Episode 226. Maria Callas

Episode 226. Maria Callas: The Singer of the Century



What is there to say about today’s featured artist, Maria Callas, who was born 100 years ago today? So many of my esteemed colleagues are weighing in with their Callas tributes today (both encyclopedic and deeply perceptive and knowledgeable) and there are all varieties of reconstituted Callas material also suddenly appearing, from newly-colorized films of Callas in action to virtual concerts with Maria as hologram, to some new biopic (goddess forbid!), to audio remasterings both laudable and ridiculous. I have nothing comparably “new” or erudite to add to the mix, so can only offer an episode predicated on my encounters with the voice and artistry of Maria Callas. There is no singer in the history of opera more important to me (and, I daresay, to opera in general) than Callas, who revolutionized bel canto and set completely new standards for every type of role she sang. I have chosen from among my favorite (live) Callas material to supplement my musings, going as far back as her Norma and Lady Macbeth in 1952 and as late as her 1974 comeback and her last recording, made the year before her untimely death. In these musical excerpts, La Divina is joined by tenor colleagues (and Countermelody favorites) Cesare Valletti, Jon Vickers, and Franco Corelli. As I listened to Callas this week, I remarked anew at her creative genius, which sprang primarily from faithfulness to the written score, and a burning need to make every phrase she intoned “say something.” May this episode be as cathartic a listening experience for you as it was for me in preparing it. Maria per sempre!


Vincenzo Bellini: Ah! non giunge (La sonnambula). Maria Callas, Antonino Votto, Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala [live Köln 04.VII.57]

Vincenzo Bellini: Ah, rendetemi la speme… Qui la voce sua soave (I puritani). Maria Callas, Nicola Rescigno, Dallas Symphony Orchestra [live 20.XI.57]

Giuseppe Verdi: Una macchia è qui tuttora (Macbeth). Maria Callas, Dario Caselli, Angela Vercelli, Victor de Sabata, Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala di Milano [live 07.XII.52]

Giuseppe Verdi: Parigi, o cara… Gran Dio, morir si giovane (La traviata). Maria Callas, Cesare Valletti, Nicola Rescigno, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [live 20.VI.58]

Gaetano Donizetti: Ahimè, sorge il tremendo fantasma… Ardon gl’incensi [Mad Scene] (Lucia di Lammermoor). Maria Callas, Herbert von Karajan, RIAS-Orchester Berlin, Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala di Milano [live Berlin 29.IX.55]

Vincenzo Bellini: Deh, non volerli vittime (Norma) Maria Callas, Giacomo Vaghi, Mirto Picchi, Vittorio Gui, Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [live London 18.XI.52]

Luigi Cherubini: Nemici senza cor (Medea). Maria Callas, Jon Vickers, Nicola Rescