to leave behind this extremely taxing part with four performances in Naples in February 1949 and then four more in May and June at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

One of the rewards of Callas’s new stardom was that she attracted the interest of the Italian record company Fonit Cetra, and in November 1949 she was invited to make three double-sided 78-rpm records in Turin with the local RAI Orchestra conducted by Arturo Basile. The items chosen reflected Callas’s recent successes in the opera house, starting with ‘Dolce e calmo’, the Italian version of the Liebestod (‘Mild und leise’) from Tristan und Isolde; then came Norma’s introductory aria ‘Casta Diva’ (but without chorus) and its demanding cabaletta, ‘Ah bello a me ritorna’, and most of the Mad Scene from I puritani.


[There follows a discussion of Callas' recording career with EMI, including an unhappy (from Callas' viewpoint) digression into Cetra early on.  I pick up when the liner notes return to Turandot ]

By the end of 1956 Callas had set down definitive recordings for EMI of some 14 well-known operas, including several that she never sang on the stage (such as La bohème and Pagliacci). For 1957, it was decided to record Il barbiere di Siviglia in London and then to make three more in Italy. The Rossini would be Callas’s first complete opera in stereo, though unfortunately the new technology was not yet available in Italy. The first of the Italian trio was La sonnambula, recorded in March 1957 during a revival at La Scala of the Visconti production, which had been such a success in 1955. Then for July, Legge selected two contrasting Puccini operas: Manon Lescaut, which Callas never performed on stage, and her old warhorse Turandot. For the supporting cast of Turandot, Legge chose his wife, the distinguished German soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, to sing Liù, and for Calaf he engaged the Italian tenor Eugenio Fernandi, then at the start of an impressive but short-lived career during which he appeared at the Metropolitan in New York, the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival. It had been some eight years since Callas had last sung Turandot in the theatre, but she had no problem in the studio in recreating the icy Chinese princess for the microphone. In fact, it was the role of Manon Lescaut that presented more vocal problems for her, and the recording was held back for several years before being released, whereas the Turandot came out in the usual way and was greeted with enthusiasm by the critics and the public. The role of Turandot was one for which Callas first became known at the beginning of her career, when she gave some 24 performances in two years, and the recording is a fitting tribute to what remains one of her most powerful assumptions.

© TONY LOCANTRO, 2008

Beyond the Cetra 78 mentioned in the liner notes, are there any recordings of her singing any Wagner?  Was the Parsifal broadcast ever released in some public form, or is it still sitting (hopefully) in the RAI vaults?

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on July 12, 2010, 09:28:19 PM
There is a Parsifal which has Boris Christoff in the cast. It is live, in Italian, with so-so sound. I have never heard it. Apart from that and the end of Tristan, I don't think there is any other Wagner preserved.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=callas+parsifal&aq=f

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HEF4BMT5L._SS500_.jpg)

I assume this has to be from the Nov 1950 run of performances in Rome. It constituted her farewell to Wagner.

While looking for that information, I noticed that one of her first engagements, in Athens, was in the opera Tiefland, prior to that Bocaccio. I don't think either of them ever surfaced again.

The Parsifal is available through Amazon Marketplace sellers.

Thanks for slogging through typing all that. I had forgotten how difficult the start of her career had been. Interesting also that Serafin, who became a musical mentor to her, missed her potential first time round.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 13, 2010, 01:20:25 AM
It had been some eight years since Callas had last sung Turandot in the theatre, but she had no problem in the studio in recreating the icy Chinese princess for the microphone. In fact, it was the role of Manon Lescaut that presented more vocal problems for her, and the recording was held back for several years before being released, whereas the Turandot came out in the usual way and was greeted with enthusiasm by the critics and the public. 
[/i]
© TONY LOCANTRO, 2008



I don't suppose the liner notes for the recording would be the place to question Legge's wisdom in recording her in Turandot at that stage in her career. She does manage the demands of the role better than one might have expected in 1957, but the effort must have cost her dear, and is evident when she turns to Manon Lescaut, which followed, and in which, much of the time, she sounds utterly exhausted. The recording was followed by a concert in Athens in August, La Sonnambula in Edinburgh, where she caused a scandal by refusing to sing an extra performance which La Scala scheduled without her consent, and the studio recording of Medea. At none of these is she at her best. However by the time of a concert appearance in Dallas in November, singing arias from La Traviata, Macbeth, Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, I Puritani and Anna Bolena, the rehearsal for which was recorded, she is back on form, and the Un Ballo in Maschera at La Scala, which followed in December, is one of her most recommended live performances. In a role far more conducive to her than either Turandot or Manon Lescaut, she sings with refulgent tone and complete security.

I sometimes wonder if Legge, great recording producer though he was, ever really understood Italian opera. Much of Callas's recorded repertoire has little to do with her stage career. Puccini and verismo, played a very small part in it once she had made her name, and I am not forgetting Tosca, a role she actually sang quite rarely from the time of the famous recording (1953) until those last legendary performances in 1964 and 1965. She had even given up singing Aida long before the recording (1955) was made. She wanted to record Anna Bolena and Il Pirata, but he would only allow her to record a couple of arias. Even Medea, one of her most famous roles was farmed out to Ricordi. Legge would have nothing to do with it. It is unfortunate, for those who only know Callas from her studio recordings are likely to have a slightly skewered picture of her art. Joan Sutherland was fortunate in that Decca, and her husband Richard Bonynge, recognised early on what her metier would be, and recorded her in all her famous roles. Interestingly, after Callas died, EMI tried to repair Legge's omission, by issuing many of her live performances, which had hitherto only been available on pirate labels.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on July 13, 2010, 07:17:15 PM
There is a Parsifal which has Boris Christoff in the cast. It is live, in Italian, with so-so sound. I have never heard it. Apart from that and the end of Tristan, I don't think there is any other Wagner preserved.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=callas+parsifal&aq=f

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51HEF4BMT5L._SS500_.jpg)

I assume this has to be from the Nov 1950 run of performances in Rome. It constituted her farewell to Wagner.

While looking for that information, I noticed that one of her first engagements, in Athens, was in the opera Tiefland, prior to that Bocaccio. I don't think either of them ever surfaced again.

The Parsifal is available through Amazon Marketplace sellers.

Thanks for slogging through typing all that. I had forgotten how difficult the start of her career had been. Interesting also that Serafin, who became a musical mentor to her, missed her potential first time round.

Mike

No need to thank me.  Adobe put a "save as *.txt" function into PDF reader--don't know how long ago that was, but all I needed to do was let Adobe save into a text file and cut and paste from there.  No slogging required.

I have two recordings by that Virtuoso label.  One is the Callas London Tosca that EMI released eventually under their own name, and the other is a Siegfried (in German) conducted by Furtwangler with Svanholm and Flagstad, in a La Scala performance from 1950.  Sound quality is one rung down from abysmal on both--worse on the Siegfried than the Tosca.  Worse than the recordings I have from Opera d'Oro, which is bad enough. If this Parsifal is only so-so sound, that's an improvement over these two turkeys. 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 04, 2010, 01:51:19 AM
I think I have counted as many as 6 recordings of Medea by Callas - which one do the Callas experts consider the best? I don't know this opera at all (or anything by Cherubini)

Is there a modern recording that people like?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 04, 2010, 11:20:09 AM
I think I have counted as many as 6 recordings of Medea by Callas - which one do the Callas experts consider the best? I don't know this opera at all (or anything by Cherubini)

Is there a modern recording that people like?

As far as I know the original version of the score (in French with spoken dialogue) has never been recorded. I believe the only studio recordings  (apart from Callas) are Gwyneth Jones on Decca and Sylvia Sass on Hungaraton. All three of these use a hybrid version of the score, which uses an Italian transition and recitatives by the German composer Franz Lachner. However neither Jones nor Sass begin to challenge Callas's hegemony in the role. Here is a list of Callas performances that have appeared on disc at one time or another.

May 1953 - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino - Gui 
December 1953 - La Scala - Bernstein
September 1957 - La Scala/studio - Serafin
November 1958 - Dallas - Rescigno 
June 1959 - Covent Garden - Rescigno
December 1961 - La Scala - Schippers

Please also note that each conductor prepared their own version of the score, so they all differ musically in some way. Of these, the Schippers can quickly be discarded. Though there are flashes of the old Callas magic, she no longer has the requisite power and control to do the role full justice. The Covent Garden, with substantially the same cast as Dallas, enjoys better sound but is nowhere near as exciting as Dallas, so I would probably ditch that too. The Gui/Florence performance has a lot to commend it, and is interesting in housing Callas's first thoughts on the role, but the Bernstein is even better so I would probably end up ditching that too. The other 3 are all worth hearing.


The studio recording, not, as it happens, made for EMI (Walter Legge would have nothing to do with the project) but for the Italian firm of Ricordi is actually nowhere near on the same level as Bernstein or Rescigno, but it is in reasonably good stereo sound, and for that reason alone is worth owning. And, in this of all roles, even a slightly off form Callas outshines the efforts of both Jones and Sass in their studio recordings. For many years I was perfectly happy with it, but, then I hadn't heard what she does with the role under Bernstein (at La Scala), and Rescigno (in Dallas).

The Bernstein finds Callas in sovereign voice. As one contemporary commentator put it, she sounds as if she was born singing it. The roles many demands are met full on and dispatched with ease. Vocally it is a tour de force, and, for that reason, demands to be heard. However, by the time of the Dallas performances, Callas had substantially refined her charactersiation. This performance was recorded the night Rudolf Bing cancelled her Met contract, and many said she sounded as if she were hurling all her vitriol at him. Maybe she was... However we don't just get the fire eating, vengeful Medea. We also see the woman consumed with love for the man who bore her children, driven to the terrible acts she commits because of his duplicity. Furthermore, the cast also includes Jon Vickers as Jason and Teresa Berganza as Neris, a truly stellar cast. If I could only have one of her Medeas, this would be it (with a slightly regretful glance at Bernstein).


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 04, 2010, 11:26:35 AM
Apologies if this has been posted already

Some of it is so sad

http://www.classicaltv.com/v418/opera/maria-callas-living-and-dying-for-art-and-love
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 04, 2010, 02:24:51 PM
Apologies if this has been posted already

Some of it is so sad

http://www.classicaltv.com/v418/opera/maria-callas-living-and-dying-for-art-and-love

I saw it when it was shown on the BBC. For the most part it concentrates on her characterisation of the role of Tosca and reactions to it from other professionals, but I deplore the comments of Nicholas Cage, who states as fact much that is unsubstantiated and hearsay. There is no real evidence to suggest that Callas and Onassis had a baby, and many Callas biographers refute that fact. I'm not even sure his comments had any place in this documentary.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Scarpia on August 04, 2010, 02:31:56 PM
I'm not even sure his comments had any place in this documentary.

Yes, all he did was research her life and write a book about her.  What use is he?  What was needed was more inarticulate divas and impresarios struggling to string together more platitudes about Callas.  There wasn't enough of that.   8)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 04, 2010, 02:54:46 PM
Yes, all he did was research her life and write a book about her.  What use is he?  What was needed was more inarticulate divas and impresarios struggling to string together more platitudes about Callas.  There wasn't enough of that.   8)

Why are you even reading this? You don't like Callas. Correction, you don't even like singers. And it's odd that most of Callas's other biographers, who presumably also researched her life, come to completely different conclusions. I feel the ignore button coming on.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Scarpia on August 04, 2010, 03:04:19 PM
Why are you even reading this? You don't like Callas. Correction, you don't even like singers. And it's odd that most of Callas's other biographers, who presumably also researched her life, come to completely different conclusions. I feel the ignore button coming on.

Oh dear.  I guess it was a mistake in invade the sanctity of the Callas shrine thread.  Maybe I can find a nice Helga Dernesch thread.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Bulldog on August 04, 2010, 03:11:51 PM
Why are you even reading this? You don't like Callas. Correction, you don't even like singers. And it's odd that most of Callas's other biographers, who presumably also researched her life, come to completely different conclusions. I feel the ignore button coming on.

There's no reason to get hostile.  After all, whether Callas had babies or not has zero to do with her worth as an opera singer.

As for the ignore button, DON'T DO IT!  That's only for wimps. ;D
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 04, 2010, 03:19:54 PM
There's no reason to get hostile.  After all, whether Callas had babies or not has zero to do with her worth as an opera singer.

As for the ignore button, DON'T DO IT!  That's only for wimps. ;D

Already done. Maybe that makes me a wimp, but I really can't be bothered with WIMs (wind up merchants).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Scarpia on August 04, 2010, 03:23:59 PM
Already done. Maybe that makes me a wimp, but I really can't be bothered with WIMs (wind up merchants).

Now you'll just be wondering what nasty things I might be saying about Callas.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 04, 2010, 04:47:32 PM
As far as I know the original version of the score (in French with spoken dialogue) has never been recorded. I believe the only studio recordings  (apart from Callas) are Gwyneth Jones on Decca and Sylvia Sass on Hungaraton. All three of these use a hybrid version of the score, which uses an Italian transition and recitatives by the German composer Franz Lachner. However neither Jones nor Sass begin to challenge Callas's hegemony in the role. Here is a list of Callas performances that have appeared on disc at one time or another.

May 1953 - Maggio Musicale Fiorentino - Gui 
December 1953 - La Scala - Bernstein
September 1957 - La Scala/studio - Serafin
November 1958 - Dallas - Rescigno 
June 1959 - Covent Garden - Rescigno
December 1961 - La Scala - Schippers

Please also note that each conductor prepared their own version of the score, so they all differ musically in some way. Of these, the Schippers can quickly be discarded. Though there are flashes of the old Callas magic, she no longer has the requisite power and control to do the role full justice. The Covent Garden, with substantially the same cast as Dallas, enjoys better sound but is nowhere near as exciting as Dallas, so I would probably ditch that too. The Gui/Florence performance has a lot to commend it, and is interesting in housing Callas's first thoughts on the role, but the Bernstein is even better so I would probably end up ditching that too. The other 3 are all worth hearing.


The studio recording, not, as it happens, made for EMI (Walter Legge would have nothing to do with the project) but for the Italian firm of Ricordi is actually nowhere near on the same level as Bernstein or Rescigno, but it is in reasonably good stereo sound, and for that reason alone is worth owning. And, in this of all roles, even a slightly off form Callas outshines the efforts of both Jones and Sass in their studio recordings. For many years I was perfectly happy with it, but, then I hadn't heard what she does with the role under Bernstein (at La Scala), and Rescigno (in Dallas).

The Bernstein finds Callas in sovereign voice. As one contemporary commentator put it, she sounds as if she was born singing it. The roles many demands are met full on and dispatched with ease. Vocally it is a tour de force, and, for that reason, demands to be heard. However, by the time of the Dallas performances, Callas had substantially refined her charactersiation. This performance was recorded the night Rudolf Bing cancelled her Met contract, and many said she sounded as if she were hurling all her vitriol at him. Maybe she was... However we don't just get the fire eating, vengeful Medea. We also see the woman consumed with love for the man who bore her children, driven to the terrible acts she commits because of his duplicity. Furthermore, the cast also includes Jon Vickers as Jason and Teresa Berganza as Neris, a truly stellar cast. If I could only have one of her Medeas, this would be it (with a slightly regretful glance at Bernstein).

Thanks very much for this! I've ordered the two live versions that you recommended - the Bernstein is available on Amazon for download for less than £2.50! I find I usually prefer live recordings of operas to studio ones, even if it means the sound is less good.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 04, 2010, 08:11:54 PM
Can someone recommend a good biography? I understand Anne Edwards has written a couple.

Thanks
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 05, 2010, 12:20:49 AM
Can someone recommend a good biography? I understand Anne Edwards has written a couple.

Thanks

The Anne Edwards is pretty much tabloid trash. The best biography is probably Michael Scott's Maria Meneghini Callas. Scott, a musician as well as a writer, tries to explain what it was that made Callas great, rather than concentrating on the scandals that dogged her life. For most other biographers, the fact that Callas was a singer and a musician is almost incidental. Their interest is in the post Onassis period, which, musically at least, was the least interesting part of Callas's life.

Another good read is Stelios Galatapolous's Sacred Monster, written by someone who knew her and saw her perform on many occasions.

John Ardoin's The Callas Legacy discusses every one of Callas's recorded performances, and is an absolute must.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 05, 2010, 08:46:01 AM
The Anne Edwards is pretty much tabloid trash. The best biography is probably Michael Scott's Maria Meneghini Callas. Scott, a musician as well as a writer, tries to explain what it was that made Callas great, rather than concentrating on the scandals that dogged her life. For most other biographers, the fact that Callas was a singer and a musician is almost incidental. Their interest is in the post Onassis period, which, musically at least, was the least interesting part of Callas's life.

Another good read is Stelios Galatapolous's Sacred Monster, written by someone who knew her and saw her perform on many occasions.

John Ardoin's The Callas Legacy discusses every one of Callas's recorded performances, and is an absolute must.

Thank you Tsaraslondon for a detailed & informative response.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 05, 2010, 09:33:45 AM
Thank you Tsaraslondon for a detailed & informative response.

You're more than welcome.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Bulldog on August 05, 2010, 09:36:26 AM
Already done. Maybe that makes me a wimp, but I really can't be bothered with WIMs (wind up merchants).

Nobody takes my advice, not even family members.  :(
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 05, 2010, 10:00:20 AM
You're more than welcome.

Have just ordered Michael Scott's Maria Meneghini Callas from Amazon ('used like new' - £0.01 + P&P!). I'll let you know what I think after I've read it. If I don't enjoy it, I haven't exactly broken the bank.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Scarpia on August 05, 2010, 10:06:07 AM
Nobody takes my advice, not even family members.  :(

Well, Bulldog, it is for the best.  Our Tsaralondon is too emotionally fragile to even imagine seeing a non-lauditory reference to Callas appear on his screen.   :'(
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 05, 2010, 10:14:14 AM
Not true, it merely has to be well informed.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 06, 2010, 02:23:54 AM
Nobody takes my advice, not even family members.  :(

Actually, I suppose my acronym should really have been WUMs but WIMs worked (and sounds) better  ;)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 06, 2010, 04:34:09 AM
The Anne Edwards is pretty much tabloid trash. The best biography is probably Michael Scott's Maria Meneghini Callas. Scott, a musician as well as a writer, tries to explain what it was that made Callas great, rather than concentrating on the scandals that dogged her life. For most other biographers, the fact that Callas was a singer and a musician is almost incidental. Their interest is in the post Onassis period, which, musically at least, was the least interesting part of Callas's life.

Another good read is Stelios Galatapolous's Sacred Monster, written by someone who knew her and saw her perform on many occasions.

John Ardoin's The Callas Legacy discusses every one of Callas's recorded performances, and is an absolute must.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QKAENR0VL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/0684859858/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books)
 
This 540 page hardbound book mentioned above has a ton of great pictures, $3 used Amazon USA
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 09, 2010, 03:26:23 AM
Thanks to the happy recommendation by Tsaras several pages ago, I finally bought and read Michael Scott's "Maria Meneghini Callas". For biography, I relied probably too much on Arianna Stassinopoulos'  "Maria Callas", that in comparison to the former appears quite gossipy and some of the assertions in the book unfounded. Maybe hers is a more "womanly" bio, concerned more with relationships rather than the cold facts of a career.    

Sniffing out hearsay and not being satisfied with it, Scott must have gone to much trouble in searching out the facts. (His scholarship is reminiscent of the epic three volume biography of Franz Liszt by Alan Walker.) As a living witness, he was present at some of her concerts.

I had some lingering questions from Anianna's book like Callas saying she turned down the title role in Madame Butterfly at the Met soon after she returned from Greece, attributing this stubborness to her "voices" like those of Joan of Arc. While Arianna admits spin and confabulation not only from Maria but from her husband as well. Scott points out that the audition records for Metropolitan Opera at that time say nothing of the sort. Instead, on one of the cards is that she "needs to work on her voice".

Another persistent question I had in my mind was the agreement with Bargarozy who somehow convinced her to sign a contract giving him 10% of her future earnings. According to Scott there was more than a hint of emotional involvement. Callas intensely worked on her voice with his wife, Louise Caselotti, and travelled with her to Italy.

There just may be a Muzio connection here in that Ottavio Scotto, the husband of Claudia Muzio (who sang in Chicago) was entrusted with the business end of Bagarozy's failed Turandot scheme in Chicago.

His compilation of operas and concerts with interesting commentary is more than encyclopedic. It would help to have some recordings close by while reading. He has a keen ear and in the introduction says that ultimately her musical gifts set her apart. As her vocal abilities declined she put more stock in visuals and diction.

As Arianna pointed out, Callas had a way of saying things or repeating slogans that put people off the track. Quite a few had to do about her repeated lip service to Meneghini and how women should be subservient to their spouses. When asked about the importance of the words in singing, Scott included a quote by Callas saying that she derived the expression ONLY through the music.

This is here nor there, but one of my teachers said that Callas was brutal in her relationships. That fateful first trip on Onassis' yacht had her husband in another room. Writing her mother that "she could throw herself out the window" may have been over the top. Of course, it is horrible to be the ugly duckling in the family when a mother is stuffing her daughter with food and tellling her that she has her voice, and doesn't need looks. (I didn't so much before, but now have been convinced that her slimming down was a vocal liablity in the sense that she was used to certain physical feedback. A different setup, probably with stronger muscles, is needed when thinner.)   

Ironically, her weight may have been the main factor for the ease and floating quality she had in the early 50's, not to mention the hated piano lessons that her mother forced her through as a child. Her mother also transferred to Greece that permitted the fateful encounter with De Hidalgo. So when Callas said that everything her mother did for her was bad, there is more than a smidgen of exaggeration here.

Poverina, she had a lot of unprocessed resentment. Her emotional life was bound up with her operatic characters that left little to nothing for herself to feed on.

After her split from Meneghini, Maria tried to erase her middle name from existing and past recordings. It's interesting how Scott includes it in the title.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 11, 2010, 12:59:52 PM
Tsaraslondon - this version appears to be the original.
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8e/Medee.jpg)

Neither of my CDs came with libretti - is there anywhere on the web that gives an English translation? I'd like one for Norma too...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 12, 2010, 12:23:42 AM
Tsaraslondon - this version appears to be the original.
(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8e/Medee.jpg)

Neither of my CDs came with libretti - is there anywhere on the web that gives an English translation? I'd like one for Norma too...

However, any excitement at the prospect of finally hearing the original version is tempered by its reception on Amazon (2 star review on amazon.co.uk and 1 star on amazon.com). The snippets I listened to are not tempting.

There are 2 separate PDF dowloads for the Italian libretto and English translation of Norma here http://www.operatoday.com/content/2006/04/bellini_norma.php (http://www.operatoday.com/content/2006/04/bellini_norma.php) for one. Possibly also on EMI's site, as the first Callas recording is available in EMI's bargain opera range.

Medea is harder to come by. The EMI issue of Callas's recording (if it is still available) did come with complete libretto and translation.




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on August 12, 2010, 03:14:29 AM
However, any excitement at the prospect of finally hearing the original version is tempered by its reception on Amazon (2 star review on amazon.co.uk and 1 star on amazon.com). The snippets I listened to are not tempting.

There's another, better version of Médée on Nuova Era (my copy has a different cover), with Jano Tamar and Patrizia Ciofi, Patrick Fournillier conducting.  I see one 3 (out of five) star review at the U.S. Amazon site, which I guess is about what I'd rate it.  I got them both at a good price from Berkshire Record Outlet, but that was years ago.  Both have the French libretto, but the Nuova Era doesn't have an English translation.  But the Callas (studio version, the only one I've heard) remains my favorite. 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 12, 2010, 09:07:26 AM
Thanks for the Norma libretto - don't knwo why I didn't think of looking there before!  :)

Shame about the Medea - having the libretto in hand is always so vital in appreciating Callas art I find, at least initially when one does not know what she is singing.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 12, 2010, 09:42:39 AM
Thanks for the Norma libretto - don't knwo why I didn't think of looking there before!  :)

Shame about the Medea - having the libretto in hand is always so vital in appreciating Callas art I find, at least initially when one does not know what she is singing.

Get yourself the EMI studio recording. I'm sure you should be able to pick it up fairly cheaply somewhere, and it makes an excellent supplement for the live performances. Incidentally, the EMI issue of the Bernstein also has a full libretto in Italian with English translation.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 12, 2010, 09:49:21 AM
There's another, better version of Médée on Nuova Era (my copy has a different cover), with Jano Tamar and Patrizia Ciofi, Patrick Fournillier conducting.  I see one 3 (out of five) star review at the U.S. Amazon site, which I guess is about what I'd rate it.  I got them both at a good price from Berkshire Record Outlet, but that was years ago.  Both have the French libretto, but the Nuova Era doesn't have an English translation.  But the Callas (studio version, the only one I've heard) remains my favorite.

It is a role Callas made peculiarly her own. I have excerpts from live performances featuring the likes of Gencer, Olivero, and Caballe, but not even any of those ladies quite challenges Callas's hegemony in the part.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 12, 2010, 10:00:07 AM
It is a role Callas made peculiarly her own. I have excerpts from live performances featuring the likes of Gencer, Olivero, and Caballe, but not even any of those ladies quite challenges Callas's hegemony in the part.

Would you say that it is a rare case where the singer is greater than the music?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 12, 2010, 10:32:28 AM
Not necessarily. Many great composers of the past, Beethoven amongst them, held Cherubini , and Medee in particular, in very high esteem. I'd say a great interpreter is able to bring out the greatness in the music.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 12, 2010, 03:09:02 PM
Of course - I had forgotten that. And then there's that old story about Brahms having three pictures on his wall - Bach, Beethoven and Cherubini.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 13, 2010, 09:49:44 AM
It is a role Callas made peculiarly her own. I have excerpts from live performances featuring the likes of Gencer, Olivero, and Caballe, but not even any of those ladies quite challenges Callas's hegemony in the part.

Among the other three ladies, sight unseen, I would probably choose Gencer.
She does not disappoint here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bC4QUN6Hco

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 13, 2010, 03:19:51 PM
Among the other three ladies, sight unseen, I would probably choose Gencer.
She does not disappoint here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bC4QUN6Hco

ZB

I have to say that, for my taste, a little too much verismo creeps into Gencer's delivery of this bel canto role. She doesn't bind the fioriture into her phrasing the way that Callas does, nor is her legato as good and there is often the suspicion of an aspirate.  Compare it to this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwvAvaAx7nk&p=D82DEF0CA37F7559&playnext=1&index=12 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwvAvaAx7nk&p=D82DEF0CA37F7559&playnext=1&index=12)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 14, 2010, 09:28:37 AM
I have to say that, for my taste, a little too much verismo creeps into Gencer's delivery of this bel canto role. She doesn't bind the fioriture into her phrasing the way that Callas does, nor is her legato as good and there is often the suspicion of an aspirate.  Compare it to this

 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwvAvaAx7nk&p=D82DEF0CA37F7559&playnext=1&index=12)

I get your point. Mario del Monaco was quite a Pollione sought after by other Normas (and Adelgisas too) on the above playlist. Here is Caballe with plenty of legato to spare.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXaUWEy8BzY

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 15, 2010, 03:33:50 AM
I get your point. Mario del Monaco was quite a Pollione sought after by other Normas (and Adelgisas too) on the above playlist. Here is Caballe with plenty of legato to spare.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXaUWEy8BzY

ZB

Ah, this is taken from the Orange performance, surely one of Caballe's greatest ever performances. Her singing is meltingly beautiful. Brava!

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 18, 2010, 12:40:54 AM
I get your point. Mario del Monaco was quite a Pollione sought after by other Normas (and Adelgisas too) on the above playlist. Here is Caballe with plenty of legato to spare.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXaUWEy8BzY

ZB

Amazing! Time stands still...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 26, 2010, 11:37:28 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51BZqnlTZ2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000002RXQ/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ZNzAQYpQL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001CZVVV4/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
Just got the Netrebko Puritani DVD so I had to go back and listen to Callas........
 
This has to be one of her most treasured Cds, the sound is much better than I remembered (1953 recording with Serafin) and La Divina is really on top of her game here.......her confident dramatic delivery of main arias makes others seem timid by comparison, brings a smile to my face that someone would be this bold! I will always be glad to return to this version for inspiration
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 26, 2010, 09:10:29 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51BZqnlTZ2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000002RXQ/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
Just got the Netrebko Puritani DVD so I had to go back and listen to Callas........
 
This has to be one of her most treasured Cds, the sound is much better than I remembered (1953 recording with Serafin) and La Divina is really on top of her game here.......her confident dramatic delivery of main arias makes others seem timid by comparison, brings a smile to my face that someone would be this bold! I will always be glad to return to this version for inspiration

DA - Is the CD a live recording?  If it is do you know of a studio recording?

Thanks
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 27, 2010, 12:20:20 AM
DA - Is the CD a live recording?  If it is do you know of a studio recording?

Thanks

No this is a studio recording from 1953 (so mono) and Callas is in spectacular form, her voice so limpid it responds to her every wish. Both Pavarotti and Kraus (in rival versions with Sutherland and Caballe) are no doubt preferable  to the unstylish Di Stefano as Arturo, but Callas is superb. Though recorded after the first Lucia Di Lammermoor, it was the first of her EMI recordings to be released in the US, and the first with the La Scala imprimatur. Walter Legge wanted to make as big a splash as he could, and he certainly did. The ripples are still being felt to this day.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 27, 2010, 06:17:00 AM
No this is a studio recording from 1953 (so mono) and Callas is in spectacular form, her voice so limpid it responds to her every wish. Both Pavarotti and Kraus (in rival versions with Sutherland and Caballe) are no doubt preferable  to the unstylish Di Stefano as Arturo, but Callas is superb. Though recorded after the first Lucia Di Lammermoor, it was the first of her EMI recordings to be released in the US, and the first with the La Scala imprimatur. Walter Legge wanted to make as big a splash as he could, and he certainly did. The ripples are still being felt to this day.

The sound quality is so good for the Callas Puritani that when I looked for recording info I fully expected to see it was late 1950s stereo studio recording........
when I saw it was 1953 mono studio I was very impressed and must compliment the job EMI and Legge did on this release, bravo
 
Sospiro
There are competing sets from Sutherland, Cabelle, Sills but Callas is almost unstoppable here and would be my top CD choice especially with the good sound given her recording
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 27, 2010, 09:06:19 AM
Callas has several EMI studio releases in 1953 all in the studio boxset:
 
Lucia Di Lammermoor - Feb 1953
I Puritani - Mar 1953
Cavalleria Rustcana  - Aug 1953
Tosca - Aug 1953
La Traviata - Sep 1953
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SU7zp2ERL._AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TIO4Z0/ref=dp_otherviews_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&img=2)
 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 27, 2010, 09:22:43 AM
Many thanks Tsaraslondon & DarkAngel for your helpful & informative responses.  (You must get sick of my asking this) Do they come with full libretto?  :)

So far I only have one Callas recording & that's this Lucia di Lammermoor. I love it & love the fact that it's mono - it sounded very natural somehow but was disappointed the Wolf's Crag scene isn't included nor the three Lucia/Raimondo duets Ebben? - Di tua speranza; Ah! Cedi, cedi; Al ben de' tuoi vittima.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XNA26Cd3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Is the I Puritani in the same series?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 27, 2010, 09:29:24 AM
Many thanks Tsaraslondon & DarkAngel for your helpful & informative responses.  (You must get sick of my asking this) Do they come with full libretto?  :)

The black box EMI individual opera sets do have large booklet/libretto with slipcover
 
The studio boxset has CD 70 which has libretti and photo collection
 
The EMI Great Recordings of the Century are newer releases and all have large booklet with slipcover, retail price is lower than black box......get this version whenever possible
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 27, 2010, 10:02:26 AM

The black box EMI individual opera sets do have large booklet/libretto with slipcover
 
The studio boxset has CD 70 which has libretti and photo collection
 
The EMI Great Recordings of the Century are newer releases and all have large booklet with slipcover, retail price is lower than black box......get this version whenever possible

(http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/4344/thankyou.gif)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 27, 2010, 04:25:53 PM

The black box EMI individual opera sets do have large booklet/libretto with slipcover
 


One should also mention that in addition to the EMI black box Callas edition, which were full price, EMI issued a series of blue box Callas edition sets at mid price. These too all included libretto/booklet and slipcase. Most of them are live performances, but some are alternative studio recordings. The blue box sets are as follows.

Aida - live Mexico city 1951 - De Fabritiis
Macbeth - live La Scala 1952- De Sabata
Lucia Di Lammermoor - Studio 1953 - Serafin
Andrea Chenier - live La Scala 1955 - Votto
La Sonnambula - live La Scala 1955 - Bernstein
La Traviata - live La Scala 1955 - Giulini
Lucia Di Lammermoor - live Berlin 1955 - Karajan
Anna Bolena - live La Scala 1957 - Gavazzeni
Iphigenie en Tauride - live La Scala 1957- Sanzogno
La Sonnambula - live Cologne 1957 - Votto
Medea - studio 1957 _ Serafin
Un Ballo in Maschera - live La Scala 1957 - Gavazzeni
Il Pirata - live Carnegie Hall 1959 - Rescigno
Norma - studio 1960 - Serafin
Poliuto - live La Scala 1960 - Votto
Tosca - studio 1964 - Pretre

Of the live performances, essential are the Macbeth, Giulini Traviata, Karajan Lucia, the Cologne Sommanbula (though the Bernstein is pretty exciting), Anna Bolena and Un Ballo in Maschera. Of the studio sets, you already have the Lucia, but I'd say the second studio Norma, was also essential.




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: sospiro on August 27, 2010, 10:57:43 PM
Thanks  Tsaraslondon - very helpful.

I'm going to Milan soon & it would be great if I could find a performance at La Scala in the La Scala shop.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 28, 2010, 06:49:12 AM

Of the live performances, essential are the Macbeth, Giulini Traviata, Karajan Lucia, the Cologne Sommanbula (though the Bernstein is pretty exciting), Anna Bolena and Un Ballo in Maschera. Of the studio sets, you already have the Lucia, but I'd say the second studio Norma, was also essential.

is there a Callas recording you don't own?  :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 28, 2010, 10:07:33 AM
is there a Callas recording you don't own?  :)

Once you get into live recording there is an almost endless number of choices, more every day..... ;)
 
I recall previously TS mentioned his most treasured Callas CD is 1955 Divina label Norma
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17_.jpg)
 
http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17.htm (http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17.htm)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 28, 2010, 03:12:05 PM
is there a Callas recording you don't own?  :)

There are one or two live performances I don't have, though I've heard most of them. LOL

 Actually, now that I think of it, I don't have the first studio Norma; the live La Scala of 1955 is so superior, and as a studio recording of the opera, I actually prefer the second, in stereo and with a superior supporting cast. Nor do I have the Lisbon La Travaiata, prefering, as I do, the Covent Garden performance of 1958. I do have the Giulini/La Scala one though.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 28, 2010, 03:20:32 PM

Once you get into live recording there is an almost endless number of choices, more every day..... ;)

John Ardoin's book The Callas Legacy is an invaluable guide through this minefield. Not all of them are worth hearing. I can't, for instance,  listen to those late 1970s concerts she did with Di Stefano and piano. I actually find them quite painful to listen to. Callas was just a pale shadow of herself by this time.


I recall previously TS mentioned his most treasured Callas CD is 1955 Divina label Norma
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17_.jpg)
 
http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17.htm (http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17.htm)


If I were allowed only one Callas set (heaven forbid) then it would be a toss up between this Norma, and the Covent Garden La Traviata of 1958.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on August 28, 2010, 07:51:33 PM
There are one or two live performances I don't have, though I've heard most of them. LOL

 Actually, now that I think of it, I don't have the first studio Norma; the live La Scala of 1955 is so superior, and as a studio recording of the opera, I actually prefer the second, in stereo and with a superior supporting cast. Nor do I have the Lisbon La Travaiata, prefering, as I do, the Covent Garden performance of 1958. I do have the Giulini/La Scala one though.


Is there a Callas recording I have that Tsaraslondon doesn't?

The first studio Norma--is that the 1954 recording?  I think it's a very good one, and can only tremble in awe at the other two....

It's now available through Brilliant (the one I have) and through EMI's newest budget opera series, btw.  The Brilliant you need to download the libretto from their website; the EMI has the libretto and some of their usual Callosolatry for liner notes on a PDF.    I have the Brilliant, and for twelve dollars you can hardly go wrong. 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 28, 2010, 11:49:08 PM


If I were allowed only one Callas set (heaven forbid) then it would be a toss up between this Norma, and the Covent Garden La Traviata of 1958.

TS, Is there any difference in sound quality between these two first alternatives?

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/search.php?searchString=+Rescigno+callas+traviata

Thanks,

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 29, 2010, 02:53:09 AM
TS, Is there any difference in sound quality between these two first alternatives?

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/search.php?searchString=+Rescigno+callas+traviata

Thanks,

Mike

I don't know either of those, Mike. I have it on an old Virtuoso pressing, which is fine really. It was a BBC Third programme broadcast, so the sound is actually quite good anyway.
I keep hoping that Divina records will issue it. Failing that, it seems incredible to me that the Royal Opera House haven't issued it in their own Heritrage series.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 29, 2010, 03:21:00 AM


The first studio Norma--is that the 1954 recording?  I think it's a very good one, and can only tremble in awe at the other two....

It's now available through Brilliant (the one I have) and through EMI's newest budget opera series, btw.  The Brilliant you need to download the libretto from their website; the EMI has the libretto and some of their usual Callosolatry for liner notes on a PDF.    I have the Brilliant, and for twelve dollars you can hardly go wrong.

I have no hesitation in claiming that the live 1955 La Scala Norma is one of the greatest performances Callas ever gave. Here voice and artistry find their truest equilibrium.  From first note to last, her voice seems to be responding to her every whim, so we are no longer aware of technical accomplishment, merely her profound identification with the character

On the other hand, there is no denying that by 1960, the date of the second studio recording, Callas's voice was no longer as robust and reliable an instrument as it was even 5 years earlier. Top notes tend to harden and do not fall easily on the ear, and, for that reason, I totally understand those who retain their preference for the earlier  studio recording. However, in the middle and lower registers, the voice takes on a new beauty, and the characterisation has taken on further depth and complexity. Furthermore the cast and recording quality are all preferable to the first one. Corelli, often noble in tone, and on his best behaviour musically, far outshines the awful Fillipeschi. One would maybe expect Stignani to be the better Adalgisa, but, to my ears, she sounds far too matronly and her singing is often clumsy. By contrast, Ludwig, sounds, as she should, like the younger woman, and is surprisingly fleet in the coloratura passages, if not quite as accurate as Callas. Unexpectedly perhaps, their voices blend remarkably well and both duets are fine examples of the give and take that should exist in a perfect partnership. Zaccaria is much firmer, his tone much more buttery than the woolly Rossi- Lemeni, whose tone leaks air at every emission. With more spacious sound and Serafin again at the helm, it could hardly be bettered in the studio.

Interestingly on the 2 occasions Norma was the subject of BBC's Building a Library series, the reviewers, different each time, narrowed the final choice down to the two Callas recordings. One chose the first, and the other the second, so I guess that in the end it comes down to personal preferences. That said, there can be no doubt, that, even 45 years after Callas last sang the role on stage, she completely dominates its history. We are fortunate indeed that it is preserved in so many different performances.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 29, 2010, 05:22:21 AM
You do get both studio Normas 1954 & 1960 in the complete studio boxset........
The pricing can be incredibly cheap if you look around, got mine under $100 for 70 CD set
 
The boxset booklet included gives cast list and track desciption with timings for the operas
 
CD 70 loads a PDF file on your desktop with Callas black and white photo gallery and libretto for each opera
but there is a problem for me.....
 
The individual opera CD set books contain background info and synopsis with track numbers, the PDF file from complete boxset does not have these, this info should have been included in PDF......would have been very simple to do and surprised they are not included  :(
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SU7zp2ERL._AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TIO4Z0/ref=dp_otherviews_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&img=2)
 
Also while I am complaining a bit the CD sleeves and outside box artwork are very generic and cheap looking, would have been nice touch to put a different Callas photo on each cardboard CD sleeve to make this more appealing and use a better picture of Maria for outside box......
 
Look how much nicer the $650 deluxe 70 CD boxset looks ($330 Amazon sellers)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51g4Atq0SSL._SS400_.jpg)
 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 29, 2010, 06:51:13 AM
The Deluxe box set really is that, and you would think that I would have bought it, especially as I could have bought it for around £100, when one of my local retail outlets was closing down. But, at the time, I just couldn't justify spending that much money for a box and photos, many of which I already have in other books, when I already had the vast majority of the discs in my collection already. Does this mean I have finally grown up? When I was younger I had different priorities. Record collecting came first and pretty much everything after it. No wonder I never had any money.  ;D

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 29, 2010, 08:22:50 AM
The Deluxe box set really is that, and you would think that I would have bought it, especially as I could have bought it for around £100, when one of my local retail outlets was closing down. But, at the time, I just couldn't justify spending that much money for a box and photos, many of which I already have in other books, when I already had the vast majority of the discs in my collection already. Does this mean I have finally grown up? When I was younger I had different priorities. Record collecting came first and pretty much everything after it. No wonder I never had any money.  ;D

I definitely would have bought it for 100 pounds or about $155 dollars......and sell current cheap set used.
Besides it could be an investment if this really is a limited edition.......value could appreciate in 10 years
 
For example look at the crazy prices for this boxset, $4,000 used!
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4196GRDGDEL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 29, 2010, 08:31:35 AM

I definitely would have bought it for 100 pounds or about $160 dollars......and sell current set used.
besides it could be an investment if this really is a limited edition.......value could appreciate
 
For example look at the crazy prices for this boxset, $4,000 used!
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/4196GRDGDEL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Yes I thought about that, but at the time I really couldn't spare £100.  In between jobs and not sure where my next pay check was coming from, not that that would have stopped me when I was younger.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 30, 2010, 05:46:01 AM
Callas 1955 Normas.......
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fdvjsqn7L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00133KE8Q/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
TS
Have you had a chance to compare the 1955 Callas - Votto (La Scala) to the 1955 Callas - Serafin (RAI)
 
We have different conductors/orchestras and different Aldalgisa for each version.
Some say better sound source for Serafin but Divina label must feel the Votto is better performance overall
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 30, 2010, 06:44:39 AM
Callas 1955 Normas.......
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fdvjsqn7L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00133KE8Q/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
TS
Have you have a chance to compare the 1955 Callas - Votto (La Scala) to the 1955 Callas - Serafin (RAI)
 
We have different conductors/orchestras and different Aldalgisa for each version.
Some say better sound source for Serafin but Divina label must feel the Votto is better performance overall

The Rome one is pretty good, but this was a concert performance for RAI, and as such lacks the dramatic conviction of its counterpart. Callas is in slightly less good voice. It takes her a while to settle down, and Casta Diva is not as affecting in Rome. Simionato easily outclasses Stignani, who was getting a bit past it by this time, sounding mature and  lacking elegance. Of course we do have Serafin, but, as can can happen so many times  on a night when everything goes right, Votto is inspired to give one of his very best performances. Del Monaco is pretty much the same in both performances. I wouldn't prefer him to Corelli in the 1960 studio recording, but, if his singing lacks elegance, we do have the compensation of his clarion tone.

The sound on the Divina issue is actually very good, easily the equal of, say the Berlin Lucia Di Lammermoor with Karajan, and much better than on any of the other labels I have heard it.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 30, 2010, 08:46:04 AM
I don't know either of those, Mike. I have it on an old Virtuoso pressing, which is fine really. It was a BBC Third programme broadcast, so the sound is actually quite good anyway.
I keep hoping that Divina records will issue it. Failing that, it seems incredible to me that the Royal Opera House haven't issued it in their own Heritrage series.

Thanks for that TS, I will take pot luck.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on August 31, 2010, 03:26:51 PM
TS
I placed an order for Divina label Norma.........if order is processed well I am next looking at this prize:
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata18_.jpg)
 
There is no EMI studio Anna Bolena, only the 1957 live version from La scala with conductor Gavazzeni.
I suspect Divina will again improve our sound quality, they have obtained original master tape to work from for this remaster.........Callas is an unstoppable elemental force of nature here
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516b44535cL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000630Z/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 01, 2010, 01:29:37 AM
TS
I placed an order for Divina label Norma.........if order is processed well I am next looking at this prize:
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata18_.jpg)
 
There is no EMI studio Anna Bolena, only the 1957 live version from La scala with conductor Gavazzeni.
I suspect Divina will again improve our sound quality, they have obtained original master tape to work from for this remaster.........Callas is an unstoppable elemental force of nature here
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516b44535cL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000630Z/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)


The sound on the EMI issue isn't at all bad, which probably means that the Divina issue will be even better. And this performance is, without doubt, also one of Callas's greatest achievements. Just listen to the way she launches the stretta to the Act I finale; the intensity of her attack is phenomenal. Versions by Sutherland, Sills, Gruberova and just about everyone else I have heard pale by comparison.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 01, 2010, 02:09:30 AM
Some may be interested to read this article about Nicolas Gage's preposterous baby boy story.

“THE SECRET SON” OF MARIA CALLAS
FACTS AND FICTION

by BRIGITTE PANTIS


     In the years after Maria Callas’ death the frantic, never-ending search for new revelatory intimate material about her private life has led to ever more trashy fiction flooding the market. Nicholas Gage’s best-selling Greek Fire is yet another striking example.1 The reader who expects, as the dust jacket promises, previously unpublished “secrets” about Callas’ love affair with Aristotle Onassis and “startling revelations” that will “forever change what is known about the protagonists,” is never let down. In fact, Gage’s scandalous account offers the reader a voyeuristic view of the couple’s sex life and emotional turmoil that outdoes much of what others have already extensively written about the woman behind the legend, and one can only recoil in horror at the indecencies and indignities heaped upon a great artist.2
     The author, relying on information culled from previously published books about Callas and Onassis intermingled with gossip, second-hand accounts and ‘intimate’ recollections by the couple’s associates, friends and relatives,3 strings together a narrative filled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and overt fabrication.4 Though he puts the spotlight on the legendary cruise on the Christina, no doubt the real ‘highlight’ of the book is the spectacular story of “the secret son,” to which the author dedicates an entire chapter. Clearly, this is a tale of incredibilities and improbabilities that are too numerous to count and to escape any reader’s attention. There are many aspects which defy reason and/or are simply not consistent with known facts. It seems best to focus on some key passages in order to show that under more careful scrutiny Gage’s account turns out to be based in every respect more on speculation and fantasy than on fact.5
     In a lengthy overture to the story Gage sets out to dismiss the rumor of an abortion, first reported by Stassinopoulos,6 as a fabrication and then makes strenuous efforts to circumvent the obstacle of Meneghini’s dictum that his wife was unable to conceive a child7 in order to arrive, after much speculating and conjecturing and much he-said, she-said reporting (which is altogether the trademark of his writing), at the hypothetical conclusion: “If Maria had been receiving these injections … then … in August of 1959, she might have been superfertile.” (p.201)
     “Upon learning that she was pregnant, she was overjoyed,” (p. 201) Gage recounts as if he had witnessed it himself, but Callas kept this good news to herself. As the author emphasizes a few pages later (p. 207 and again on p. 212), “the story of [her] baby’s birth and death has never been told. Maria spoke of it to only three people:” her servants Bruna and Ferruccio and many years later to Vasso Devetzi. This is indeed a most curious statement, to say the least. Because within a short time, according to the ineluctable law of nature, her condition of being pregnant would have started to clearly show and become ever more visible every month. What then would prevent Callas from sharing her great joy with her closest friends Hidalgo, Lantzounis, Lomazzi, the latter accompanying her everywhere in the fall of 1959, for instance to Dallas and to the courtcase in Brescia when Callas was 4 months pregnant? How is it possible that her good friend Giovanna, who “shared a hotel suite with her during the trip to Dallas,” (p. 191) and was thus at her side day and night, wouldn’t have noticed or suspected anything? And, mysteriously, even Mme Biki, who would by now (November) have been busy designing maternity dresses for her famous client, did not perceive any physiological changes!
     An interesting mystery, of course, is how did Callas (by that time the world’s most famous woman and besieged by reporters round the clock) manage to fool the world, friends and foes alike?8 As her sister Jackie pointedly wrote in a fax sent to Gage on 18 September 2000: “Maria couldn’t be wearing a coat or something like that 24 hours a day at the crucial last months of pregnancy.”9 Marilena Patronikola, Onassis’ niece, similarly pointed out that a pregnancy “is not something that can be kept secret and hidden.”10 After all, the thought must have occurred to Gage that one of the most important physiological changes evoked by pregnancy is the increasing swelling of the abdomen. The question is: confronted with this most troubling and most pressing issue, how does he tackle this big problem? The answer comes readily. He resorts to the simplest trick: he removes Callas from the public scene and jumps straight to the end of the pregnancy. After December, we learn, “she would not appear in public for the next several months,” (p. 201) with the notable exception of an interview she granted Marlyse Schaeffer of the France-Soir.
     This claim, of course, is ludicrous for there is abundant evidence to the contrary. In particular, there are many photographs taken in February 1960 and all of them show Callas in public, as slim and slender as ever, - and this is indeed fascinating when one considers that she was seven months pregnant at the time! - wearing dresses tightly fitted at the waist. For instance, accompanied by Ghiringhelli she appeared at the première of Fellini’s La dolce vita, on 5 February 1960, in the Teatro Capitol in Milan. During her stay in Paris in the second week of February photographers spotted her everywhere: visiting the exclusive salon of famous coiffeur Alexandre; attending a performance at the opera and chatting backstage with ballerina Yvette Chauvirée; dining with the Rothschilds at Maxime’s. As these photographs vividly and irrefutably demonstrate, it is not possible by any stretch of the imagination to claim that in February 1960 Maria Callas was 7 months pregnant.
     As regards the “notable exception,” the interview published in the France-Soir on 13 February 1960, Gage seeks to turn it flamboyantly with his shrewd composite of diffusive quotations and allusive comments into a vehicle for proving his case. And as a skilled columnist he is a master of all the tricks of his profession. Let us see what he fails to mention: “Ensuite, quand je l’ai vue à l’Opéra,” writes Schaeffer about Callas, “j’ai pensé: «Elle a maigri»” (this borders on the miraculous: at 7 months pregnant she appears even to have lost weight!), and what he adds: “elle tapota sa robe de faille raide,” which he describes this way: “the voluminous [!] dress of «stiff faille» that Maria wore might have suggested that she had something to hide.” (p. 202) A few days later Callas was seen dining with Meneghini at La barca d’oro, a fashionable Milanese restaurant, an event that set the city buzzing once again with rumors of a reconciliation. It is in this context that the Greek newspaper Ελευθερία (Eleftheria) reported on 19 February 1960: “Maria Callas returned from Paris on the eve of her meeting with her former husband. To friends she had expressed her anger at certain statements attributed to her by a reporter from the French newspaper France-Soir and especially at what was written about her husband.” And the article went on to note, “Immediately after her arrival in Milan Maria Callas officially denied the whole interview.”11
     “«I don’t want to sing anymore. I want to live, just like a normal woman, with children, a home, a dog.»12 This was Maria’s goal as she entered the eighth month of her pregnancy.” (p. 204) – This simply does not coincide with the historical facts. As performance schedules and contracts with artists are drawn up months in advance by the management of opera houses, Kosti Bastia, then director of the Athens lyric theatre, had been negotiating with Callas since January 1960 the details of her first performance at Epidaurus in August of that year, the official announcement of which was expected at the beginning of April. Because it was the first time ever that, exclusively for Callas, an opera would be staged at this pantheon of ancient Greek tragedy, this ‘big news’ received major coverage by the Greek press in the first months of 1960.13 The French press on the other hand reported that Callas met on 10 February with A.M. Julien, director of the Paris opera, to restart negotiations for Medea and that the work would now be given at the Palais Garnier in November 1960. In Italy, meanwhile, it was circulated that Ghiringhelli had proposed to Callas to open the 1960/61 season at La Scala, suggesting Norma, Medea or Beatrice di Tenda, which were finally all abandoned in favour of Poliuto.14
     Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of Gage’s account is the premature childbirth at the diva’s request. Let us turn to the description of what happened and how: “But Maria’s loneliness at his [Onassis] absence slowly gave way to dread at the prospect of his return,” Gage relates as if Callas herself had confided her innermost thoughts to him. “She feared having him see her swollen and nine months pregnant. She felt ugly and awkward and wished he could find her slim again, and holding their baby in her arms.” (p. 204) In short, Callas couldn’t wait any longer and that is why she pressured her gynaecologist “to deliver the child early – by cesarean section – as soon as it was safe [!!] to do so.” Thus, early on the morning of March 30, she arrived at Clinica Dezza on Via Dezza 48 and Dr Palmieri (who went to his grave taking the secret with him) “delivered a baby boy. Soon, however, the tiny infant began to have difficulty breathing. The clinic was not equipped [!!] to deal with the crisis and an ambulance was called to rush the baby to a better-equipped [!!] facility [?].” (p. 205) – This is utterly fantastic and scientifically cannot be taken seriously: neither a Caesarean section nor a premature childbirth is such an easy thing as Gage wants us naively to believe.
    First of all, it should be remembered that in those days a Caesarean section was not an optional choice for childbirth. On the contrary, in the 60ies this operation still carried a definite hazard and would only be performed if severe obstetrical abnormalities were detected and when a natural birth was impossible.15 Second, 50% of all deaths of newborn infants at the time were due to pre-maturity, i.e. birth at less than 37 weeks after conception. It was and is widely known that the chief specific causes of death among premature infants are respiratory disturbances, infections and haemorrhages, especially into the brain or lungs. For this reason a premature delivery requires skilful obstetric management and specialized nursing and paediatric care in a clinic equipped with an intensive care unit for newborn infants. Third, thanks to further medical improvements, today the chances of survival of premature infants born alive have significantly increased, but the fact remains that premature babies are liable to permanent defects (such as reduced stature, disturbed neuromuscular development and low intelligence quotient).
     In view of the above, it is flagrantly absurd to assume that Callas in complicity with her gynaecologist would have been prepared to take the risks involved in a premature childbirth by Caesarean section, so dangerous for both mother and child, moreover in an ill-equipped third-rate clinic, not to mention the possible serious after-effects on the prematurely born child. It is also good to remember that in catholic Italy physicians were forbidden to assist their patients in either the prevention or termination of pregnancy. In short, it would have amounted to a medical malpractice with serious legal consequences and would at the very least have cost Dr Palmieri his licence. Gage’s (former) good friend Dr Andreas Stathopoulos, himself a physician, pretty well sums it up: “What Gatsoyannis [Gage] writes is outrageous. It’s a ridiculous contention... Never ever could any physician be pressured to terminate a pregnancy, to perform a premature delivery by Caesarean section for those ridiculous reasons a month before the expected time of birth. In no civilized country could this happen, let alone with Callas as the protagonist. Ask whomever you like, scientifically this is untenable.”16
     Finally, let us focus attention on the core of the issue: the documentary evidence the author provides to support his allegation. Actually Gage’s ‘proof’ rests on 2 claims. First: “The description of the birth and death of Omero given above is based on her [Bruna’s] recollections, and is supported by the picture and documents left behind by Maria in her private papers.” (p. 209) Second: “Most of this chapter [The Secret Son] is based on documents from Maria Callas’ private papers that I was able to obtain. I confirmed the authenticity of the papers through individuals [!] who saw them shortly after Callas’ death on September 16, 1977.” (p. 401)
     The alleged testimony of Callas’ loyal maid Bruna Lupoli, who has steadfastly refused to speak to anyone about her mistress, raises a string of tantalizing questions: she waited 40 years for Mr Gage to come along to make this bombshell disclosure, i.e. she revealed to a complete stranger [!] through a mysterious, never-identified intermediary [!] and many undocumented telephone conversations [!] this sensational secret she had kept in her bosom for decades...17 Only to the staunchest admirer of Gage’s fantasies would this make any semblance of sense.
     Regarding the key issue: obviously in order to bolster the authenticity of his story, Gage repeatedly emphasizes that the purported birth and death certificates provided on page 206 (no doubt intentionally reproduced in a scarcely decipherable format, so that the reader merely glances at them and concentrates instead on Gage’s doctored translation) are authentic Callas papers which came mysteriously into his hands. There is only one problem with this contention – it isn’t true. For these certificates were in fact issued (see bottom left) on 23/10/1998 and 22/10/1998 respectively, that is 21 years after Callas’ death. In other words: Gage pretends to present papers from 1960 that in fact date from 1998. Thus these documents could not possibly have been left behind by Callas in her “private papers” because they did not exist at that time. To put it bluntly: the documentation on which his claim is based is actually false and manipulative. Consequently, Gage’s “strong proof, including documents that Maria left behind in her private papers,” (p. 199) vanishes into thin air and the “mystery” surrounding the surname as well.
     Equally significant is the fact that the questionable papers are by no means “birth and death certificates,” (p. 211) as Gage boldly claims.18 By international standards, a birth certificate, to be considered valid, must be a certified copy of an extract from an original entry of birth in the official vital statistics records of the state, etc. of the place of birth, must be issued on an official form and must show the parent’s (parents’) surname and first names in full. Likewise the so-called death certificate is not issued on an official form, and it fails to state not only the parents’ names but also the exact place and hour of death. What Gage provides can at best be described as some sort of unofficial papers, issued at request of ‘someone’ 38 years after the sad event, which state the birth and death of a certain Lengrini Omero on 30 March 1960 in Milan.
     It’s also worth noting that Gage’s translation on page 205 of the so-called ‘birth certificate’ is false and misleading. The Estratto per riassunto di atto nascita states as place of birth “nella casa posta in Via Dezza n. 49,” while Gage translates: “at the house listed as Via Dezza number 48” (= the location of ‘Clinica Dezza’). There are also discrepancies with regard to the registration numbers and naturally the date of issue (23/10/1998) is omitted.
     To sum up, as a skilled investigative reporter Gage pulls all the stops in order to successfully market a fabricated story – no matter how false or ridiculous. The main focus of Greek Fire has been the sensational ‘secret boy story,’ pointedly placed exactly in the middle of his narrative, serving as “the lure to sell the book because otherwise it has nothing new to add.”19 This story is simply an invention. All other absurdities aside, conclusive evidence emerges from the forged documentation proving beyond any doubt that there never was any baby boy secretly born by Maria Callas. It is a real scandal that the author largely got away with it. But what is even more appalling and truely incredible is that the apologists for the book, ignoring a basic scientific principle, did not even take the trouble to verify the authenticity of the fabled “private Callas papers” which provide the core support and sole ‘proof’ of the story. This failure to seriously investigate the whole issue is simply baffling.
     Ultimately, Gage’s chronique scandaleuse sets a precedent which is certainly much more than just a question of factual errors and deliberate distortions. It is a moral issue and raises deeply troubling questions regarding the integrity of investigative journalism and the quality of disseminated information in today’s profit-orientated ‘culture’, dominated by stupid and vulgar entertainment. The fact that ‘the secret son’ story has already reached mythic proportions (see recent DVD and films) is revealing of the rapidly deteriorating standards in the present market society. Callas “sells” – and this is perhaps the only thing that matters.
     It is more than disturbing and infuriating that this much-ballyhooed trashy novel, which is a disgrace and an insult to Callas, has been uncritically accepted by some reviewers20 and Callas-experts instead of prompting an outpouring of indignation. As a result EMI, by championing Greek Fire on its Maria Callas website (cf. section ‘Articles’), has the dubious distinction of being an accomplice to the selling and spreading of Gage’s baby story. For the sake of historical truth, this myth must be challenged and exposed at every turn for what it is: an outright fairy tale.

©2005 by Brigitte Pantis
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 03, 2010, 01:31:06 PM
(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/naxos811030001.jpg)  vs  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SU7zp2ERL._AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000TIO4Z0/ref=dp_otherviews_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&img=2)
 
La Traviata 1953 studio performance conducted by Santini
I purchased several of the Naxos Callas series a while ago but just now getting around to comparing them to other versions. Ward Marston of Naxos is restoration engineer and I think he uses CEDAR system but no info in booklet. EU only has 50 year copywright so many of Callas performances now showing up at Naxos (no USA sales) and Marston gets best vinyl available to make each release.......
 
There should be no way a copy from record can sound better than EMI company with original studio master tapes but I prefer Naxos sound for 1953 Studio La Traviata conducted by Santini. Naxos has warmer quieter more natural sound.....purists would say the top end has been rolled off and sound enhanced but who cares I really think it sounds better, have to check a couple other samples to see if Naxos can repeat this miracle for other Callas operas......
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 03, 2010, 05:18:06 PM
(http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/t_200/naxos811032527.jpg)   VS  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51itF9UxNYL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B000002RXP/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
Another test 1954 studio Norma conductor Serafin, here I give the edge to the EMI recording with a slightly cleaner purer treble and more presence and air around things, sounds deeper in the soundstage are clearer.....as you would expect with having original studio master tape. Naxos sound restoration by Mark Obert Thorn
 
Not sure what happened with 1953 studio La Traviata since Naxos has better sound there......
 
 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Lethevich on September 04, 2010, 04:32:30 AM
The problem with the majors and historical recordings is that they all remaster them aggressively, putting their faith in the latest "super technology" to win over casual fans who want the smoothest sound possible. Unfortunately this sounds really murky and bad to everybody else - so it is indeed a total waste of their master tapes :( Nowadays I don't think the majors have people who even like classical music making decisions about these releases.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 04, 2010, 08:31:23 PM
just to clear up any possible confusion from an earlier remark of mine downthread.

I realized today that Callas's first Norma studio recording, while it is the one which is part of Brilliant's Opera Collection series (meaning licensed from EMI), is not the one released by EMI as part of its most recent budget series (under the rubric The Home of Opera)--that one is the second studio recording. 

So both recordings are now part of a budget series, not just the first one as I thought.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 05, 2010, 05:27:03 AM
I have never seen Callas in a live Norma performance, just recital arias........
 
Here is short clip someone found of actual Callas performance, what commanding presence
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiQRTN3FEcw&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiQRTN3FEcw&feature=related)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 11, 2010, 05:05:02 PM
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata17_.jpg)
 
Finally received my Divina label Norma...........excellent, bravo
(took about 10 days, payment through paypal, signature required on delivery)
 
The enhanced section just knocked my socks off, a treasure chest of Callas material.
The 128 photos are extremely high quality and click to enlarge to super size, many I have never seen before. The stage set photos for this Norma would make Zefferelli jealous, super deluxe especially the druid temple scences, copies of Norma program guide from theater, videos......where does this guy get this great stuff!
 
I have placed my order for Divina label Anna Bolena
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 11, 2010, 05:38:14 PM
There are one or two live performances I don't have, though I've heard most of them. LOL

 Actually, now that I think of it, I don't have the first studio Norma; the live La Scala of 1955 is so superior, and as a studio recording of the opera, I actually prefer the second, in stereo and with a superior supporting cast. Nor do I have the Lisbon La Travaiata, prefering, as I do, the Covent Garden performance of 1958. I do have the Giulini/La Scala one though.

TS maybe time to give the Lisbon Traviata another listen, there are some improved sound versions compared to the EMI black box version using original tapes cheapest being Myto:
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fEP0vu8qL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001C58N1K/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518ANF0NSGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0009K8L8E/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
Many at Amazon swear by the Pearl label Traviata, but very hard to find a copy now
 
I have the Myto 1958 Rescigno ROH "Traviata" but I think the Lisbon/Ghione/Myto is slightly better, and if I keep only one I go with Lisbon
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YnTsYGCqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001HADES2/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
The live Giulini "traviata" has such poor sound I rarely listen to it...............we need a Divina "traviata"
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 11, 2010, 05:53:56 PM

 cheapest being Myto:
 
I have the Myto Rescigno "Traviata" that you like but I think the Lisbon/Ghione/Myto is slightly better, and if I keep only one I go with Lisbon


General question not really confined to Callas--how is the sound quality of Myto, in general?  I've always held back from getting the one or two issues of theirs I've come across--my experience with these sort of "live" recordings has never been the best, and I'm afraid of getting just another recording I'll never actually play because of sound issues.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 12, 2010, 04:54:23 AM
General question not really confined to Callas--how is the sound quality of Myto, in general?  I've always held back from getting the one or two issues of theirs I've come across--my experience with these sort of "live" recordings has never been the best, and I'm afraid of getting just another recording I'll never actually play because of sound issues.

Myto is not especially known for working miracles in sound improvement with older 1950's live material like the Callas Traviata, but the Lisbon version I mention they do noticeably improve things compared to before with better source tapes.
 
You must be careful with any live Callas material from 1950s since many works are pretty poor sound for my taste.......like the EMI blue box Traviata with Giulini, Myto Lisbon/Ghione sounds much better
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mp6BC6-lL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000630Y/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 13, 2010, 02:18:59 AM


I have the Myto 1958 Rescigno ROH "Traviata" but I think the Lisbon/Ghione/Myto is slightly better, and if I keep only one I go with Lisbon
 

 
The live Giulini "traviata" has such poor sound I rarely listen to it...............we need a Divina "traviata"

We will have to agree to disagree on that point. IMO, the Lisbon does have a great deal to commend it, not least Alfredo Kraus's youthful Alfredo. Sereni is also excellent as Germont, though I marginally prefer Zanasi, but Ghione's rather four square, pedestrian conducting prevents Callas from giving the full dimension to Violetta, that she is able to under Resigno at Covent Garden, though I admit she is in slightly fresher voice in Lisbon.

I agree with you about the sound on the Giulini, but I would not want to be without such moments as the blistering intensity she brings to the Amami Alfredo section in this performance.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 13, 2010, 08:04:36 PM
Speaking of sound quality issues--
This morning I listened to Callas' studio recording of I Puritani, and was struck (again) by how bad it sounded--the mono effect was especially bad, dulling everything in sight, and Callas came off rather shrill. The only portion I liked was "Suoni la tromba", and of course Callas was not involved in that. 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518fE%2BRTxiL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
now issued in EMI's new budget opera format with this cover
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51P85iibEXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
but still the same remastering (1997)

So the question arises: is there a better Callas recording of Puritani? And is there any "modern" (meaning stereo era) recording of this opera you might suggest, even if it might not be Callas.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 14, 2010, 12:10:05 AM
Speaking of sound quality issues--
This morning I listened to Callas' studio recording of I Puritani, and was struck (again) by how bad it sounded--the mono effect was especially bad, dulling everything in sight, and Callas came off rather shrill. The only portion I liked was "Suoni la tromba", and of course Callas was not involved in that. 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518fE%2BRTxiL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
now issued in EMI's new budget opera format with this cover
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51P85iibEXL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
but still the same remastering (1997)

So the question arises: is there a better Callas recording of Puritani? And is there any "modern" (meaning stereo era) recording of this opera you might suggest, even if it might not be Callas.

I can't say which is the best remastering of the Callas I Puritani, as I haven't heard them all. Some would say that the very earliest pressing, issued in the early 1990s is the best, the digital remastering less aggressive than the the later ones. This is the one I have and Callas doesn't sound in the least shrill to me, apart from a few uncomfortable moments in the Vieni al tempio ensemble.

(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_7_aZpQb7lKM/SIgWKhwxH5I/AAAAAAAAAEE/IBIk55jM6cg/s320/capa.jpg)

The only other Callas I Puritani is a live performance from Mexico city in 1952. The performance is a bit of a mess though and the sound execrable.

Of modern recordings, choice will probably come down to the Sutherland (with Pavarotti, under Bonynge) or Caballe (with Kraus, under Muti). I marginally prefer the Caballe, though you don't get Sutherland's pyrotechnics and Kraus, however suavely he sings, is drier of tone than Pavarotti. Both recordings are complete, and the Callas is not. That said, I can't listen to either without hearing Callas in my mind's ear, so indelible is her impression on this music.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Franco on September 14, 2010, 06:05:22 AM
Arkiv Music is having an opera sale (http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/listPage.jsp?list_id=1927&page_size=100) - the Callas/Bernstein Medea  (http://www.arkivmusic.com/albumpage/59690-E718-5) is going for $14.99.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 14, 2010, 12:22:13 PM
I can't say which is the best remastering of the Callas I Puritani, as I haven't heard them all. Some would say that the very earliest pressing, issued in the early 1990s is the best, the digital remastering less aggressive than the the later ones. This is the one I have and Callas doesn't sound in the least shrill to me, apart from a few uncomfortable moments in the Vieni al tempio ensemble.
It was especially noticeable at that point...

Quote

Of modern recordings, choice will probably come down to the Sutherland (with Pavarotti, under Bonynge) or Caballe (with Kraus, under Muti). I marginally prefer the Caballe, though you don't get Sutherland's pyrotechnics and Kraus, however suavely he sings, is drier of tone than Pavarotti. Both recordings are complete, and the Callas is not. That said, I can't listen to either without hearing Callas in my mind's ear, so indelible is her impression on this music.

I have several Sutherland recordings (is there a major bel canto opera she didn't record?)--enough for my tastes already;  and only one of Caballe, so I should get the Caballe.  But I prefer Pavarotti to Kraus.  Oh, dear, oh dear--well, I guess I could always go for the traditional resolution of this problem.  Buy both.

BTW, are you sure the Callas recording is not complete?  The EMI liner notes explicitly call it a "complete recording".  (Unless that was just to contrast with the isolated recordings of arias discussed in the first part of the liner notes.)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 15, 2010, 12:03:17 AM

BTW, are you sure the Callas recording is not complete?  The EMI liner notes explicitly call it a "complete recording".  (Unless that was just to contrast with the isolated recordings of arias discussed in the first part of the liner notes.)

Not complete in the sense that it uses the cuts traditional at the time. Both the Bonynge and Muti versions are, I believe, note complete.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 15, 2010, 07:01:15 PM
Not complete in the sense that it uses the cuts traditional at the time. Both the Bonynge and Muti versions are, I believe, note complete.

I shoujld have thought of that. 
I was listening to the EMI 1953 Tosca earlier tonight.  Recorded five months after I Puritani, but it's amazing how much better the sonics are.  Producer/engineer teams were different, but I suspect the difference may have been in the location--Tosca at La Scala, Puritani at a church in Milan I have never otherwise heard of.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on September 27, 2010, 02:54:37 PM
TS
I placed an order for Divina label Norma.........if order is processed well I am next looking at this prize:
 
(http://www.divinarecords.com/catalogue/cata18_.jpg)
 
There is no EMI studio Anna Bolena, only the 1957 live version from La scala with conductor Gavazzeni.
I suspect Divina will again improve our sound quality, they have obtained original master tape to work from for this remaster.........Callas is an unstoppable elemental force of nature here

I can report that Divina does indeed have the best sound available for this live Anna Bolena, made from donated master tapes of BJR collection, any fan of Callas must have this!
 
Even more impressive is the stunning collection of 350+ extremely high quality photos contained on enhanced CD, vast majority I have never seen. The ones from Act III especially wonderful, Callas has her long hair down and she looks just stunning......these could grace any elite fashion magazine, better than any photos I have seen in any published book, priceless......... :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 27, 2010, 04:12:56 PM

I can report that Divina does indeed have the best sound available for this live Anna Bolena, made from donated master tapes of BJR collection, any fan of Callas must have this!
 
Even more impressive is the stunning collection of 350+ extremely high quality photos contained on enhanced CD, vast majority I have never seen. The ones from Act III especially wonderful, Callas has her long hair down and she looks just stunning......these could grace any elite fashion magazine, better than any photos I have seen in any published book, priceless......... :)

It seems then that I will indeed have to replace my EMI pressing with this Divina one. I actually have the first EMI issue, which mistakenly has a photo of Callas as Imogene in Il Pirata on the front cover. EMI did later change the cover, but it just goes to show how slapdash they were.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on January 24, 2011, 10:17:37 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVMTxXnSePY&feature=related

Not what the title says but a nice video showing the understatedness, yet power of her stage presence. And it's a video of her actually on stage which I didn't know existed!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 25, 2011, 01:24:30 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVMTxXnSePY&feature=related

Not what the title says but a nice video showing the understatedness, yet power of her stage presence. And it's a video of her actually on stage which I didn't know existed!

This is one of the only snippets (recorded for a news programme, I believe, of her 1964 Paris Norma. Even then, one can hear the voice still had great penetrative power, though she ducks the high option on the words io mieto. It was recorded at the dress rehearsal.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on February 01, 2011, 12:20:35 AM
I just got hold of the Callas Carmen. I have listened through to it a couple of times. It sounds very 'French' unlike, for example, the Karajan sets. I have enjoyed it a lot and it again points up what a pity is was that Callas did not move into Mezzo roles. It was issued in 1964, so late in her career, yet vocally it is terrific.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 01, 2011, 02:40:12 AM
I just got hold of the Callas Carmen. I have listened through to it a couple of times. It sounds very 'French' unlike, for example, the Karajan sets. I have enjoyed it a lot and it again points up what a pity is was that Callas did not move into Mezzo roles. It was issued in 1964, so late in her career, yet vocally it is terrific.

Mike

That's what I pointed out in the Carmen thread, Mike. I think it's one of the most French Carmens out there. I very much like the supporting cast too. Guiot was not a big star or a big name, but her Micaela strikes me as just right. There is a touch of vinegar in the voice, to be sure, but it's French wine vinegar, and she makes a plucky Micaela, which indeed she should be. Massard, too is good as Es Camillo and the comprimarii, chorus, orchestra and conductor are also French. Vickers may have made a better foil for this particular Carmen, but Gedda, whose French is impeccable, makes an excellent Jose. I also like Pretre's swift, no nonsense, approach to the score. I know it uses the now discredited Guiraud recitatives, but it is my favourite Carmen, and not just for Callas's startlingly original take on the role, dangereuse et belle, as Micaela describes her.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on February 01, 2011, 03:54:39 AM
Isn't it meant to sound spanish though? I love the Callas performance, and find Leontyne Price far too beautiful, noble and rounded a voice for this role.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on February 01, 2011, 07:08:15 AM
Gedda is a bit bland, but he was just so musical and with a first rate voice. Unlike Corelli or Vickers, it feels French. I don't mind whether it is sung or spoken recits. I like both ways of performing it.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 01, 2011, 09:09:41 AM
Isn't it meant to sound spanish though? I love the Callas performance, and find Leontyne Price far too beautiful, noble and rounded a voice for this role.

Actually no. The music is influenced by Spanish rhythms of course, but this is French music written by a French composer, and, to my mind, should sound French. If we were to follow up your idea, then Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Rossini's Il Barbiere di sivinglia should also sound Spanish. And, for all Puccini's use of authentic Chinese tunes in Turandot, does it sound Chinese? Absolutely not. It's Italian opera through and through. So is Aida, in which Verdi created his own brand of Egyptiana.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on February 25, 2011, 01:31:50 PM
I was sort of joking! One shudders to think what an Egyptian sounding Aida would be!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: czgirb on February 27, 2011, 07:46:20 PM
How about Sakkaris Record' The Greatest Years of Maria Callas set
Is it better in both performance and sound ????
Which records is highly recommended ????
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: czgirb on March 02, 2011, 10:57:02 PM
Please recommended a recording, which comes from that set
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 05, 2011, 02:25:35 PM
Please recommended a recording, which comes from that set

I don't know this set. But it can only be another issue of material that has been available before on other labels.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: czgirb on April 07, 2011, 04:57:33 PM
Does anybody know the following recording?

(http://img706.imageshack.us/img706/9291/001ae23emedium.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 07, 2011, 11:30:35 PM
Does anybody know the following recording?

(http://img706.imageshack.us/img706/9291/001ae23emedium.jpg)

The sound is pretty ropey, in the same category as the famous Aida with that top Eb in the Act II Finale.

As for the performance, this is Callas's first ever Leonora, and she hasn't fully sung in the role. There is some spectacular singing, it has to be said, but a few questionable choices regarding top notes and embellishments. When she sang it the following year at Naples, under the baton of Tullio Serafin, she had considerably refined her interpretation, possibly due to Serafin's influence. Interesting, though, how much she gets instinctively right even in this earlier performance. Baum is execrable, Simionato and Warren something of an asset.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on April 12, 2011, 02:49:42 PM
Just listened to her Liebestod (Dolce e Calmo!) - It's just extraordinary. What would the landscape of German opera have looked like if she'd focussed her attention there? Maybe she was more temperamentally suited to the Italian rep, but this is just wonderful!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 13, 2011, 05:22:54 AM
Just listened to her Liebestod (Dolce e Calmo!) - It's just extraordinary. What would the landscape of German opera have looked like if she'd focussed her attention there? Maybe she was more temperamentally suited to the Italian rep, but this is just wonderful!

Opinions are divided on her Wagner, but I think this recording is truly beautiful, and blow the fact that it's sung in Italian. This is a warm, womanly, feminine Isolde, not some Nordic goddess having a night off. Her legato, as usual, is well nigh impeccable, and reminds us what dividends can be reaped when a bel canto training is applied to Wagner. After all, all Wagner's original singers were trained in the bel canto tradition.

I also love her Kundry, the only complete Wagner role of hers that was recorded. Again, it is beautifully sung, not barked, and she makes a sensuous temptress.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on April 14, 2011, 04:17:34 AM
Apart from the fact that it's in Italian, what could possibly be the issue with the singing? It's just so good! And how old was she when she made this recording? Must have been very young.

Haven't heard her Kundry - an obvious next step it seems.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 15, 2011, 12:07:08 AM
Apart from the fact that it's in Italian, what could possibly be the issue with the singing? It's just so good! And how old was she when she made this recording? Must have been very young.

Haven't heard her Kundry - an obvious next step it seems.

If it's the Turin RAI recording, with Atturo Basile conducting, it was made just before her 26th birthday. She also recorded Casta Diva, and the Mad Scene from I Puritani at the same sessions. Both performances are superb, the Mad Scene from I Puritani never bettered, even by Callas herself in the complete recording of 1953, though that is pretty stunning too. The Bellini is the aria I most often play to Callas non believers. It usually strikes them dumb with disbelief.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on April 15, 2011, 12:55:43 AM
Such facility and power is difficult to imagine in todays opera singers - how lucky those audiences were.  Imagine being that supremely accomplished at anything aged 26...

If we look at the two biggest coloratura star sopranos today, Dessay and Damrau it hardly bears comparison. I find both hard to like most of the time - just the basic uglyness of the sound, and never the feeling of total ease as with their predecessors. Compare to Sills, Auger, Horne in the previous generation and then Callas, Sutherland of course... why is this?!

That is a stunning recording of the Puritani scene - have been listening over the past few days. I also very much like Sills, who seems to have equal facility in this role at least.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on April 15, 2011, 06:25:10 AM
I think her Kundry's overrated by her fans. Her approach is a veristic one, little if any trace of a real psycological portrait and she falls into some vocal exaggerations (in the low notes). The recording is so muffled that one cannot tell much more. I remember very well that Wagnerites have been always indifferent to this Kundry: recent Italian critics too. You can't deny she makes some impact, but that's not enough and Wagner's dramatic soprano wasn't close to Callas. A simple question of vocal "distribution", accento and affinity with the vocal writing.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on April 15, 2011, 06:28:03 AM
I think her Kundry's overrated by her fans. Her approach is a veristic one, little if any trace of a real psycological portrait and she falls into some vocal exaggerations (in the low notes). The recording is so muffled that one cannot tell much more. I remember very well that Wagnerites have been always indifferent to this Kundry: recent Italian critics too. You can't deny she makes some impact, but that's not enough and Wagner's dramatic soprano wasn't close to Callas. A simple question of vocal "distribution", accento and affinity with the vocal writing.

Haven't heard it yet, so cant comment. What about the Liebestod? Do you agree with me and Tsaraslondon about that at least?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on April 15, 2011, 06:58:55 AM
Good performance, remarkable for the fluent legato but marred by a blurred diction.
I'm very interested in Italian Wagner, but Callas' contribution isn't as valuable as that by earlier singers.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 21, 2011, 08:32:39 AM
Hey, I just found some rare clips of the awesome 1958 Lisbon Traviata.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSmItkgh94Q&feature=related

I don't remember seeing the 2nd scene from Act II ever. Also there are some shorts from the last Act. The inimitable fil di voce must be measured in microns.  It's amazing how Callas changed her voice according to the needs of the drama from act to act.


ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 21, 2011, 10:11:57 AM
Hey, I just found some rare clips of the awesome 1958 Lisbon Traviata.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSmItkgh94Q&feature=related

I don't remember seeing the 2nd scene from Act II ever. Also there are some shorts from the last Act. The inimitable fil di voce must be measured in microns.  It's amazing how Callas changed her voice according to the needs of the drama from act to act.


ZB

thank you so much for posting these clips, ZB. Even through the gloom, one can get an idea of what made Callas great.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on June 21, 2011, 03:39:41 PM
I didn't know that video. Thank you. It seems that legendary "Traviata" might still surprise us even after a recording from the Portuguese radio (much better than the in-house take that Emi's edited) surfaced a couple of years ago.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 04, 2011, 05:34:54 AM
I'm pretty sure it's the same performance, if only because I'm also pretty sure that only one of that series of performances exists in sound.

After this I listened to Renee Fleming's version. It's actually technically pretty stunning, though, as usual, she now and again indulges in infuriatingly unstylish crooning, and, taken on its own merits, would no doubt bring the house down, which indeed it does. But (isn't there always a but?) there is little of Callas's almost insolent ease, nor her imperious command. I was much more impressed by Fleming's performance than I expected to be, given that I don't normally like her in Italian opera, but it didn't thrill me.

I know you said you liked it, but I still just have to defend this recording which is one of my all time favourites in any genre of anything ever. (and also the next commenter is more negative). Fleming's absolutely on fire here, and in the last scene (or last 20 mins rather), those bottom Gs are terrifying, the top absolutely soaring, the coloratura completely thrilling. It's not fair to compare this to Callas I think - they're obviously very different creatures, and one was the greatest singing actress of all time - especially in this of all repertoire where Callas is supreme - who is going to measure up? Sadly (and predictably) her recent Met outings of this role have been nowhere near as successful - she just shouldn't be singing this stuff anymore. Also sadly, Diana Damrau is scheduled to sing this in a future Met season. Hmm....

Have been listening to the Callas Carmen this morning. Without compare. I find myself being irritated by the other characters because I'm just waiting for the next time she's going to sing. And the other singers are hardly slouches!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 05, 2011, 08:40:43 AM
This is rather touching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CL5yhQ1T7-g&NR=1
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 07, 2011, 12:27:37 AM
Very touching indeed. It's from the Callas documentary, Zeffirelli made shortly after Callas died, still, IMO. the best of the Callas documentaries. Caballe always held Callas in very hard regard, and Caballe was the only one of the then modern clutch of singers that Callas really appreciated. I believe she gave Caballe some of the jewellery she used to wear as Norma.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 07, 2011, 07:14:29 AM
Just watched the Barbara Walters and Mike Wallace interviews. The questions are so personal and intimate and rude, I'm amazed that she answered them.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on August 07, 2011, 01:20:03 PM
Callas was also very fond of Leyla Gencer.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 07, 2011, 11:38:19 PM
Callas was also very fond of Leyla Gencer.

Really? That's the first time I've heard that and I've read just about every Callas biography I could get my hands on.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on August 08, 2011, 03:43:57 PM
She attended a performance of the Verdi Requiem and conceded her approval. She even gave Gavazzeni a pleased look as Gencer took the difficult piano on a B-flat in the "Libera me". I must remember where I read about this, but I'm pretty sure Gavazzeni himself told it.

Harry
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 08, 2011, 09:41:52 PM
She attended a performance of the Verdi Requiem and conceded her approval. She even gave Gavazzeni a pleased look as Gencer took the difficult piano on a B-flat in the "Libera me". I must remember where I read about this, but I'm pretty sure Gavazzeni himself told it.

Harry

The Libera Me as far as I remember is choral preceded by a recitative. Do you mean the Salva Me

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 09, 2011, 01:46:09 AM
The Libera Me as far as I remember is choral preceded by a recitative. Do you mean the Salva Me

ZB

No he means the Libera me, which usually refers to the last section of the Requiem from the soprano's first recitative to the final muttered libera me at the end, and which includes the infamously difficult octave leap to a ppp Bb in alt on the word requiem.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 09, 2011, 03:19:13 AM
She attended a performance of the Verdi Requiem and conceded her approval. She even gave Gavazzeni a pleased look as Gencer took the difficult piano on a B-flat in the "Libera me". I must remember where I read about this, but I'm pretty sure Gavazzeni himself told it.

Harry

Funny. I've never come across that. I don't doubt you are right, but I was surprised because it is well known Callas was chary in her praise of other sopranos, particularly those who sang her repertoire. Caballe always stood out as the exception.

On the other hand she could be extremely generous to singers of other voice types. Teresa Berganza recalls with fondness her time working with Callas in Medea, remembering how kind Callas was towards her and how, when she sang Neris's aria over the supine body of Medea, Callas would remain absolutely motionless until the applause had died down.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on August 09, 2011, 05:04:55 AM
I have found it out. In a publication by La Scala: "Leyla Gencer 50 anni alla Scala". You can read it in the book and listen to Gencer's narrating the story in the DVD.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 10, 2011, 09:04:56 PM
No he means the Libera me, which usually refers to the last section of the Requiem from the soprano's first recitative to the final muttered libera me at the end, and which includes the infamously difficult octave leap to a ppp Bb in alt on the word requiem.

It's difficult to imagine that Callas would have complimented Gencer in this performance - a non-commercial, live recording here. She was obviously having a really off day, flat, and actually scooping up to the high Bb.
Verdi : MESSA DI REQUIEM - "Requiem" - Genova, 24.11.1967
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WIqYTAtt54

I would have recognized this part with the Bb better as Requiem, but OK, it is in the Libera Me section.  There is a quite impressive high C though just before end of the work on the last syllable of Libera Me where the soprano solo comes in. Maybe she meant that? But everything else was below standard. Was she one of these ladies who wants something so much, imagines it in her mind and then eventually comes to believe it?

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on August 11, 2011, 12:38:42 AM
It's difficult to imagine that Callas would have complimented Gencer in this performance - a non-commercial, live recording here. She was obviously having a really off day, flat, and actually scooping up to the high Bb.
Verdi : MESSA DI REQUIEM - "Requiem" - Genova, 24.11.1967
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WIqYTAtt54

I would have recognized this part with the Bb better as Requiem, but OK, it is in the Libera Me section.  There is a quite impressive high C though just before end of the work on the last syllable of Libera Me where the soprano solo comes in. Maybe she meant that? But everything else was below standard. Was she one of these ladies who wants something so much, imagines it in her mind and then eventually comes to believe it?
ZB

Yes - this "pleased look" sounds like wish fulfillment. How could this ever be confirmed?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on August 11, 2011, 03:29:19 AM
No, Gavazzeni is very clear. It was the b-flat. The performance in discussion is not the one Callas attended. I'll check the date, but I'm sure it's from the early days of Gencer in Italy.

By 1967 heavy roles had taken its toll on Gencer. She always resorted to glottal stops to take di forza top notes, but at that time it has become a continuos gimmick.

Yes - this "pleased look" sounds like wish fulfillment. How could this ever be confirmed?

By reading Gavazzeni's account or watching the DVD I mentioned?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Harry Powell on August 11, 2011, 04:18:23 AM
Hi again

The Requiem performance took place in Milan's Duomo under de Sabata on February 18th 1957 to mark Toscanini's funerals. To tell the truth, just the Libera me section was performed and it was preceded by Beethoven's March from the "Eroica". It was de Sabata's last public appearance.

Gavazzeni: "Gencer had succesfully auditioned before de Sabata (...) I was seating behind Callas and her husband. When Gencer took the octave leap (on the word "Requiem") to a pianissimo B-flat, Callas turned towards me and made an expressive gesture of approval".

Harry.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 03, 2011, 05:13:15 AM
(http://www.icartists.co.uk/sites/default/files/imagecache/classics_cd_large/ICAC-5006_CALLAS_Verdi_cover.jpg)

This performance, IMO the best of all Callas's recorded Violettas has now finally been granted an official release.

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/ica%2Bclassics/ICAC5006 (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/ica%2Bclassics/ICAC5006)

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on December 04, 2011, 11:25:53 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbfjHjohWB8

just found this - delightful and unbelievably beautiful.

But then saw that Callas sang it too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=033d9g56vKw&feature=related To think that the same voice had sung Isolde... sort of beggars belief.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 04, 2011, 04:09:53 PM

But then saw that Callas sang it too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=033d9g56vKw&feature=related To think that the same voice had sung Isolde... sort of beggars belief.

And in fact she was singing Kundry only 5 months before this concert. The Proch variations are really very slight, and one wonders why Callas even bothered singing them, but, as always, she can make even dull music sound interesting. Pity about the excruciating recording quality though.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on December 05, 2011, 06:05:37 AM
And in fact she was singing Kundry only 5 months before this concert. The Proch variations are really very slight, and one wonders why Callas even bothered singing them, but, as always, she can make even dull music sound interesting. Pity about the excruciating recording quality though.

Amazing. The recording reveals a pristine voice though - those highnotes sound like those of a shimmering soubrette! Though presumably with enough volume to destroy a glass factory.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on December 09, 2011, 07:28:27 PM
(http://www.icartists.co.uk/sites/default/files/imagecache/classics_cd_large/ICAC-5006_CALLAS_Verdi_cover.jpg)

This performance, IMO the best of all Callas's recorded Violettas has now finally been granted an official release.

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/ica%2Bclassics/ICAC5006 (http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/ica%2Bclassics/ICAC5006)

I think this is the same performance as this Myto label release, very good indeed.
I also like the Lisbon performance with Krauss from same label.....
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YnTsYGCqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001HADES2/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fEP0vu8qL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001C58N1K/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)
 
 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 10, 2011, 01:53:37 AM
I think this is the same performance as this Myto label release, very good indeed.
I also like the Lisbon performance with Krauss from same label.....
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51YnTsYGCqL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001HADES2/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fEP0vu8qL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B001C58N1K/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

There seems to be some dispute on Amazon as to which of the two releases of the London performance has the best sound. Either way, I still prefer the London performance, despite the absaence of Kraus. Valletti is, anyway, a near ideal Alfredo and Zanasi is superior to Sereni. I also prefer Rescigno's discreet, yet lyrical conducting to the rather four square Ghione. Callas is superb in both performances, but, though she is in marginally fresher voice in Lisbon, by some strange alchemy, it is the London performance that is the most cogently moving - one of those nights where everything came together to produce a performance, which is almost unbearably moving. Sady, after two more performances in a Zeffirelli production in Dallas, Callas never sang the role again.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: DarkAngel on December 10, 2011, 06:19:24 AM
There seems to be some dispute on Amazon as to which of the two releases of the London performance has the best sound. Either way, I still prefer the London performance, despite the absaence of Kraus. Valletti is, anyway, a near ideal Alfredo and Zanasi is superior to Sereni. I also prefer Rescigno's discreet, yet lyrical conducting to the rather four square Ghione. Callas is superb in both performances, but, though she is in marginally fresher voice in Lisbon, by some strange alchemy, it is the London performance that is the most cogently moving - one of those nights where everything came together to produce a performance, which is almost unbearably moving. Sady, after two more performances in a Zeffirelli production in Dallas, Callas never sang the role again.

Agree that Rescigno ROH has the better orchestral touch compared to the Ghione Lisbon version.
EMI has used the Ghione performance (black) for thier release, have recently been revisiting the 1955 Giulini (blue) although the sound is more compromised (especially first several tracks of CD 2) the dramatic vocal heights reached here are a real marvel, her follie/sempre libera section is unleashed with such dramatic impact makes me spellbound to her magic

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51fZi1envKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)   (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mp6BC6-lL._SL500_AA300_.jpg) (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B00000630Y/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=5174&s=music)

Best sound quality Callas Traviata is the 1953 studio Santini recorded for Cetra label, but available in the EMI studio boxset for Callas
Many small labels have this performance and an excellent remaster available through Naxos
 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 10, 2011, 02:49:28 PM


Best sound quality Callas Traviata is the 1953 studio Santini recorded for Cetra label, but available in the EMI studio boxset for Callas
Many small labels have this performance and an excellent remaster available through Naxos

I suppose it is, though, considering that it's a studio recording, the sound isn't that good, and, of all the roles she sang, Violetta is the one which went through the greatest alchemy. Her performances became ever more subtle and restrained. Maybe that's why I love the London performance so much. Some might say that greater vocal fallibility lead her to greater vocal subtlety, the means dictating the, art so to speak. Either way, very few singers have come anywhere near getting to the heart of Verdi's most sympathetic heroine as Callas has done, though some may have sung it more prettily.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on December 25, 2011, 11:35:17 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbfjHjohWB8

just found this - delightful and unbelievably beautiful.

But then saw that Callas sang it too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=033d9g56vKw&feature=related To think that the same voice had sung Isolde... sort of beggars belief.

For sure the unclear recording doesn't do her justice. But the Callas' passion sort of bursts through more than the expected dulcet coloratura of a soubrette.  (I'd like to find a Rita Streich version, if it exists.)

Meanwhile, by way of comparison, here is Mado Robin in the Proch Variations. The Italian is a bit strange. I would have though it coming from an English speaker - nevermind. The coup-de-grace Bb in alt is stunning.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZWnLdnbrGU&feature=related

If a soprano can sing this fiendishly difficult piece well, she can be hired on the spot.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 04, 2012, 09:41:51 AM
Can anyone tell me more about Callas' dislike of Tosca? What was it that she disliked? Did she dislike all Puccini, or just this opera?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 04, 2012, 03:39:46 PM
Can anyone tell me more about Callas' dislike of Tosca? What was it that she disliked? Did she dislike all Puccini, or just this opera?

It is pretty well documented that she didn't have much time for Puccini. The great Italian composers for her were Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and of course Verdi, composers who wrote extensively and beautifully for the voice. The skills she had worked so hard to attain, and which enabled her to render the music of these compoers with such accuracy, are hardly necessary in Puccini and the rest of the verismo school, which require only a good solid production, but no real flexibiilty. This is no doubt why she regarded them with such antipathy. Interestingly, she states in one of her interviews, that Tosca's Vissi d'arte should be cut, as it holds up the drama. I can't imagine any other prima donna even countenancing such a thing.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 05, 2012, 04:06:02 AM
Haha amazing story re: the aria!

So the objection was only that it wasn't challenging vocally enough? Or did she object to the characters/libretti/musical substance too? Wagner doesn't require much flexibility either...

(sorry for asking - I have tried googling extensively, but can't find anything).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 05, 2012, 10:51:31 AM
Haha amazing story re: the aria!

So the objection was only that it wasn't challenging vocally enough? Or did she object to the characters/libretti/musical substance too? Wagner doesn't require much flexibility either...

(sorry for asking - I have tried googling extensively, but can't find anything).

I believe she didn't think Puccini's music on a par with that of her favourites, nor the subject matter. I have to say I agree with her. Puccini was a great man of the theatre and his operas work brilliantly on the stage, but I don't feel he has the depth or the breadth of Verdi. You can't imagine Puccini doing justice to a subject like Don Carlos, or even La Traviata. (Nor, for that matter, do we come across a character with the depth and complexity of Norma.) Like Shakespeare, there is a uiversality about Verdi's work that we don't find in Puccini.




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 05, 2012, 05:48:48 PM
I believe she didn't think Puccini's music on a par with that of her favourites, nor the subject matter. I have to say I agree with her. Puccini was a great man of the theatre and his operas work brilliantly on the stage, but I don't feel he has the depth or the breadth of Verdi. You can't imagine Puccini doing justice to a subject like Don Carlos, or even La Traviata. (Nor, for that matter, do we come across a character with the depth and complexity of Norma.) Like Shakespeare, there is a uiversality about Verdi's work that we don't find in Puccini.

I do of course agree about Verdi (though wouldn't quite put him on a level with Shakespeare, but I very much know what you're getting at here), but don't about Puccini - as drama it seems cheap, designed to appeal to the lowest in us, but very effective for that - it's made of high impact, shocking things, all tricks and effects, superb arias held together with music of extraordinary banality. It's good drama in the way that Dan Brown's Da Vinci code is a good book - he knows exactly what he's doing with his materials, and it holds you in its grip whilst you're experiencing it, even whilst you acknowledge its paucity of artistic resource and recourse to cliche, but it's highly effective in its own way. At the end though one feels absolutely no sense of spiritual uplift of even of having witnessed something truly tragic - we get our dose of emotion and leave the theatre unchanged and unreflecting.

Was just interested to hear Callas' take on it. Of course she famously disliked Mozart too, which is difficult to fathom for most of us who love opera, but when you hear her sing it, you understand why she had her misgivings perhaps - it just seems like child's play to her - she sings it perfectly as if there's nothing to it and there's absolutely no sense of risk or challenge when she sings it. Also the voice is hardly timbrally suited to her, which in Mozart is absolutely key.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 06, 2012, 02:16:01 AM

Was just interested to hear Callas' take on it. Of course she famously disliked Mozart too, which is difficult to fathom for most of us who love opera, but when you hear her sing it, you understand why she had her misgivings perhaps - it just seems like child's play to her - she sings it perfectly as if there's nothing to it and there's absolutely no sense of risk or challenge when she sings it. Also the voice is hardly timbrally suited to her, which in Mozart is absolutely key.

Callas once made a comment that she found most of Mozart's music dull, and it dogs her to this day. She also said that Mozart was often sung too delicately, as if the singer was performing on tip toes, and that it should be sung with the same open frankness one sang, say, Leonora, in il Trovatore. Considering the Mozartian grace with which she sings Leonora, one can see her point. I know many don't feel the same, but I absolutely love her early test recording of Non mi dir, partly because it is sung with such ease, and refulgent tone, and of course perfect legato.

She did, as you probably know, sing Kostanze on stage at La Scala, and must have made an electrifying impression, if her performances of Martern aller Arten are anything to go by.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 06, 2012, 11:52:19 PM
I do of course agree about Verdi (though wouldn't quite put him on a level with Shakespeare, but I very much know what you're getting at here), but don't about Puccini - as drama it seems cheap, designed to appeal to the lowest in us, but very effective for that - it's made of high impact, shocking things, all tricks and effects, superb arias held together with music of extraordinary banality. It's good drama in the way that Dan Brown's Da Vinci code is a good book - he knows exactly what he's doing with his materials, and it holds you in its grip whilst you're experiencing it, even whilst you acknowledge its paucity of artistic resource and recourse to cliche, but it's highly effective in its own way. At the end though one feels absolutely no sense of spiritual uplift of even of having witnessed something truly tragic - we get our dose of emotion and leave the theatre unchanged and unreflecting.
I realize this is a Callas thread, but taking pot shots at Puccini is unwarrented. Maybe he leaves you unchanged and unfeeling, but that is not the case with many (most?) others. In Tosca, you cannot help but wonder what might have happened if events had gone differently. When Cavaradossi sings 'Victorria', this is perhaps the most thrilling moment in all of opera (and really brings drama to the moment). Or in La Boheme, at the end when she dies, it is very real and connects with most people. Turandot is not really very human, but Liu makes up for that, and I often leave that opera thinking about people who love someone, but never get that love returned (despite the devotion, et al that they bring). 

Paucity of artisitc resource - what? The music is so beautiful and so well orchestrated - it's like you and I are in parallel universes when we listen.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 08, 2012, 02:21:15 AM
I realize this is a Callas thread, but taking pot shots at Puccini is unwarrented. Maybe he leaves you unchanged and unfeeling, but that is not the case with many (most?) others. In Tosca, you cannot help but wonder what might have happened if events had gone differently. When Cavaradossi sings 'Victorria', this is perhaps the most thrilling moment in all of opera (and really brings drama to the moment). Or in La Boheme, at the end when she dies, it is very real and connects with most people. Turandot is not really very human, but Liu makes up for that, and I often leave that opera thinking about people who love someone, but never get that love returned (despite the devotion, et al that they bring). 

Paucity of artisitc resource - what? The music is so beautiful and so well orchestrated - it's like you and I are in parallel universes when we listen.

I wouldn't say it was a potshot - this is a considered opinion after listening carefully to most of his operas (haven't heard the very early one/ones). I think he's a master of what he does but also think his best are the early ones: Manon and Boheme.

Callas obviously thought there was something wrong with Puccini to disparage his music so publicly, which is why I mention my own misgivings - I wonder how much we would have agreed. Sounds like, from what Tsaraslondon was saying that she agreed that there is a lack of convincing drama.

You are right that we must be looking for very different things in opera, though for me beauty and good orchestration are prerequisites, rather than ends in themselves.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 08, 2012, 09:40:55 AM
Besides a definitive Floria Tosca, she was also the quintessential Cio-Cio-San and Mimì.

Her penetration into the character of Butterfly is uncanny, going into such detail that most singers would not have bothered. One moment among many is when she is questioned by the Consul, somehow she got into the skin of a young girl and really sounds 15. Another is her "dimmi su" (tell me) when asking or rather pummeling Suzuki why Pinkerton made such arrangements for their protection, she could have burned a hole in the ground with that sizzling "sssss".

But on the subject of adolescence, and I don't know if this subject ever came up here, was she Nina Foresti , March 1935, singing "Un bel dì" on Major Bowes Amateur Hour? The speaking voice could be hers but it is difficult to imagine the future singer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCK29If2pUI

These two links are fascinating, an actual letter to the Radio Show and the audition application.

http://www.mariacallasmuseum.org/_documents/mc-doc-005.htm
"...Considering such modest training, it is possible that Mary Ann learned the music she performed in public between 1934 and 1937 mainly by listening to records and radio programs. Since Callas always had an impeccable ear, learning to sing “Un bel di” by imitating the singing style and timbral characteristics heard on a recording would have posed no difficulty. This might explain why neither Nina Foresti’s singing nor her timbre, curiously mature-sounding for an eleven-year old girl, resemble anything known to have been recorded by Callas from 1949 to 1977."

http://www.mariacallasmuseum.org/_documents/mc-doc-006.htm
I don't understand the convolutedness of hiding behind yet another pseudonym, Anita Duval. But the handwriting could be hers, even if it is somewhat advanced for a girl who just turned 11 a few months before.

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 11, 2012, 11:28:03 AM
Besides a definitive Floria Tosca, she was also the quintessential Cio-Cio-San and Mimì.

Her penetration into the character of Butterfly is uncanny, going into such detail that most singers would not have bothered. One moment among many is when she is questioned by the Consul, somehow she got into the skin of a young girl and really sounds 15. Another is her "dimmi su" (tell me) when asking or rather pummeling Suzuki why Pinkerton made such arrangements for their protection, she could have burned a hole in the ground with that sizzling "sssss".

But on the subject of adolescence, and I don't know if this subject ever came up here, was she Nina Foresti , March 1935, singing "Un bel dì" on Major Bowes Amateur Hour? The speaking voice could be hers but it is difficult to imagine the future singer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCK29If2pUI

These two links are fascinating, an actual letter to the Radio Show and the audition application.

http://www.mariacallasmuseum.org/_documents/mc-doc-005.htm
"...Considering such modest training, it is possible that Mary Ann learned the music she performed in public between 1934 and 1937 mainly by listening to records and radio programs. Since Callas always had an impeccable ear, learning to sing “Un bel di” by imitating the singing style and timbral characteristics heard on a recording would have posed no difficulty. This might explain why neither Nina Foresti’s singing nor her timbre, curiously mature-sounding for an eleven-year old girl, resemble anything known to have been recorded by Callas from 1949 to 1977."

http://www.mariacallasmuseum.org/_documents/mc-doc-006.htm
I don't understand the convolutedness of hiding behind yet another pseudonym, Anita Duval. But the handwriting could be hers, even if it is somewhat advanced for a girl who just turned 11 a few months before.

ZB

Though she only once sang Butterfly on stage in Chicago, shortly after the studio recording was made). Mimi and Manon she never sang on stage, and much though I enjoy her in these roles, (in her hands, Butterfly beccomes geniuine tragedy, rather than the sentimental pot boiler it can often seem), I do rather wish Legge had made studio recordings of some of the roles she sang more often on stage, particularly Anna Bolena and Macbeth.

Early in her career she sang Turandot quite a lot, and is quoted as saying she hoped and prayed she'd emerge with her voice in tact. She gave up the role as soon as she could . Even Tosca was less important to her career than the bel canto roles, for which she became famous. That she is so much associated with the role is due to the success of the 1953 De Sabata recording, still, arguably, the best available, and to the famous Zeffirelli production at Covent Garden, which forever changed peope's perceptions of how the role should be performed. Vocally, though, she was hardly a patch on her earlier self. Incidentally, after making the recording in 1953 she hardly sang the role again, apart from a couple of times at the Met, until Zeffirelli convinced her to make it the role of her come back at Covent Garden in 1964. Typically she would only agree if they could also do Norma, which she sang at the Paris Opera, though by that time her voice was clearly not what it was even 4 or 5 years before, and though her concept of the part was, if anything, more eloquent than ever, her voice often let her down. Where she could wing through Tosca, letting the drama and music carry her, Norma was a much greater challenge.

I thought the Nina Foresti tape had now been discredited - sure I read it somewhere. I'll try to find the source and post it here.





Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 16, 2012, 06:31:19 PM
Late night youtube watching dangerous - one video leads to another which leads to another...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CITvRM3XdY

that for instance. Did any mezzo sing it as well? OK she's way past her prime, the top notes are squally, but dear Jesus, what a sound, what expression, what singing! I also LOVE her London Carmen arias.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 17, 2012, 04:08:45 AM
Late night youtube watching dangerous - one video leads to another which leads to another...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CITvRM3XdY

that for instance. Did any mezzo sing it as well? OK she's way past her prime, the top notes are squally, but dear Jesus, what a sound, what expression, what singing! I also LOVE her London Carmen arias.

I couldn't agree more. Though the voice falters, her intention is never in any doubt.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 17, 2012, 04:35:02 AM
Late night youtube watching dangerous - one video leads to another which leads to another...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CITvRM3XdY

that for instance. Did any mezzo sing it as well? OK she's way past her prime, the top notes are squally, but dear Jesus, what a sound, what expression, what singing! I also LOVE her London Carmen arias.
Better than usual. First time I can remember when I didn't want to turn it off after 5 seconds of her screeching! :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 17, 2012, 04:50:48 AM
Better than usual. First time I can remember when I didn't want to turn it off after 5 seconds of her screeching! :)

Then all I can assume is that you have never heard any of Callas at her peak, and are making judgements based solely on her later recordings, which even I admit can be something of a trial, though I am generally won over by the musical imagination.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: mc ukrneal on March 17, 2012, 05:10:33 AM
Then all I can assume is that you have never heard any of Callas at her peak, and are making judgements based solely on her later recordings, which even I admit can be something of a trial, though I am generally won over by the musical imagination.


Ok, the 'screeching' comment was a cheap shot. Sorry. But nope. I've heard a number of her recordings. I don't hold the later recordings against her - mother nature catches up to us all and that is too easy to criticize. I've always had two problems with her voice: 1) Out of tune too much and 2) That irritating vibrato/beat (well, irritating for me anyway). On #2, it is possible that the older recordings are emphasizing something that wasn't as acute as I hear it. But I listen to these, for example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM9t6azei-E&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM9t6azei-E&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8ThxRV6VNw&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8ThxRV6VNw&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeOek51Y2TI&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeOek51Y2TI&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdejQlMlrEM&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdejQlMlrEM&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFggRqk16Zo&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFggRqk16Zo&feature=related) (this one is the best of the lot in my opinion)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SRndMZDGz0&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SRndMZDGz0&feature=related)

...and I remain disappointed. I've heard several of her EMI recordings too. I've always wondered if I would have a different view had I heard her live.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 17, 2012, 11:17:27 AM
Ok, the 'screeching' comment was a cheap shot. Sorry. But nope. I've heard a number of her recordings. I don't hold the later recordings against her - mother nature catches up to us all and that is too easy to criticize. I've always had two problems with her voice: 1) Out of tune too much and 2) That irritating vibrato/beat (well, irritating for me anyway). On #2, it is possible that the older recordings are emphasizing something that wasn't as acute as I hear it. But I listen to these, for example:
...and I remain disappointed. I've heard several of her EMI recordings too. I've always wondered if I would have a different view had I heard her live.

In the O Don Fatale aria, Callas is more than a match for the full orchestra. And by the way, her last two notes are slightly sharp, which is acoustically acceptable for such high notes. At least one of my teachers pointed this out.

As for the others, you didn't seem to choose even the best recordings. I tend to prefer those done in the studio for Macbeth. Here is the letter scene and you can follow the score as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb3SM95uyQ8&feature=related

"Out, damn'd spot! out, I say! The perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x7lQWXmalc&feature=related

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 18, 2012, 04:45:52 AM
That Trovatore (your favourite one) you linked to is amazing. Truly astonishing.

Sometimes I almost like the slightly later recordings more, when she's struggling a bit to control the voice. Sometimes there can be even more intensity there, the sheer will to expression winning out. Perverse I know, and the perfection of her prime is just unbelievable, but there we are. I like it all really (apart from those sad final concerts).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: mjwal on March 18, 2012, 07:38:20 AM
I wouldn't say it was a potshot - this is a considered opinion after listening carefully to most of his operas (haven't heard the very early one/ones). I think he's a master of what he does but also think his best are the early ones: Manon and Boheme.

Callas obviously thought there was something wrong with Puccini to disparage his music so publicly, which is why I mention my own misgivings - I wonder how much we would have agreed. Sounds like, from what Tsaraslondon was saying that she agreed that there is a lack of convincing drama.

You are right that we must be looking for very different things in opera, though for me beauty and good orchestration are prerequisites, rather than ends in themselves.
It is of course on record that Puccini himself considered dropping "Vissi d'arte" for the same reason given by Callas. Joseph Kerman in his Opera as Drama dismissed the work as a "shabby little shocker", an opinion shared by Benjamin Britten. I am in two minds about both the work and the aria - sometimes I think the most appropriate interpretation was given by Michael Aspinall (almost as good as his "Erlkönig") - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIfnKhTJw14 - though I think I prefer the version s/he did on the LP.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on March 18, 2012, 10:13:07 AM
It is of course on record that Puccini himself considered dropping "Vissi d'arte" for the same reason given by Callas. Joseph Kerman in his Opera as Drama dismissed the work as a "shabby little shocker", an opinion shared by Benjamin Britten.

Well, "Vissi d'arte" is not a long piece, shorter than "Un bel di". Puccini in stagecraft was not a dunce. And these are not conventional arias in the sense of Rossini or Verdi where they might be in 3 parts.

I like Magda Olivero's concept (although not completely her singing) as though she is in shock, even panic, rather than standing like a statue and emoting.  They have her standing in front of Scarpia, though, which is a bit strange. At least Callas in Covent Garden was on other side of the stage from him.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaIPjW1u1TE

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 20, 2012, 09:27:11 AM
Ok, the 'screeching' comment was a cheap shot. Sorry. But nope. I've heard a number of her recordings. I don't hold the later recordings against her - mother nature catches up to us all and that is too easy to criticize. I've always had two problems with her voice: 1) Out of tune too much and 2) That irritating vibrato/beat (well, irritating for me anyway). On #2, it is possible that the older recordings are emphasizing something that wasn't as acute as I hear it. But I listen to these, for example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM9t6azei-E&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM9t6azei-E&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8ThxRV6VNw&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8ThxRV6VNw&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeOek51Y2TI&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeOek51Y2TI&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdejQlMlrEM&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdejQlMlrEM&feature=related)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFggRqk16Zo&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFggRqk16Zo&feature=related) (this one is the best of the lot in my opinion)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SRndMZDGz0&feature=related (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SRndMZDGz0&feature=related)

...and I remain disappointed. I've heard several of her EMI recordings too. I've always wondered if I would have a different view had I heard her live.


Well you and I (and millions of others) must have very different ears. I listened to all of the excerpts above and didn't hear any out of tune singing (though I heard quite a bit of off pitch orchestral playing). Nor did I hear excessive vibrato or beat. What I did hear was superior musicianship, incredible breath control and superb legato.

Taking the recordings in the order you placed them, I would agree that this Casta diva is not her best. I am not sure of its provenance. John Ardoin in The Callas Legacy states that all that survives of the 1949 Buenos Aires performance is the O rimembranza duet (with Fedora Barbieri. It could be the Mexico performance from the following year I suppose. Either way the sound is pretty bad, the orchestral playing execrable and Callas, singing with a deal of occluded tone, doesn't bring her usual air of mystery to the aria, though the gruppetti are, as usual, exquisite.

Next up is the first of the two Leonora arias in your selection. This was only the second time she was singing the role on stage, and the first time with Serafin as conductor. She keeps Verdi's written top D in the cadenza here, which she later drops, obvously thinking the note obtrudes on the wonderful nocturnal atmosphere she creates. The note is rock solid (without a trace of wobble, beat or excessive vibrato), but it is too loud, and she was wise to make the adjustments she makes in the later La Scala performance. Otherwise her singing is a wonder of detail and elasticity, those trills emerging as the sighs of a wounded sole.

The Macbeth aria and cabaletta were recorded for a radio broadcast, and this was their first public outing, almost a year before she sang the role at La Scala. They are a further example of how Callas could create theatre for the mind without the benefit of stage costume or scenery. Though De Fabritiis takes both the aria and cabaletta a mite too slowly (De Sabata paces them perfectly at La Scala), Callas's voice is in such splendid shape and so supple that she renders the score with an accuracy that is uncanny. Note the way she carries out Verdi's instruction to sing the rising phrase Accetta il dono, ascendivi a regnar con slancio, as he requests, observing the sforzando markings, and yet maintaing her superb legato. Again her voice is rock solid, with ringing high notes. This is singing on the highest level.

As it is again, in this second performance of Leonora's D'amor sul'ali rosee. I note this is your favoutite, and, perhaps not coincidentally, it benefits from better orcehstral playing from the La Scala orchestra (and better sound). Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was at this performance and was heard to utter, tears streaming down her face, "That woman is a miracle." High praise indeed from one of the hardest task masters in all opera. Callas's breath control is prodigious, the phrases spun out and coloured almost weightlessly. Unerringly she captures the nocturnal mood of this beautiful piece.

The last Macbeth aria is actually the same as the first, so no need to comment, except to say the sound is slighly better here.

I realise there are, and have always been, some who are deaf to the miracle that is Callas, though they appear to be in an even smaller minority now, almost 50 years after her final operatic appearance, than they were when she was still singing. I doubt anything I say, or anyone else says for that matter, will change their attitude. That she is still being discussed and is still contraversial is surely testament to her greatness. Victor De Sabata once said, "If the public could understand, as we do, how deeply musical she is, then it would be amazed." The more I listen to her, the more amazed I am.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 22, 2012, 03:35:00 AM
Did Callas ever comment on Schwarzkopf?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 22, 2012, 09:47:51 AM
Did Callas ever comment on Schwarzkopf?

Actually I don't know. That she admired Schwarzkopf, though, is not in doubt. There is a famous occasion when they were lunching at Biffi Scala. Callas turned to Schwarzkopf and said, "Elisabeth, show me how you sing top As and Bs and make a diminuendo on them. Walter says mine make him sea sick." Schwarzkopf at first demurred as they were in the restaurant, but eventually started singing, much to the amusement of the other diners, whilst Callas prodded her rib cage and diaphragm. Callas then sang the same notes full voice, whilst Schwarzkopf did the same to her. "Thanks, I think I've got it. I'll let you know how it goes." This was during the recording of La Forza Del Destino. As can be heard on the recording, Callas didn't completely solve the problem, though hers is still arguably the greatest Leonora on disc, and I am not forgetting Leontyne Price.

Incidentally Schwarzkopf also relates how when Legge first heard Callas, he had left Schwarzkopf at their hotel. He rang her at the interval to ask her to join him, telling her he was seeing a wonderful soprano. Schwarzkopf refused, saying that she was listening to a radio broadcast, also featuring a tremendous soprano and wild horses wouldn't drag her away. The soprano in question? None other than Maria Callas.

She also said that after she heard Callas sing La Traviata, she never again sang the role. For her Callas's Violetta was perfection and she decided never again to attempt it.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 23, 2012, 11:15:45 AM
That famous story shows she admired her technique. I wonder what she would have thought of her protrayals? Too fussy, too artificial? Or would she have appreciated the fidelity to the text. How about the scooping portamenti, so much more extreme than Fleming's, and so different on the whole from Callas' own portamenti?

Schwarzkopf as Violetta is hard for me to imagine... I'm sure she would have sung it beautifully, but could that voice, that person really be a convincing prostitute?... I guess Verdi's opera makes it hard for us to imagine Violetta as a prostitute anyway - sentimentalised as it is.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 23, 2012, 11:25:19 AM
. I guess Verdi's opera makes it hard for us to imagine Violetta as a prostitute anyway - sentimentalised as it is.

Well when one thinks prostitute, one tends to think someone who walks the streets. Violetta was a long way from that, a courtesan, a career woman, as so many of them were in those days. But I take your point, Schwarzkopf hardly comes to mind as type casting, but then neither does Sutherland, who sang the role quite a lot.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 23, 2012, 11:25:29 AM
I remember reading that Fleming had had portamentos explained to her in a masterclass while Fleming was studying in Germany - for italian repertoire vibrato is applied during the portamento, and for german repertoire there is no vibrato. Of course it's not so strict as this in reality, but these are the guidelines that Schwarzkopf saw as good style.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 23, 2012, 11:31:36 AM
I remember reading that Fleming had had portamentos explained to her in a masterclass while Fleming was studying in Germany - for italian repertoire vibrato is applied during the portamento, and for german repertoire there is no vibrato. Of course it's not so strict as this in reality, but these are the guidelines that Schwarzkopf saw as good style.

What bothers me about Flemings portamenti is that stylistically they sound wrong somehow, almost like a jazz singer. This is what I find annoying on her most recent recording of the Vier letzte Lieder. So much of the singing is superb and beaitifully moulded, when suddenly she spoils the effect with some jazzy swooping, which, to my ears, sounds entirely out of place.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 23, 2012, 11:58:54 AM
Well when one thinks prostitute, one tends to think someone who walks the streets. Violetta was a long way from that, a courtesan, a career woman, as so many of them were in those days. But I take your point, Schwarzkopf hardly comes to mind as type casting, but then neither does Sutherland, who sang the role quite a lot.


Yes, but the idea of a courtesan being reformed and loyal only to one man is sentimental verging on the ridiculous.

Sutherland never seems to speak to me in any role...

Quote
What bothers me about Flemings portamenti is that stylistically they sound wrong somehow, almost like a jazz singer. This is what I find annoying on her most recent recording of the Vier letzte Lieder. So much of the singing is superb and beaitifully moulded, when suddenly she spoils the effect with some jazzy swooping, which, to my ears, sounds entirely out of place.

I have to say I usually love them. (the most recent Bel Canto attempts excepted). On that same disc, the very quick portamento up to the high piano Bb in Ein Schoenes war makes is the most beautiful I've ever heard. And she was 50 when that recording was made. I think that the Ariadne excerpt, along with Winterweihe, is the strongest portion of that disc.

Here's Fleming, slightly past her prime singing the Viljalied. Beautiful, though the last note hardly comes out!! I have never once heard this happen to her before.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xazJfGIZ-7w

And here's Schwarzkopf. Notice how much more common and laboured her portamenti are.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2jRkp6Ucho
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 23, 2012, 02:50:09 PM



Here's Fleming, slightly past her prime singing the Viljalied. Beautiful, though the last note hardly comes out!! I have never once heard this happen to her before.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xazJfGIZ-7w

And here's Schwarzkopf. Notice how much more common and laboured her portamenti are.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2jRkp6Ucho

Common and laboured are two of the last words I'd associate with Schwarzkopf's singing. She is usually criticised for being too aristrocratic, too arty, if you like. This is true of her Liu on the Callas Turandot, where she sounds more like a duchess than a slave girl. I love it nonetheless.

I actually like both performances of Vilja, but yet again feel that Fleming croons sometimes (though this bothers me less in  this piece than it does in others), and she uses portamento on practically every word. Schwarzkopf's style, on the other hand,  is echt Viennese,and she uses portamento more sparingly. Fleming is The Merry Widow, if you like to Schwarzkopf's Die lustige Witwe. You also have to remember that  Schwarzkopf was brought up with Viennese operetta, and it was in her blood. After all she was 33 when Lehar died. I remember an interview when she discussed singing Johann Strauss, and how she tried to emulate Kreisler's tone and phrasing. When you hear her sing Wiener Blut  (here with the no less stylish Nicolia Gedda), you know exactly what she meant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcKuj65wAlk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcKuj65wAlk)



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on March 24, 2012, 01:37:15 AM
Common and laboured are two of the last words I'd associate with Schwarzkopf's singing. She is usually criticised for being too aristrocratic, too arty, if you like. This is true of her Liu on the Callas Turandot, where she sounds more like a duchess than a slave girl. I love it nonetheless.

I actually like both performances of Vilja, but yet again feel that Fleming croons sometimes (though this bothers me less in  this piece than it does in others), and she uses portamento on practically every word. Schwarzkopf's style, on the other hand,  is echt Viennese,and she uses portamento more sparingly. Fleming is The Merry Widow, if you like to Schwarzkopf's Die lustige Witwe. You also have to remember that  Schwarzkopf was brought up with Viennese operetta, and it was in her blood. After all she was 33 when Lehar died. I remember an interview when she discussed singing Johann Strauss, and how she tried to emulate Kreisler's tone and phrasing. When you hear her sing Wiener Blut  (here with the no less stylish Nicolia Gedda), you know exactly what she meant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcKuj65wAlk (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcKuj65wAlk)

Sorry I meant "common" as in frequent and "laboured" as in more obvious, slower. Bad choice of words.

Ultimately it's just what one responds to more I guess. I just heard Schwarzkopf's Otello Scena for the first time - very beautiful, and you hear how much Fleming takes from her. There are singers that I like very much indeed, and love particular recordings of them- Schwarzkopf is one, but only two where I am really thrilled  (in that spine liquifying way that only voice fans seem to understand) by virtually everything they do: Callas and Fleming. An odd duo perhaps.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: val on March 24, 2012, 02:51:44 AM
Just heard again Callas in Verdi's Macbeth with De Sabata. The sound is bad. But no one sings or conducts Verdi with such immense art today. With the Norma conducted by Votto, also live (the sound is even worse) perhaps the two greatest moments of Callas that were recorded.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 24, 2012, 03:18:00 AM
Just heard again Callas in Verdi's Macbeth with De Sabata. The sound is bad. But no one sings or conducts Verdi with such immense art today. With the Norma conducted by Votto, also live (the sound is even worse) perhaps the two greatest moments of Callas that were recorded.

Actually, Val, the divina records version of the La Scala 1955 Votto Norma enjoys much better sound than the Macbeth. Expensive, but well worth the extra outlay for such a performance.

http://www.divinarecords.com/dvn017/dvn017.html (http://www.divinarecords.com/dvn017/dvn017.html)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: val on March 24, 2012, 05:29:53 AM
Quote
Tsaraslondon
Actually, Val, the divina records version of the La Scala 1955 Votto Norma enjoys much better sound than the Macbeth. Expensive, but well worth the extra outlay for such a performance.

We are talking about the version with del Monaco (one of his best performances ever) and Simionato? Then you are lucky. My edition (HUNT) has a really bad sound. In many moments it is almost impossible to hear the orchestra.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on March 24, 2012, 11:11:18 AM
We are talking about the version with del Monaco (one of his best performances ever) and Simionato? Then you are lucky. My edition (HUNT) has a really bad sound. In many moments it is almost impossible to hear the orchestra.

The same. The differences between the Hunt version and the Divina Records version are enormous. The sound on the divina records one is about on a par with the Berlin Lucia. Believe me, it is worth every penny of the extra expense. I see it is also now available as a download.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Karolina on April 07, 2012, 01:05:27 PM
Any idea who we might compare with her talent?
I'm wondering who you'll type
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 08, 2012, 06:56:06 AM
Any idea who we might compare with her talent?
I'm wondering who you'll type

Nobody.

Love her or loathe her, Callas was unique. I doubt we will ever hear her like again. Certainly not in today's more prosaic world.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 12, 2012, 10:38:04 AM
The Gramophone magazine has just announced its first 50 honourees in the Gramophone Hall of Fame. Of the 50 artistes with the greatest number of votes, five emerged ahead of the rest, four of them conductors (Karajan, Abbado, Furtwangler and Bernstein), the fifth none other than Maria Callas. As Mike stated in the post that opened this thread, the ripples of her way of doing things still vibrate.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: franz65 on April 13, 2012, 06:36:07 AM
I'm a beginner, when it comes to classical music and opera, but Maria Callas is a personality I knew even before I started to explore the world of opera.
She's absolutely wonderful and her Madama Butterfly brings tears into my eyes (even thought I'm a man)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: MariaCallasFan on October 07, 2012, 04:36:54 AM
I am not a musical expert but I have to say I never tire of listening to Maria Callas. Her rendition of Un Bel vedremo is one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Chaszz on November 15, 2012, 05:08:02 PM
Can someone list the things that make Callas unique/controversial/special etc. etc

I know nothing about her but want to learn.

Great actresses are rare, few and far between. Who can compare with Meryl Streep today as an actress? Maybe one or two British actresses. Certainly no American one.

Callas' uniqueness is that she happened to be a great actress. There are practically none in opera. Good actresses, yes, but great ones, no. Callas was not only a great, if flawed, singer, but also very likely the greatest actor or actress in the modern history of opera. This is what makes her totally unique and unforgettable.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on November 20, 2012, 01:45:44 AM

Callas' uniqueness is that she happened to be a great actress. There are practically none in opera. Good actresses, yes, but great ones, no. Callas was not only a great, if flawed, singer, but also very likely the greatest actor or actress in the modern history of opera. This is what makes her totally unique and unforgettable.

Actually I am not sure that is what made her unique. The only film we have of Callas performing on stage is two different performances of Act II of Tosca (Paris 1958 and Covent Garden 1965) show her to be a vivid and natural actress, particularly at Covent Garden, where she and Gobbi are simply two actors, who happen to be singing. But Callas was only really a great actress in the execution of the music. and her ability to get to the very heart of a character, without moving a muscle. According to contemporary reports, she was often very still, particularly in Romantic Opera. Puccini, being verismo, requires rather different skills.

One of the supreme pieces of Callas acting on screen is a late, live television broadcast of her singing Ah non credea fromLa Sonnambula. She is elegantly coiffed and attired, and yet, hardly moving a muscle, she becomes before our eyes the very epitome of the wronged and heart broken village girl Amina.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkMBANqrwfg (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkMBANqrwfg)


Anyway, if it was simply her physical acting that made her great, then now, 35 years after her death and almost 50 years after she last appeared on the operatic stage, she would surely be forgotten. It is her voice that lives on, her musicality, her unique way of doing things and that uncanny ability to act with the voice, so that as we listen, we see. That is what made her a supreme actress.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on November 23, 2012, 06:25:01 AM
Absolutely agree with Tsaraslondon on this - the thing about being a great actress is often misunderstood - the point is voice acting - the endless nuance, and dramatic focus that she is able to imbue the music with without it ever deviating from the score. She has no equals in this in the italian repertoire.

Plus in her prime the technique was in my opinion peerless, despite the problems that arose fairly early on - a weird statement but I firmly believe it. Even in the late Carmen recording, the technique and accuracy and vocal detail astound me. In terms of legato and expressive use of coloratura, no one has ever impressed me as much as her.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on November 24, 2012, 02:01:00 AM


Plus in her prime the technique was in my opinion peerless, despite the problems that arose fairly early on - a weird statement but I firmly believe it. Even in the late Carmen recording, the technique and accuracy and vocal detail astound me. In terms of legato and expressive use of coloratura, no one has ever impressed me as much as her.

Michael Scott in his book Maria Meneghini Callas avers that Callas never lost her technique, but lost her voice. I don't go along with everything he says, but I take his point. Listen, for instance, to her singing of Arrigo, ah parli a un core, from I Vespri Siciliani, which she recorded more than once in the late 60s. Towards the end there is a scale passage that takes her from a C in alt down to a low F# below the stave. The very top of the voice is raw and the lowest notes emerge as something of a moan, but every note in between is cleanly articulated within an impeccable legato. We hear exactly what Verdi wrote, whereas Arroyo, on the Levine complete recording just slithers down the scale.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on November 26, 2012, 01:12:30 PM
For me, she was one of a small handful of singers who sounded like the music was being extemporised. She seemingly could play with the music, but in fact was sticking closely to the notes on the page. That is a rare ability and puts her ahead of a lot of great singers who sound inside the music, but following it.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on December 03, 2012, 06:02:16 PM
Someone has done a new transfer/stereophonised version of Callas' 1957 La Scala Bolena (one of the greatest documents of her live singing IMO), and it sounds quite magnificent to me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkMf_aaxfz4&feature=plcp

There's a slightly squelchy noise at the opening, but its hugely preferably to the hiss I've heard on previous recordings, and it disappears for the all important "Al dolce guidami" (5:30 or so.)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 04, 2012, 12:58:11 AM
Someone has done a new transfer/stereophonised version of Callas' 1957 La Scala Bolena (one of the greatest documents of her live singing IMO), and it sounds quite magnificent to me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkMf_aaxfz4&feature=plcp

There's a slightly squelchy noise at the opening, but its hugely preferably to the hiss I've heard on previous recordings, and it disappears for the all important "Al dolce guidami" (5:30 or so.)

This seems to be a transfer from a BJR LP, a company who were renowned for superior transfers. Divina records have now issued their Anna Bolena, which is also a transfer from a BJR source. It could be the same version. I know I've been tempted to buy it. Divina records issues are expensive, but worth every penny.

I keep hoping for the Covent Garden La Traviata. Incidentally EMI often botched their live transfers. Their Macbeth seems to be a direct transfer from a Hunt CD issue, which spliced in a few seconds of a performance with Gencer to cover part of the big Act I finale that was lost in transmission. EMI make no mention of this in their notes to the CD, which suggests they were completely unaware of the missing section.

What is not in doubt is that the La Scala Anna Bolena was a great night in the theatre, with Callas at the peak of her powers. Has anyone, even Pasta, who created the role, sung the Giduici ad Anna section which launches the stretta at the end of Act I, with such intensity, with such blazingly vehement outrage? I very much doubt it.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on December 04, 2012, 06:12:57 AM
Do you agree that it's more exciting/beautiful than the studio version?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on December 04, 2012, 07:31:59 AM
Do you agree that it's more exciting/beautiful than the studio version?

She only recorded the final scene in the studio, on what is one of my favourite Callas recitals "Mad Scenes", which also includes the final scene from Il Pirata and Ophelia's mad scene from Hamlet. The melismas at the close of Al dolce guidami are even more finely drawn out in the studio version (she judges her breath better and sings through the climactic high A, which she loses for a moment in the live version), but the cabaletta is more exciting in the live version, benefiting,as it does, from the presence of an audience.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on December 12, 2012, 02:57:22 AM
She only recorded the final scene in the studio, on what is one of my favourite Callas recitals "Mad Scenes", which also includes the final scene from Il Pirata and Ophelia's mad scene from Hamlet. The melismas at the close of Al dolce guidami are even more finely drawn out in the studio version (she judges her breath better and sings through the climactic high A, which she loses for a moment in the live version), but the cabaletta is more exciting in the live version, benefiting,as it does, from the presence of an audience.

Callas' "Mad Scenes" are obligatory for a stay on a desert isle. But if I don't have time to take the recording with me, I probably have most of it in my head for having listened to it so many times!

Here is a live performance of "Oh! s'io potessi dissipare le nubi" from Il Pirata in Hamburg 1959. The first part (not on the recording, I believe) is a symphony of facial expressions anticipating the scene, mirroring the emotions in the orchestral introduction:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAY7eDgTI28

She was the true mistress of Bel Canto in her prime (part 2):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GZ7WQpsgi0

ZB

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: wagnernn on May 14, 2013, 01:43:52 AM
I just came across this recording , which claims to be a "digital remaster". Indeed, the sound is much better than my old CDs.
http://www.deezer.com/en/album/6216955

Didnt notice before that Callas' Kundry is so seductive. There is something irresistible of her singing in Act 2. And Gui's conducting reveals its majesty under the new light thanks to the digital technology.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on May 15, 2013, 02:13:42 AM
I just came across this recording , which claims to be a "digital remaster". Indeed, the sound is much better than my old CDs.
http://www.deezer.com/en/album/6216955

Didnt notice before that Callas' Kundry is so seductive. There is something irresistible of her singing in Act 2. And Gui's conducting reveals its majesty under the new light thanks to the digital technology.

Many can't take Wagner sung in Italian (as it almost always was in Italy back then), but if you can, Callas's Kundry is more than just a curious footnote. She make Kundry the sensuous siren that she should be.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 05, 2013, 01:53:23 AM
BBC Radio 3' Building a Library today featured "Un Ballo in Maschera". Roger Parker eventually fined his choices down to four recordings, in chronological order, Callas/Di Stefano under Votto, Price/Bergonzi  under Leinsdorf, Arroyo/Domingo under Muti and M Price/Pavarotti under Solti. He eliminated Solti and Leinsdorf first, eventually being left with Muti and Votto.

I suppose I have to agree with his final choice of Muti, and the reasons for it; the better recording and more polished orchestral playing,  the greater finesse of Domingo's Riccardo. Ballo is, after all, the tenor's opera. That said, his preferred Amelia and Renato were Callas and Gobbi, and this Ballo, recorded in 1956, before she had sung the role on stage, finds her in great voice. It was a role that suited her well and a live recording under Gavazzeni made the following year, with Bastianini and Simionato replacing Gobbi and Barbieri, also shows her in stupendous voice, possibly the last time we hear her singing with such security. The performance was recorded on 7 December 1957. The next recorded Callas performance we have is the incomplete "Norma" from Rome on January 2, 1958, when, too ill to continue, she walked out mid performance, a scandal that dogged her till her dying day. Though there were still some great performances to come, the events of that night really marked the beginning of her rapid decline.

Looking through John Ardoin's "The Callas Legacy" it is to note that, though there were a few remarkable performances ahead of her (the Lisbon and Covent Garden "Traviatas", the Dallas "Medea") she never again sang with the power and insouciant ease of that La Scala Amelia. Is it too fanciful to think that she never really recovered from the emotional scars of trying, and failing, to perform when far too ill to do so? The press were merciless, Pathe news even faking evidence to show Callas singing perfectly in rehearsal (the clip they showed was actually Callas singing at a radio concert the previous year),  and screaming about the insult to the President of Italy, who was present at the performance, though the fault lay clearly at the door of the Rome Opera, who had no understudy at the ready. Callas had informed the management that she was not well two days before the performance, but, stupidly, as it turned out, allowed herself to be coerced by them into performing.

After this performance, the Rome Opera cancelled her contract, though by the next performance a week later, she had recovered her voice. Callas sued the Rome Opera for breach of contract, a case that she won, but it had dragged on for years, and it was a hollow success. By that time her career was over and the damage could never be undone. One has to wonder why the press and media were so vicious in their condemnation of her. From that day on, they seemed hell bent on some sort of character assassination. Looking back on her career now, we can see that Callas's cancellation record was actually quite good, and that she in fact cancelled far less than most opera singers. In fact, after Rome, she often sang against doctor's orders for fear of what the press would say if she cancelled.

I am not saying she was easy to deal with, but Rudolf Bing once admitted that she was harder to deal with than most singers, because there was always a good reason for her demands, that she wasn't merely being capricious.

Interestingly she enjoyed a good relationship with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from her first performance there in 1952 to her last in 1965, when she cancelled a series of Toscas for health reasons, agreeing to sing only one, a Royal Gala. Given the parlous state of her voice on that occasion, it was obviously a decision well taken, and was in fact the last time she appeared in opera anywhere in the world.




Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on October 07, 2013, 02:06:50 PM
Very interesting post, thanks.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wendell_E on December 02, 2013, 03:37:24 AM
In honor of her 90th birthday, La Divina is today's "Google Doodle"
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Octave on December 02, 2013, 03:43:49 AM
(http://i1274.photobucket.com/albums/y434/8ve/callas_zps50303bb7.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Guido on April 15, 2014, 05:44:04 AM
Lest anyone be in doubt of the beauty, ease, power, and infinite resource of Callas's voice on the evidence of her later recordings, just listen to this. Virtually every moment is breathtaking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dObANnzSIMc

she said she sang like a wild cat in those early years and recommended that people not search these recordings out, and though her artistry certainly became more refined, this is just unbelievable singing.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on April 15, 2014, 10:19:46 AM
I have not heard that recording before. The voice has a softness there and the trills are beautifully done. She was always an individual, even very early on the template of her greatness is clear.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on April 16, 2014, 01:21:25 AM
This was actually the first time Callas had ever sung Leonora. She had asked Serafin to help her prepare the role, but he refused, saying that he had no intention of laying the groundwork down for another conductor, so she prepared it alone. She did sing it under Serafin a few months later in Naples (with Lauri-Volpi who praised her extravagantly) and there are a few refinements in that performance, but, if anything, the similarities in execution show how instinctive and intuitive her art was.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 01, 2014, 08:36:31 AM
I've just taken delivery of Warner's Callas Remastered Box Set; all the studio recordings, including those made for Cetra, going back to the master tapes and correcting errors in past reissues.

I still have a lot of listening to do, but so far these new remasters are proving to be far better than anything achieved by EMI. There are a couple of essays in the hard back book that comes with the set, about how the remasters were done, and the painstaking work involved.

This might be the last word on Callas remasters - at least for the foreseeable future.

(http://cdn.gramilano.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Callas-Remastered.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: betterthanfine on October 02, 2014, 05:44:55 AM
I'm dying to get my hands on that set. What did you pay for it, Tsaraslondon?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 02, 2014, 01:21:06 PM
I'm dying to get my hands on that set. What did you pay for it, Tsaraslondon?

It was an early Christmas present from a friend who sent me an Amazon voucher, so I had to get it from Amazon UK - just over £200 with free postage. It's cheaper from MDT, but I think you have to pay postage on that.

Believe me, this is way way better than any of the previous issues we have had. Both voice and orchestra sound so much more real, more present. And, in the later recordings, the voice sounds fuller, less harsh.  I was listening to the second Tosca, prepared to flinch before the high notes, as I have done in the past. Maybe my memory is wrong, or maybe my hearing isn't as good as it used to be, but they did seem to sound better, though not perfect by any means.

The only problem for me is documentation. The book has some great photos and excellent articles about the remastering process, plus an interview with Robert Gooch, who worked on the second Callas Norma, but the selected chronology is patchy, as is the biographical material. I also miss the excellent essays John Steane wrote to accompany all the EMI reissues.

I'll live with that though, as the sound is so much better on these new remasters.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on October 06, 2014, 02:01:46 AM
I thought that I would try out one disc and see if it was significantly different from my old versions. I bought the first Verdi recital with the Macbeth on it. The voice sounds remarkably present in the room, that is good and also on occasion uncomfortable. A pity the Traviata included seems to be so unexceptional apart from Callas's embrionic Violetta. I have still to get hold of her in the part and can't now track your advice of which issue by what compnay of which recording/performance. I would also like to get the disc with her Isolda extract, very early Callas and the voice in excellent condiition.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: king ubu on October 07, 2014, 01:07:03 AM
Bought the new Callas box last week ... it's wonderful!

One very minor issue is that discs aren't numbered/sorted in any way, so once you take them out and don't know the sequence of recording by heart, it'll take a moment to get them sorted again - a bit silly, but I'll just print out a sheet with the proper order and add it to the box (the outside sheet, under the shrinkwrap, pictures all covers, but no in sequence either).

Anyway, I posted the following elsewhere, mind me, I'm no audiophile and have little knowledge about tech speech, but still to some it may be of interest:

Can't really write an elaborate review, but in my amateurish words, I seem to hear greater clarity, better definition of sound - both on the voice as well as on the orchestra. Also more presence if that makes sense, on the voice. And more balance on the whole - some of the high (vocal) notes on the older set sound pretty shrill to me, which is less the case on the new one (i.e. the final bit before the instrumental part in "Una voce poco fa").
 
This is based on comparing music from:

    "Puccini Arias" ("Si, Mi chiamamano Mimì", "O mio babbino caro")
    "Lyric & Coloratura Arias" ("Ecco: respiro appena. Io son l'umile ancella", "L'altro notte, in fondo al mare", "Una voce poco fa") (I love that album dearly!)

    La Traviata: the low level noise (tape sound or whatever it is) is still there or there is maybe even a bit more of it in the Preludio, but the whole thing has better definition (i.e. when the double basses enter, or that part when the violins start playing that charming upward three-note motif around 3 minutes in - they emerge from the orchestra here, while on the old one, they sound more like added icing on top - meaning they're easier to hear in the first few seconds, but the new version sounds more organic if that makes any sense)
    In "È strano! È strano!" the low level hiss seems to be less, the voice seems to have a tiny bit more "body" and you get much less of the artifacts (wobble) when Callas hits those high and loud notes.

    Tosca (1953): "Ed or fra noi parliam da buoni amici ...Sciarrone, che dice il Cavalier?" - again, everything seems just a tad better defined and livelier - orchestra and voices. The heat seems to be more present, the brass really shines, the bass grumbles, yet I don't hear any bleeding like there is occasionally on the older version. So yeah, they bring it to the fore without overdoing it.
    "Vissi d'arte": again here you get those artifacts (some distortion of the background "noise" or whatever it is, when the voice goes up high at high volume) - you still get some of it on the new remaster, but at the same time, it all sounds much warmer (both voice and orchestra).

So, more presence, less sonic mush (from which both orchestra and, though to a lesser extent, the voice seems to suffer on the older version) ... clearer definition, more polish on the whole yet still more "aggressiveness" in detail, sound is more "graphic" somehow. Not sure how much sense this all makes, I'm really not used to try and put such things into words.
 
Again I hasten to add: I'm no audiophile, don't have any high-end equipment (I don't even know the brand of speakers I'm using right now, they were bought used at the thrift store when I needed another pair).
 
As for the whole presentation, the bloated box is a bit silly - the book isn't a bit larger (higher) than CD size, but still ... the original covers are indeed a big step forward from the generic blue ones of the 90s edition. Having all those photos, both in the book and inside the booklets included with the CDs is nice as well. Some of the paper sleeves in which the discs are put are a tiny bit too large, so you have to kinda shake them out of the cardboard covers ... you need those paper sleeves as they contain the tracklists (for the operas, you only get them there, for the recitals, they're also on the back side of the cardboard covers. What is a bit annoying: the discs are in no way numbered (except for "La Traviata" discs 1 and 2 and the likes). So to put them back in order, if you don't know the sequence by heart (I surely don't), you need to fumble out the separate booklets and check the recording dates, as even the catalogue numbers visible on each disc represent any sequence. Minor issue for sure, but I do care for chronological order often, also often sequence my listening that way (and no, on the paper inside the shrinkwrap but outside of the box, the covers are not depicted in order, either!).
 
 
As for "L'altro notte" from Boito's Mefistofele, I think Caballé beats anyone, but that aria is just so darn gorgeous and hearing Callas sings it is a great experience every time for me!
 
And what an effin' tragedy it is that Callas wasn't able to do a proper studio "Traviata" ... granted, the live one with Ghione is magnificient (my favourite recording, I think, of this opera, Kleiber can't compete because of his weak Violetta ... the Serafin with Simionato is good, too, but what would I give to have Callas in there!
 

Now excuse me while I start listening the entire "Tosca" ... (added for GMG: which proved as devastating an experience as ever ... can't play it too often, this recording - the early mono one that is - is really a life-changing power!)

______________



The sequence of contents, just in case:

1949
- First Recordings: Arias from Tristan, Norma, I Puritani; conductor: Arturo Basile

1952
- Ponchielli: La Gioconda; conductor: Antonio Votto

1953
- Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor; conductor: Tullio Serafin
- Bellini: I puritani; conductor: Serafin
- Mascagni: Cavalleria Rusticana; conductor: Serafin
- Puccini: Tosca; conductor: Victor de Sabata
- Verdi: La traviata; conductor: Gabriele Santini

1954
- Bellini: Norma; conductor: Serafin
- Leoncavallo: Pagliacci; conductor: Serafin
- Verdi: La forza del destino; conductor: Serafin
- Rossini: Il turco in Italia; conductor: Gianandrea Gavazzeni
- Puccini Arias; conductor: Serafin
- Operatic Arias (aka Lyric & Coloratura Arias); conductor: Serafin

1955
- Callas at La Scala: Arias from La sonnambula, Medea, La vestale; conductor: Serafin
- Puccini: Madama Butterfly; conductor: Herbert von Karajan
- Verdi: Aida; conductor: Serafin
- Verdi: Rigoletto; conductor: Serafin

1956
- Verdi: Il trovatore; conductor: Karajan
- Puccini: La bohème; conductor: Votto
- Verdi: Un ballo in Maschera; conductor: Votto

1957
- Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia; conductor: Alceo Galliera
- Bellini: La sonnambula; conductor: Votto
- Puccini: Turandot; conductor: Serafin
- Puccini: Manon Lescaut; conductor: Serafin
- Cherubini: Medea; conductor: Serafin

1958
- Verdi Arias I: Macbeth, Nabucco, Ernani, Don Carlo; conductor: Nicola Rescigno
- Mad Scenes: Anna Bolena, Hamlet, Il pirate; conductor: Rescigno

1959
- Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor; conductor: Serafin
- Ponchielli: La Gioconda; conductor: Votto

1960
- Bellini: Norma; conductor: Serafin

1961
- Callas à Paris: Arias; conductor: Georges Prêtre

1963
- Callas à Paris: Arias; conductor: Prêtre

1963/64
- Arias by Mozart, Beethoven and Weber; conductor: Rescigno
- Verdi Arias II: Otello, Aroldo, Don Carlo; conductor: Rescigno
- Arias by Rossini and Donizetti; conductor: Rescigno

1964
- Bizet: Carmen; conductor: Prêtre

1964/65
- Puccini: Tosca; conductor: Prêtre

1964/65/69
- Verdi Arias III: I lombardi, Attila, Il corsaro, Il trovatore, I vespri siciliani, Un ballo in maschera, Aida; conductor: Rescigno

1953/58/60/61
- Rarities; conductors: Prêtre, Rescigno, Serafin, Antonio Tonini
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 07, 2014, 10:27:51 AM
I thought that I would try out one disc and see if it was significantly different from my old versions. I bought the first Verdi recital with the Macbeth on it. The voice sounds remarkably present in the room, that is good and also on occasion uncomfortable. A pity the Traviata included seems to be so unexceptional apart from Callas's embrionic Violetta. I have still to get hold of her in the part and can't now track your advice of which issue by what compnay of which recording/performance. I would also like to get the disc with her Isolda extract, very early Callas and the voice in excellent condiition.

Mike

Mike, my favourite Traviata is the 1958 performance from Covent Garden, a night when everything goes right. The rest of the cast, Valletti an ideal, and stylish Alfredo, Zanasi a sympathetic and musical Germont, and Rescigno brings sanity and song to the performance, We even get Marie Collier as Flora. Callas always enjoyed working at Covent Garden, possibly because there were never any arguments about adequate rehearsal time, nor did she have to put up with multiple casts, as she often did at the Met, often not knowing until she got on stage just who the tenor would be. The congenial working environment in London obviously contributed to the success of all her performances there.

There are several pressings of this performance out there, but the best is probably the one on ICA. There is a curious anomaly in this version however. In all other versions you can hear Callas softly warming up, and singing along a couple of notes in the Act I Prelude. These notes are entirely absent from the ICA issue. I did write to them about it, but, though they responded, they didn't really come up with a good explanation.

The Lisbon Traviata with Kraus that was eventually issued by EMI in an attempt to repair their omission, is also a good performance, but I prefer Zanasi as Germont, and Ghione is a bit four square. The sound on the Covent Garden is also better, a good BBC Third Programme broadcast.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: king ubu on October 07, 2014, 10:58:46 AM
Hm, the Ghione so far is my favourite recording of "La Traviata" all in all ... guess the London one goes onto the shopping list. "La Traviata" is an opera I love dearly - but somehow I love the opera itself more than any particular recording (I wish Kleiber would have had an up to par Violetta, his first act for me just falls flat).
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on October 07, 2014, 01:17:51 PM
Mike, my favourite Traviata is the 1958 performance from Covent Garden, a night when everything goes right. The rest of the cast, Valletti an ideal, and stylish Alfredo, Zanasi a sympathetic and musical Germont, and Rescigno brings sanity and song to the performance, We even get Marie Collier as Flora. Callas always enjoyed working at Covent Garden, possibly because there were never any arguments about adequate rehearsal time, nor did she have to put up with multiple casts, as she often did at the Met, often not knowing until she got on stage just who the tenor would be. The congenial working environment in London obviously contributed to the success of all her performances there.

There are several pressings of this performance out there, but the best is probably the one on ICA. There is a curious anomaly in this version however. In all other versions you can hear Callas softly warming up, and singing along a couple of notes in the Act I Prelude. These notes are entirely absent from the ICA issue. I did write to them about it, but, though they responded, they didn't really come up with a good explanation.

Thanks for again laying that out for me. This time I have gone straight to it and have ordered the version and edition you reccommend.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on October 07, 2014, 06:28:11 PM
When you get to it, I will be curious to know if the major sonic flaw of the EMI Turandot was ameliorated in any way....that is the one in which the Emperor seems to have been recorded two floors down at the other end of the building, with the doors closed and covered in cotton...he is near inaudible even with my ear pressed against the speaker.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Moonfish on October 08, 2014, 03:39:19 AM
Bought the new Callas box last week ... it's wonderful!

One very minor issue is that discs aren't numbered/sorted in any way, so once you take them out and don't know the sequence of recording by heart, it'll take a moment to get them sorted again - a bit silly, but I'll just print out a sheet with the proper order and add it to the box (the outside sheet, under the shrinkwrap, pictures all covers, but no in sequence either).

Anyway, I posted the following elsewhere, mind me, I'm no audiophile and have little knowledge about tech speech, but still to some it may be of interest:


Thanks for posting your review and all that information. Much appreciated Ubu! I see that people over at Organissimo were quite excited about the release as well!  You make me want to listen to Tosca!!!     :P ::)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 09, 2014, 08:35:34 AM
Hm, the Ghione so far is my favourite recording of "La Traviata" all in all ... guess the London one goes onto the shopping list. "La Traviata" is an opera I love dearly - but somehow I love the opera itself more than any particular recording (I wish Kleiber would have had an up to par Violetta, his first act for me just falls flat).

I actually like Cotrubas in the role, though Sempre libera taxes her to the limit. I saw her in the role at Covent Garden too, and she was incredibly affecting.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: king ubu on October 09, 2014, 12:55:42 PM
I actually like Cotrubas in the role, though Sempre libera taxes her to the limit. I saw her in the role at Covent Garden too, and she was incredibly affecting.

I didn't want to sound too harsh ... we're talking great performances here, after all, so it's all good. Will have to revisit some recordings, including the Kleiber - but going from memory (again) it's not that I actually dislike her, probably more like: She does not embody the part in a manner that I wish for in my perfect (only in my head) version of "La Traviata". I know this is off-topic here, but what do you think of the EMI Serafin one, the one that *should* have been Callas' perfect studio recording but instead it features Antonietta Stella? I've only played it once so far, but I like Stella. (There's no thread dedicated to her, I'm afraid, so I hope asking here is okay.)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 10, 2014, 12:50:48 AM
I didn't want to sound too harsh ... we're talking great performances here, after all, so it's all good. Will have to revisit some recordings, including the Kleiber - but going from memory (again) it's not that I actually dislike her, probably more like: She does not embody the part in a manner that I wish for in my perfect (only in my head) version of "La Traviata". I know this is off-topic here, but what do you think of the EMI Serafin one, the one that *should* have been Callas' perfect studio recording but instead it features Antonietta Stella? I've only played it once so far, but I like Stella. (There's no thread dedicated to her, I'm afraid, so I hope asking here is okay.)

To be honest, I find her completely anonymous, and not really up to the demands of the role anyway. Legge was wrong. He should have waited for Callas to be free from her contract with Cetra (only a couple of years after all). That Stella Traviata never sold, whereas a Callas Traviata with Di Stefano and Gobbi would no doubt still be a top seller. Big mistake, Walter.

Of the other recordings, I think Cotrubas is, as I said, a most affecting heroine. I like Gheorgiu too, whom I also saw in the role, but she is saddled with Solti's unlyrical four-square conducting, Nucci's dry old stick of a Germont, and Lopardo's overparted Alfredo.
I seem to remember Freni being quite affecting too in Gardelli's recording, but I haven't heard it in a very long time.
Sutherland just isn't Violetta by any stretch of the imagination and Moffo, who should be good, just skates over the roles deepest emotions.
Scotto should also make a good Violetta, but her first recording catches her a little too soon and her later one too late.

That is why the lack of a really good Callas studio recording is such a tragedy!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: king ubu on October 10, 2014, 09:58:56 AM
Thanks a lot for that assessment!

I really have to dig into my "Traviata" recordings again soon. Stella I mostly enjoyed in other operas and only after bought the Testament reissue of the EMI/Serafin one. Guess we should take up the discussion in some more fitting thread then, but one I enjoyed quite some is the 1935 with Rosa Ponselle included in Sony's "Verdi at the Met" box. I quite fell for Ponselle's voice and singing there and started buying her Naxos releases afterwards.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 11, 2014, 03:55:19 AM
Thanks a lot for that assessment!

I really have to dig into my "Traviata" recordings again soon. Stella I mostly enjoyed in other operas and only after bought the Testament reissue of the EMI/Serafin one. Guess we should take up the discussion in some more fitting thread then, but one I enjoyed quite some is the 1935 with Rosa Ponselle included in Sony's "Verdi at the Met" box. I quite fell for Ponselle's voice and singing there and started buying her Naxos releases afterwards.

I love Ponselle, and her Violetta has been much admired. Like Tebaldi, she takes a downward transposition in Sempre libera, though she negotiates the notes far better than Tebaldi. It is an appreciable performance, but I never feel she really gets to the heart of the role the way Callas does. Mind you, who does? I do like Stratas in the Zeffirelli film. Vocally the first act is a trial, but it's a tremendously affecting portrayal. Seen, rather than just heard, she makes a thoroughly believable Violetta.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on October 11, 2014, 05:28:36 AM
I agree TS on Stratas, the first act is wild, but then the intelligence of her portrail takes you on her journey.

The Callas version you recommended arrived yesterday. I sometimes find Callas' voice fairly unpleasant. But she still beats the likes of Caballe and Scotto etc as she sounds as though the whole role is being extemporised within a real experience. It does not get better than that. She provides colours and insight where most singers merely sing.

Oddly to my ears the baritone sounds very tenor-like and even has the same very tight fast vibrato as the Alfredo. It is a great set which is theatrical and full blooded and moving, thanks.

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 12, 2014, 02:49:09 AM
I agree TS on Stratas, the first act is wild, but then the intelligence of her portrail takes you on her journey.

The Callas version you recommended arrived yesterday. I sometimes find Callas' voice fairly unpleasant. But she still beats the likes of Caballe and Scotto etc as she sounds as though the whole role is being extemporised within a real experience. It does not get better than that. She provides colours and insight where most singers merely sing.

Oddly to my ears the baritone sounds very tenor-like and even has the same very tight fast vibrato as the Alfredo. It is a great set which is theatrical and full blooded and moving, thanks.

Mike

Well, it is late Callas, Mike, and by this time the voice wasn't a particularly beautiful one, but the performance, as you hint at above, really draws you in, and vocal beauty gives way to truth. In any case, if truth is indeed beauty, then Callas's voice was a thing of beauty. Interestingly, after a few more performances in Dallas, she never sang the role again, though she never gave up the idea of singing it, even in retirement. I believe a recording was mooted as late as the early 1970s (with Domingo as Alfredo!). A pipe dream, I fear. There is no way her voice would have coped with the role by then.

I know what you mean about Zanasi, but I like him. In fact the performance sounds like a true collaboration, all the singers working as a true team. There are better sung performances by Callas out there, but this one takes us closer to Violetta's tragedy than any of the others.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: king ubu on October 12, 2014, 04:00:36 AM
@Tsaraslondon: How do you rate the Callas "Turandot"? I gave it a first spin yesterday, and I think I've heard recordings I liked better (Tebaldi/Erede 1955 - have a few more lined-up but not heard them yet: Nilsson/Leinsdorf 1959, Nilsson/Molinari Pradelli 1965, Mehta 1998).

I love Ponselle, and her Violetta has been much admired. Like Tebaldi, she takes a downward transposition in Sempre libera, though she negotiates the notes far better than Tebaldi. It is an appreciable performance, but I never feel she really gets to the heart of the role the way Callas does. Mind you, who does? I do like Stratas in the Zeffirelli film. Vocally the first act is a trial, but it's a tremendously affecting portrayal. Seen, rather than just heard, she makes a thoroughly believable Violetta.
I guess I'm not deeply into all of this to really be able to tell things apart like you can ... but yes, with Stella there might indeed be a lack of involvement that I, too, noticed.
The Zeffirelli film I don't know yet.

Regarding Scotto as Violetta: I have the Votto 1976 and the Muti 1980 - I assume with the early one you meant yet another? The 1980 is indeed a little too late, but I still think it's pretty good.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 12, 2014, 07:09:37 AM
@Tsaraslondon: How do you rate the Callas "Turandot"? I gave it a first spin yesterday, and I think I've heard recordings I liked better (Tebaldi/Erede 1955 - have a few more lined-up but not heard them yet: Nilsson/Leinsdorf 1959, Nilsson/Molinari Pradelli 1965, Mehta 1998).
I guess I'm not deeply into all of this to really be able to tell things apart like you can ... but yes, with Stella there might indeed be a lack of involvement that I, too, noticed.
The Zeffirelli film I don't know yet.

Regarding Scotto as Violetta: I have the Votto 1976 and the Muti 1980 - I assume with the early one you meant yet another? The 1980 is indeed a little too late, but I still think it's pretty good.

I think you'll find the Scotto/Votto Traviata was actually recorded in the early 1960s, and that is the one I referred to.

The Callas Turandot was recorded too late for comfort (1957) and puts an almost intolerable strain on her voice, though it sounds a lot better in the recent Warner transfer, by the way. I still think Callas probes more deeply into the role than any other soprano, revealing even early on in the opera something of Turandot's vulnerability. As usual with Callas, there are hundreds of details, passed over by more vocally entitled sopranos. I also have a soft spot for Schwarzkopf's Liu. I'll admit she sounds far more like a Duchess than a slave girl, but I love her finely nuanced singing. Fernandi is a bit of a let down as Calaf (why not Corelli?), but I love Serafin's natural way with the score. That said, this of all operas requires spectacular sound, which, even in the new mastering, we don't get here. My all round recommendation has always been Mehta with Sutherland, Pavarotti and Caballe.

Nilsson is probably the most vocally apt for the role, but neither of her sets benefits from great conducting. There is a thrilling Met Broadcast knocking around with Nilsson, Corelli and Moffo, conducted by Stokowski, which is certainly worth a listen, but of course the sound is not up to that of the studio versions. Though Nilsson's top notes are as steely and penetrating as ever, she brings a greater softness and femininity to the more lyrical aspects of the score. Worth a listen.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on October 20, 2014, 12:35:44 AM
Hm, the Ghione so far is my favourite recording of "La Traviata" all in all .

Mine, too. I also have Callas/Albanese/Salvarese/Santini 1953
Violetta = Callas = forever
It's interesting how she gets compared to her own recordings. Most ladies are not even in the running. If they have the voice, they don't have the intensity or depth of charater.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on October 21, 2014, 11:21:45 PM
Lest anyone be in doubt of the beauty, ease, power, and infinite resource of Callas's voice on the evidence of her later recordings, just listen to this. Virtually every moment is breathtaking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dObANnzSIMc

she said she sang like a wild cat in those early years and recommended that people not search these recordings out, and though her artistry certainly became more refined, this is just unbelievable singing.

Very interesting recording indeed! I am familiar with her later Leonoras but somehow managed to miss this live 1950 Mexico. I don't regard it as unrefined at all. She may not have had Serafin watching over her shoulder but her instinctual phrasing was maybe even better. Why? Because she uses messa di voce in the first part of the aria, not chopping up the line but adding more pathos, like she cannot help herself to sob the notes, rather than just sing them. This is simply uncanny and there is probably no other singer who dared to do that. Maybe she was chanelling Pasta, who knows?

ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on October 22, 2014, 11:47:48 PM
Mine, too. I also have Callas/Albanese/Salvarese/Santini 1953
Violetta = Callas = forever
It's interesting how she gets compared to her own recordings. Most ladies are not even in the running. If they have the voice, they don't have the intensity or depth of charater.

I urge you to to hear the Covent Garden performance too, just one of those nights when some sort of alchemy was at work, and the performance really takes wing. True, we don't get Kraus, but Valletti, a Schipa pupil, is excellent, as is Zanasi as his father. There is almost a familial resemblance in their timbre too. Rescigno is inspired to give one of his best performances, and conducts with more lyricism than Ghione. It is my yardstick La Traviata.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on October 24, 2014, 01:09:44 AM
I urge you to to hear the Covent Garden performance too, just one of those nights when some sort of alchemy was at work, and the performance really takes wing. True, we don't get Kraus, but Valletti, a Schipa pupil, is excellent, as is Zanasi as his father. There is almost a familial resemblance in their timbre too. Rescigno is inspired to give one of his best performances, and conducts with more lyricism than Ghione. It is my yardstick La Traviata.

Ah, I should have bought this version before but meanwhile was looking for a sneak preview on youtube.
Here is part of Act II with your comment below from 6 years ago!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s55I3RvADXA
You are right: "Here Callas is helped immeasurably by Zanasi's beautifully inflected and sympathetically sung Germont. Valetti, the Alfredo at this performance was even better than Kraus."
It's hard to imagine anyone better than Kraus but I'll hold out until I get the full performance. Someone also wrote that the Germonts usually suffer from a late in career wobble. I liked very much this lyrical type baritone.
Also correct about teamwork, Rescigno provides an ideal accompaniment. The more I listen to Verdi, I can't but be impressed with his perfect support for the singers.
Indeed, I should really fill out my Callas collection one of these days.
ZB
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Moonfish on January 26, 2015, 01:18:40 AM
Interesting article in NYRB about Callas (by Michael Shae) (http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2015/jan/24/definitive-maria-callas):

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2015/jan/24/definitive-maria-callas (http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/gallery/2015/jan/24/definitive-maria-callas)

(http://www.nybooks.com/media/img/blogimages/Maria_Callas_1_png_780x1200_q85.png)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: betterthanfine on January 27, 2015, 04:11:04 AM
Interesting indeed, thanks for that. Not really any new information, but nonetheless a good read.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: betterthanfine on February 09, 2015, 04:38:58 AM
I came across this review of the recently released Warner remastered complete studio recordings boxset:

http://www.mcelhearn.com/the-new-maria-callas-remasters-good-or-bad/

A dissenting voice, it seems, as all the criticism I've read so far has been more than positive. Any thoughts from people on here who own the new remasters?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 09, 2015, 11:27:29 AM
I came across this review of the recently released Warner remastered complete studio recordings boxset:

http://www.mcelhearn.com/the-new-maria-callas-remasters-good-or-bad/

A dissenting voice, it seems, as all the criticism I've read so far has been more than positive. Any thoughts from people on here who own the new remasters?

I have the new Warner set and can attest to the fact that the new masters are preferable in every way to the ones done for the 2007 Callas Edition box, which Andrew Rose seems to like so much. Some of the older re-masters from back in 1987 (when Keith Hardwick was doing them) apparently sound better but differences are marginal.

I have been really impressed by the new set and I even have my memories of old LPs to draw on. The new set also corrects certain errors of pitch that had crept into the 2007 set plus a major blunder, where the re-mastering engineer "corrected" Walter Legge's original idea for Tosca's entrance. He recorded her voice getting closer, so that each call of Mario brought her voice closer to the listener. The re-master thought this was wrong and cut the first two, just repeating the third three times so they were all at the same volume. Callas and Legge worked for hours to get the effect he wanted, so it was rather a case of lese majeste!

I got rid of all my previous Callas CDs when I got the new Warner set and I'm extremely happy with it.


 
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: betterthanfine on February 09, 2015, 12:30:33 PM
Ah, that is very good to hear, especially from a Callas expert like yourself, Tsaraslondon. ;) I am planning on getting the new set as soon as I can make some financial room for it. Can't wait.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on February 09, 2015, 01:05:03 PM
Ah, that is very good to hear, especially from a Callas expert like yourself, Tsaraslondon. ;) I am planning on getting the new set as soon as I can make some financial room for it. Can't wait.

It's well worth it, and I see the price has already come down quite a bit since I got it.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: jlaurson on July 06, 2015, 01:52:00 AM

Fresh from Forbes:

(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GS9pLMtbk04/VIB7VKbHqeI/AAAAAAAAHvs/QnxWx_SUGxc/s1600/Forbes_SOUND_ADVICE_laurson_2_600.jpg)

JUN 12, 2015
Simply The Perfect Box Set: "Maria Callas Remastered"

...Then again, for every trend there is a counter-trend. One could look at the modest but steady rise of vinyl.
Silly, if you look at it from a high-fidelity point of view, but perfectly understandable if you think of music as a
sensual experience, rather than a commodity. Listening to vinyl will never, ever get you a better sound quality
than digital reproduction can (but need not necessarily) produce. But it gives you an experience that might
be likened to the ceremony involved in opening a good bottle of wine, decanting it, and enjoying it in a huge,
mouth-blown glass. Or think of vinyl as the magisterially stuffed pipe over the CD or mp3’s thoughtlessly
puffed cigarette....

(http://blogs-images.forbes.com/jenslaurson/files/2015/07/Fricsay_Box-Sets_Forbes_Sound-Advice_jens-f-laurson_DG_.jpg) (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenslaurson/2015/07/06/simply-the-perfect-box-set-maria-callas-remastered)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: king ubu on July 06, 2015, 10:42:53 AM
Thanks for sharing Jens! It's indeed a marvellous box, though I'd always enjoy more text in those books!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: bobleflaneur on August 30, 2015, 06:31:57 PM
Given the recent reissues by Myto and others, could some kind soul offer a summary of the best-sounding releases of some or all of the seven Callas Traviatas? They are, I believe:

1951 Mexico City - de Fabritiis
1952 Mexico City - Mugnai
1953 Cetra (studio) - Santini
1955 La Scala - Giulini
1956 La Scala? - Giulini
1958 Lisbon - Ghionne
1958 Convent Garden - Rescigno

No others have emerged, right?

And of those, what's the best-sounding issue of any of the live ones (i.e., excluding the Cetra recording, which for me is ruled out as a first choice on account of her colleagues)?
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on August 30, 2015, 10:32:03 PM
The expert here is Tsarslondon. He has written about these performances through this thread. If he does not chance by to give you his advice, you might try to PM him; though I think that what you want is piecemeal in the thread already.

Cheers,

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 03, 2015, 01:10:23 PM
Given the recent reissues by Myto and others, could some kind soul offer a summary of the best-sounding releases of some or all of the seven Callas Traviatas? They are, I believe:

1951 Mexico City - de Fabritiis
1952 Mexico City - Mugnai
1953 Cetra (studio) - Santini
1955 La Scala - Giulini
1956 La Scala? - Giulini
1958 Lisbon - Ghionne
1958 Convent Garden - Rescigno

No others have emerged, right?

And of those, what's the best-sounding issue of any of the live ones (i.e., excluding the Cetra recording, which for me is ruled out as a first choice on account of her colleagues)?

The ones to have are La Scala 1955 (best on arsvocalis, but that might not be available at the moment), Lisbon 1958, and, best of all, Covent Garden 1958.

She is in fresher voice on the La Scala set, which is a record of a justly famous night in the theatre. The down side is Bastianini's relentlessly loud and unsympathetic Germont.
Her colleagues in Lisbon (Kraus and Sereni) are much better, but Ghione's conducting is a but four square.
Covent Garden catches one of those nights when everything seems to come together. Zanasi's sympathetic and musical singing is a perfect foil for Callas in the big Act II duet, and Valletti is perfect as Alfredo. Rescigno, not always the most exciting of conductors, is here inspired. Callas was not in her very best voice, but I still find it the performance where voice and art come together. It's the one I would never be without.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 02, 2017, 06:51:33 AM
Bumping this thread to mention that this year sees the 40th anniversary of Callas's death, on 16 September.

Warner, who now own EMI's classical catalogue, and all Callas's studio recordings, are honouring the event with an issue of twenty live Callas operas, some of which she never recorded in the studio, though it remains to be seen what the sound will be like.

(http://i66.tinypic.com/2r76cut.jpg)

Today also marks the 70th anniversary of her debut in Italy in La Gioconda at the Verona Arena, under the baton of Tullio Serafin, who was to become her mentor and guide over the next few years, and who conducted the majority of her studio sets.

As Mike stated in the opening post of this thread, started 10 years ago, the ripples still go on.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on August 02, 2017, 07:09:36 AM
Bumping this thread to mention that this year sees the 40th anniversary of Callas's death, on 16 September.

Warner, who now own EMI's classical catalogue, and all Callas's studio recordings, are honouring the event with an issue of twenty live Callas operas, some of which she never recorded in the studio, though it remains to be seen what the sound will be like.

(http://i66.tinypic.com/2r76cut.jpg)

Today also marks the 70th anniversary of her debut in Italy in La Gioconda at the Verona Arena, under the baton of Tullio Serafin, who was to become her mentor and guide over the next few years, and who conducted the majority of her studio sets.

As Mike stated in the opening post of this thread, started 10 years ago, the ripples still go on.

Does that mean we will need to wait for the first obsessive or brave soul to plonk down their money and get the set on Sept. 15 before we find out what the sound is like?  I have just enough already of those performances to make the sound the deciding factor in getting that.

There is the 2CD sampler (my word, not theirs) they are issuing along with it



Quote
Editorial Reviews
It is 40 years since Maria Callas died (16th September 1977), but she lives on as the epitome of the operatic diva. She has never lost her place among the top-selling classical artists. To mark this anniversary alongside the luxury boxset – 0190295844707 Maria Callas Live - Warner Classics also releases two compilations: 2CD Digipak 1LP Standard 180gr. These two collections benefit from the superb new remastering and convey thus Callas’ compelling genius as a singing actress with a new truthfulness and immediacy: Maria Callas Live and Alive! ü The passion and charisma of Maria Callas, performing live on the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls, can now be experienced as never before – thanks to new audio remastering from the best available sources. These are performances that played a crucial part in creating the legend of Callas, La Divina, and which keep her thrilling art very much alive.

Track Listings
Disc: 1
  1. Tosca, Act 2: "Vissi d'arte" (Tosca)
  2. Tosca, Act 3: "E non giungono" (Tosca, Cavaradossi, Carceriere)
  3. Tosca, Act 3: "Come è lunga l'attesa!" (Tosca)
  4. Lucia di Lammermoor, Act 1: "Regnava nel silenzio alta la notte e bruna" (Lucia, Alisa)
  5. Lucia di Lammermoor, Act 1: "Quando rapito in estasi" (Lucia)
  6. Lucia di Lammermoor, Act 3: "Il dolce suono mi colpì di sua voce! ... Ardon gli incensi" (Lucia, Rai
  7. Lucia di Lammermoor, Act 3: "Spargi d'amaro pianto" (Lucia, Raimondo, Chorus, Enrico)
  8. Anna Bolena, Act 2: "Piangete voi? D'onde tal pianto?" (Anna, Chorus)
  9. Anna Bolena, Act 2: "Al dolce guidami castel natio" (Anna)
  10. Anna Bolena, Act 2: "Qual mesto suon?" (Anna, Hervey, Percy, Rochefort, Smeton, Chorus)
  11. Anna Bolena, Act 2: "Cielo, a' miei lunghi spasimi" (Anna, Smeton, Percy, Rochefort, Chorus)
  12. Anna Bolena, Act 2: "Coppia iniqua, l'estrema vendetta" (Anna, Smeton, Percy, Rochefort, Chorus)
  13. Aida, Act 1: "Ritorna vincitor!" (Aida)
  14. Aida, Act 2: "O Re, pei sacri numi ... Gloria all'Egitto" (Radamès, Amneris, Amonasro, King, Aida, C

Disc: 2
  1. Norma, Act 1: "Casta Diva" (Norma, Chorus, Oroveso)
  2. La Traviata, Act 1: "Libiamo, ne' lieti calici" (Chorus, Violetta, Flora, Marchese, Gastone, Alfredo
  3. La Traviata, Act 1: "È strano! È strano!" (Violetta)
  4. La Traviata, Act 1: "Ah, fors'è lui che l'anima" (Violetta)
  5. La Traviata, Act 1: "Follie! follie! Delirio vano è questo!" (Violetta)
  6. La Traviata, Act 1: "Sempre libera" (Violetta, Alfredo)
  7. La Traviata, Act 3: "Addio, del passato" (Violetta)
  8. Parsifal, WWV 111, Act 2: "Ho visto, il figlio sul materno sen" (Kundry)
  9. La Sonnambula, Act 2: "Ah! non credea mirarti" (Amina, Elvino)
  10. Iphigénie en Tauride, Wq. 46, Act 2: "O sventurata Ifigenia" (Iphigénie, Chorus)
  11. Poliuto, Act 1: "Di quai soavi lagrime" (Paolina)
  12. Il Pirata, Act 1: "Sorgete; è in me dover" (Imogene, Itulbo, Adele)
  13. Il Pirata, Act 1: "Lo sognai ferito, esangue" (Imogene, Adele, Chorus)
  14. Il Pirata, Act 1: "Quando a un tratto il mio consorte" (Imogene, Chorus, Itulbo, Adele, Gualtiero)
  15. Il Pirata, Act 1: "Sventurata, anch'io deliro" (Imogene, Adele, Chorus)
  16. Andrea Chénier, Act 3: "La mamma morta" (Maddalena, Gérard)
  17. Turandot, Act 2: "In questa Reggia" (Turandot, Chorus, Calaf)

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 02, 2017, 07:37:33 AM
Does that mean we will need to wait for the first obsessive or brave soul to plonk down their money and get the set on Sept. 15 before we find out what the sound is like?  I have just enough already of those performances to make the sound the deciding factor in getting that.

There is the 2CD sampler (my word, not theirs) they are issuing along with it



I am curious about the Turandot aria that is included. Apparently it is supposed to be from Buenos Aires, but all that exists of that performance, as far as I'm aware, are a couple of snippets from the last act. Some years ago, Rodolphe issued In questa reggia from the same performance, but this turned out to be a fake, being a conflation of Callas's 1954 studio account and Del Monaco's Decca recording with added background crackle and audience noise. I hope Warner haven't just decided to revive this travesty.

As to the sound quality, we will have to wait and see. Some of the sources are pretty intransigent, particularly Nabucco, La Vestale and Alceste. Nor have they necessarily gone for the best live performance in each case. I'd have gone for the 1955 La Scala Norma, the 1958 Covent Garden La Traviata, the 1957 Cologne La Sonnambula and the 1958 Dallas Medea.



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on August 02, 2017, 07:58:05 AM
I am curious about the Turandot aria that is included. Apparently it is supposed to be from Buenos Aires, but all that exists of that performance, as far as I'm aware, are a couple of snippets from the last act. Some years ago, Rodolphe issued In questa reggia from the same performance, but this turned out to be a fake, being a conflation of Callas's 1954 studio account and Del Monaco's Decca recording with added background crackle and audience noise. I hope Warner haven't just decided to revive this travesty.

As to the sound quality, we will have to wait and see. Some of the sources are pretty intransigent, particularly Nabucco, La Vestale and Alceste. Nor have they necessarily gone for the best live performance in each case. I'd have gone for the 1955 La Scala Norma, the 1958 Covent Garden La Traviata, the 1957 Cologne La Sonnambula and the 1958 Dallas Medea.

Fortunately for me I've already heeded your advice on those.  The only one of those I don't have is the Norma.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on August 02, 2017, 08:04:38 AM
Prestoclassic does not yet list that 2CD issue, but its description of the big box
includes this

Quote
This set makes use of the best available source material, which includes tapes recently discovered by Tom Volf (director of the forthcoming film Callas in her own words) in the archives of the Italian collector, Oscar Costellacci.

Does that give you any clues?

BTW, looking at the Presto listing, I decided to not get the box, especially if they issue individual operas as they did with the studio set.  The three videos are all blu-ray, and I don't have a blu-ray player.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 02, 2017, 01:06:14 PM
Fortunately for me I've already heeded your advice on those.  The only one of those I don't have is the Norma.

The 1955 La Scala Norma is an absolute must, maybe the greatest performance of the role she ever gave. Fabulous cast too, and Votto, who is normally something of a routiniere, does a great job accompanying Callas, which, really, is all you have to do with a Callas.

The Divina Records version is in excellent sound too. Don't hesitate.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 02, 2017, 01:11:12 PM
Prestoclassic does not yet list that 2CD issue, but its description of the big box
includes this

Does that give you any clues?

BTW, looking at the Presto listing, I decided to not get the box, especially if they issue individual operas as they did with the studio set.  The three videos are all blu-ray, and I don't have a blu-ray player.

I'm very tempted by the box, if only for the presentation and accompanying material . But the name Oscar Cosetlacci means nothing to me, so I have no idea what the sound will be like.

I have the Tom Volf book, which is lavish and beautifully presented, though still not as good as John Ardoin and Gerald Fitzgerald's 1973 book Callas, which is still, IMO, the best coffee table book ever produced about Callas.

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 03, 2017, 02:11:01 AM

I have the Tom Volf book, which is lavish and beautifully presented, though still not as good as John Ardoin and Gerald Fitzgerald's 1973 book Callas, which is still, IMO, the best coffee table book ever produced about Callas.

While searching Google for the abovementioned book, I stumbled on this article from 1981, about the time I read Stassinopoulos' bio.

http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/31/books/publishing-callas-book-stirs-dispute.html

The following came as a complete surprise, even after all these years:

"Commenting on the La Scala ''La Traviata,'' Mr. Fitzgerald, who wrote the section of ''Callas'' titled ''The Great Years,'' noted: ''Violetta bows to the father's demands in the tender 'Ah! Dite alla giovine,' which Callas sang with her face inclined to the floor, her voice a mere whisper that somehow filled the theater'' (page 123). The Stassinopoulos version of that passage reads: ''She sang 'Dite alla giovine,' her renunciation of her lover in response to her father's plea, with her face inclined to the floor and her voice a mere whisper that somehow filled the theater'' (page 142)."
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 03, 2017, 03:45:40 AM
While searching Google for the abovementioned book, I stumbled on this article from 1981, about the time I read Stassinopoulos' bio.

http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/31/books/publishing-callas-book-stirs-dispute.html

The following came as a complete surprise, even after all these years:

"Commenting on the La Scala ''La Traviata,'' Mr. Fitzgerald, who wrote the section of ''Callas'' titled ''The Great Years,'' noted: ''Violetta bows to the father's demands in the tender 'Ah! Dite alla giovine,' which Callas sang with her face inclined to the floor, her voice a mere whisper that somehow filled the theater'' (page 123). The Stassinopoulos version of that passage reads: ''She sang 'Dite alla giovine,' her renunciation of her lover in response to her father's plea, with her face inclined to the floor and her voice a mere whisper that somehow filled the theater'' (page 142)."

I would assume that Stassinopoulos is borrowing from Fitzgerald. The chapter on the Visconti La Traviata is incredibly detailed. Read alongside the many photos, you almost feel as if you are there watching the performance. This kind of detailed observation doesn't seem to exist anymore. I often think of Peter Heyworth's description of the same moment in the Covent Garden production of 1958, which he reviewed for the Observer newspaper.

Quote
But perhaps the most marvellous moment of the evening was the long sustained B flat before Violetta descends to the opening phrase of “Dite alla giovine”. This is the moment of decision on which the whole opera turns. By some miracle, Callas makes that note hang unsuspended in mid air; unadorned and unsupported she fills it with all the conflicting emotions that besiege her. As she descends to the aria, which she opened with a sweet, distant mezza voce of extraordinary poignancy, the die is cast.

Such detailed critique is rare these days.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 03, 2017, 03:55:06 AM
I would assume that Stassinopoulos is borrowing from Fitzgerald. The chapter on the Visconti La Traviata is incredibly detailed. Read alongside the many photos, you almost feel as if you are there watching the performance. This kind of detailed observation doesn't seem to exist anymore. I often think of Peter Heyworth's description of the same moment in the Covent Garden production of 1958, which he reviewed for the Observer newspaper.

Plagiarism is more like it. According to the article, she did not cite Fitzgerald's book as one of her sources. That is not nice!!!

Such detailed critique is rare these days.

On both sides there is a falling off or laziness. The reader loses patience in having to exert his or her imagination. So writers don't bother much anymore.
It happens I am reading (maybe this time I will actually finish it) the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence. He had a cinematic mind but also the rare ability to put what he saw into 3D Technicolor words.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 03, 2017, 04:29:13 AM
Plagiarism is more like it. According to the article, she did not cite Fitzgerald's book as one of her sources. That is not nice!!!

On both sides there is a falling off or laziness. The reader loses patience in having to exert his or her imagination. So writers don't bother much anymore.
It happens I am reading (maybe this time I will actually finish it) the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by TE Lawrence. He had a cinematic mind but also the rare ability to put what he saw into 3D Technicolor words.

Hahaha. I was being charitable. The Stassinopoulos book, like so many of the Callas biographies by people who don't understand music, tends to go for the sensational, so it's one I don't take much notice of.

I've never read the Lawrence, though it's been on my list for a long time. I don't read anywhere as much as I used to. I never seem to have the time.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 03, 2017, 06:13:47 AM
I'm listening to the Juilliard Masterclasses at the moment. Fascinating.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL09F93460516754C7 (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL09F93460516754C7)



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 03, 2017, 06:59:58 AM
I'm listening to the Juilliard Masterclasses at the moment. Fascinating.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL09F93460516754C7 (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL09F93460516754C7)

You can hear Willard White on No. 75 (out of 116) in Verdi: "Il lacerato spirito".
I think there is a group of "graduates" from that particular class...
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on August 03, 2017, 07:28:00 AM
You can hear Willard White on No. 75 (out of 116) in Verdi: "Il lacerato spirito".
I think there is a group of "graduates" from that particular class...

You can also hear Barbara Hendricks (no 21 "Qui la voce", nos 62 & 89 "Io son l'umile ancella")

Willard White is also featured in no 92 "Tu sul labbro")

Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 15, 2017, 02:24:28 AM
40 years ago today since the death of Maria Callas and it seems her influence is, if anything, more far reaching than ever.

To mark the event Warner is issuing a box set of Live Recordings, many of them in roles she never recorded. There has been much discussion as to where they went for their sources, and whether there are still better versions out there. For my money you can't do better than Divina Records or Ars Vocalis, but I've ordered the set anyway and look forward to its arrival later today.

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/SnnxCin2Z20/maxresdefault.jpg)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Spineur on September 15, 2017, 04:07:36 AM
Also an exhibit in Paris

Maria by Callas (http://www.mariabycallas.com/)

And next Monday (Sept 18) A FULL DAY Maria Callas program on France Musique



Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Wanderer on September 15, 2017, 05:50:01 AM
Also, an exhibition in Athens:

Μαρία Κάλλας: Ο μύθος ζει (http://thf.gr/el/class/%ce%bc%ce%b1%cf%81%ce%af%ce%b1-%ce%ba%ce%ac%ce%bb%ce%bb%ce%b1%cf%82-%ce%bf-%ce%bc%cf%8d%ce%b8%ce%bf%cf%82-%ce%b6%ce%b5%ce%b9/?wcs_timestamp=1505733300)

Edit: Maria Callas: The myth lives on (http://thf.gr/en/class/maria-callas-the-myth-lives-on/)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 15, 2017, 05:52:45 AM
Also, an exhibition in Athens:

Μαρία Κάλλας: Ο μύθος ζει (http://thf.gr/el/class/%ce%bc%ce%b1%cf%81%ce%af%ce%b1-%ce%ba%ce%ac%ce%bb%ce%bb%ce%b1%cf%82-%ce%bf-%ce%bc%cf%8d%ce%b8%ce%bf%cf%82-%ce%b6%ce%b5%ce%b9/?wcs_timestamp=1505733300)

There are tributes and exhibitions going on also in Venice, in Paris, in Dublin (where she never appeared), but nothing in London, which from 1952 until 1965 gave her one of her most loyal followings.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: betterthanfine on September 15, 2017, 11:01:11 AM
40 years ago today since the death of Maria Callas and it seems her influence is, if anything, more far reaching than ever.

To mark the event Warner is issuing a box set of Live Recordings, many of them in roles she never recorded. There has been much discussion as to where they went for their sources, and whether there are still better versions out there. For my money you can't do better than Divina Records or Ars Vocalis, but I've ordered the set anyway and look forward to its arrival later today.

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/SnnxCin2Z20/maxresdefault.jpg)
I look forward to reading your thoughts about the remasters, and how they compare to other issues of the same recordings. I think I will cherry pick from these releases instead of buying the whole box, and go for the operas that either sound best or have not otherwise been recorded in full by Callas, like Macbeth. :)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: knight66 on September 15, 2017, 11:02:02 AM
There are tributes and exhibitions going on also in Venice, in Paris, in Dublin (where she never appeared), but nothing in London, which from 1952 until 1965 gave her one of her most loyal followings.

They have been too busy with Princess Diana.......

Mike
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 16, 2017, 05:02:38 AM
They have been too busy with Princess Diana.......

Mike

True!
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Spineur on September 21, 2017, 11:26:03 AM
Some amusing Callas trivia:

about Renata Tebaldi
Quote
"Comparing us is like comparing champagne with Coca-Cola"

This pasta commercial made her mad:
Quote
It is by eating our spagetti that Callas lost half her weight.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 21, 2017, 11:40:51 AM
The Tebaldi quote is a misappropriation.

Apparently Callas said in an interview that their repertoires were completely different and that comparing them was like comparing champagne with cognac. It was someone in the audience, who quipped. "No, Coca-Cola!". The mis-quote has dogged her all her life.

As for the pasta company, she  (rightly) sued it for falsely, and illegally using her name.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Peregrine on September 23, 2017, 01:25:25 AM
40 years ago today since the death of Maria Callas and it seems her influence is, if anything, more far reaching than ever.

To mark the event Warner is issuing a box set of Live Recordings, many of them in roles she never recorded. There has been much discussion as to where they went for their sources, and whether there are still better versions out there. For my money you can't do better than Divina Records or Ars Vocalis, but I've ordered the set anyway and look forward to its arrival later today.

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/SnnxCin2Z20/maxresdefault.jpg)

I'd be very eager to know your thoughts as well. I'm streaming Anna Bolena via Apple though my Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, so hard to guage accurately, but seems pretty impressive. However, I agree, the Divina Records have been the benchmark for some time.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 23, 2017, 03:18:56 AM
I'd be very eager to know your thoughts as well. I'm streaming Anna Bolena via Apple though my Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin, so hard to guage accurately, but seems pretty impressive. However, I agree, the Divina Records have been the benchmark for some time.

Discussion is raging on the Talk Classical forum as to which of the sources is best. In the final analysis, it will depend on how acute your ears are, and on your listening equipment.

Most contributors seem to be of the impression that the Divina Anna Bolena is still the one to have. I haven't got round to listening to that yet, so can't compare.

So far I have only listened to the Nabucco and some of the Parsifal. The Nabucco is definitely better than any other I have heard so far (though Ars Vocalis has recently issued a version, which is also very good) and the Parisfal sounds better to me than my old Gala version, though it favours the voices over the orchestra. As it's the voices I'm interested in, this is fine with me.

People were worried that Warner would just use the old, not very good, EMI sources, but, for the most part, this appears not to have been the case. They don't appear to have been able to do much with the ropey sources for La Vestale, Alceste and Andrea Chenier.

I have my doubts about certain choices. I'd have gone for the La Scala 1955 Norma over London 1952, and probably preferred Cologne 1957 La Sonnambula over La Scala 1955. I also prefer Covent Garden Traviata to Lisbon (both 1958). I wonder why they chose to include the rather rough and ready Mexico Rigoletto, especially given the excellence of the studio recording. Why not the brilliant La Scala Un Ballo in Maschera of 1957, which is also in pretty good sound? I think I'd also have gone for the Dallas 1958 Medea  in preference to the 1953 Bernstein La Scala one, but just by a whisker.

The booklet is a bit unexciting, and the leaflets accompanying each set include essays on the operas themselves, which I assume most purchasers would already be familiar with. I'd have preferred something on the production and the provenance of the recording. A CD-ROM with libretti and translations would also have been useful.

Not a total success, then, but not bad for the price.


Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Spineur on September 23, 2017, 08:57:17 AM
For those interested in sound quality, I made a detailed comparison of a section of Vincenzo Bellini Il Pirata with Maria Callas as Imogene
from
1) the Warner live recording just issued.  The performance is Jan 27 th 1959 Carnegie Hall.  I dont own the CD I streamed it from Qobuz
2) Divina Record issue which uses the same performance as a source.
3) An excerpt released by Warner in the Callas rareties disc which was recorded in Nov 1961 at Kingsway Hall and is not a live performance.

3) has by far the best sound, unfortunately there is only 10 minutes of it.  I dont know if the whole opera from this recording session is available (have not seen it)
2) comes next.  The room noise is there but overall the sound is pretty clear.  The flac files are sort of funny has they dont play through my favorite player
1) A solid last, the Warner live remaster.  More room noise, an a muffled sound cutting the edge of Callas fortissimo
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Peregrine on September 23, 2017, 09:13:54 AM
Discussion is raging on the Talk Classical forum as to which of the sources is best. In the final analysis, it will depend on how acute your ears are, and on your listening equipment.

Most contributors seem to be of the impression that the Divina Anna Bolena is still the one to have. I haven't got round to listening to that yet, so can't compare.

So far I have only listened to the Nabucco and some of the Parsifal. The Nabucco is definitely better than any other I have heard so far (though Ars Vocalis has recently issued a version, which is also very good) and the Parisfal sounds better to me than my old Gala version, though it favours the voices over the orchestra. As it's the voices I'm interested in, this is fine with me.

People were worried that Warner would just use the old, not very good, EMI sources, but, for the most part, this appears not to have been the case. They don't appear to have been able to do much with the ropey sources for La Vestale, Alceste and Andrea Chenier.

I have my doubts about certain choices. I'd have gone for the La Scala 1955 Norma over London 1952, and probably preferred Cologne 1957 La Sonnambula over La Scala 1955. I also prefer Covent Garden Traviata to Lisbon (both 1958). I wonder why they chose to include the rather rough and ready Mexico Rigoletto, especially given the excellence of the studio recording. Why not the brilliant La Scala Un Ballo in Maschera of 1957, which is also in pretty good sound? I think I'd also have gone for the Dallas 1958 Medea  in preference to the 1953 Bernstein La Scala one, but just by a whisker.

The booklet is a bit unexciting, and the leaflets accompanying each set include essays on the operas themselves, which I assume most purchasers would already be familiar with. I'd have preferred something on the production and the provenance of the recording. A CD-ROM with libretti and translations would also have been useful.

Not a total success, then, but not bad for the price.

Thank you! FWIW, I listened to excerpts from both the new Warner master of Anna Bolena and the Divina mastering, and defintely prefered the Divina. Even streaming through my Zeppelin, the Divina was less muffled and Callas' voice had more clarity.
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on September 24, 2017, 04:32:03 PM
Quote
As before, my guide is Sir Denis Forman's sublimely witty and fond review of opera. My preferred version is this remastered 1956 recording *with a stellar cast led by Maria Callas. Nobody does "tormented" like Maria Callas. She could sing "These Are A Few of My Favorite Things" and make it sound so harrowing that the Von Trapp kids start wearing black and cutting themselves in the Hot Topic bathroom.


*
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/418G6%2BGbDjL.jpg)


https://www.popehat.com/2017/08/19/popehat-goes-to-the-opera-un-ballo-in-maschera/

 :laugh:
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Tsaraslondon on September 24, 2017, 10:44:43 PM
*
(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/418G6%2BGbDjL.jpg)


https://www.popehat.com/2017/08/19/popehat-goes-to-the-opera-un-ballo-in-maschera/

 :laugh:

Very amusing. However I would not agree with him when he says the Love Duets are not the highlight of the opera. The great Act II duet is one of the greatest in opera.

There is a superb live Callas recording of the opera too, in not bad sound, from La Scala in 1957. Callas and Di Stefano repeat their roles, Bastianini is Renato and Simionato Ulrica. Gavazzeni is a rather more propulsive conductor than the routinier Votto.

I compare the two Callas sets on my blog.

https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/callass-two-recordings-of-un-ballo-in-maschera/ (https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/callass-two-recordings-of-un-ballo-in-maschera/)
Title: Re: Maria Callas
Post by: Spineur on December 07, 2017, 10:55:01 AM
A new documentary movie "Maria by Callas" by Tom Wolf is coming out tomorrow.  Here is the clip

https://www.youtube.com/v/E-WGJbHfw9Q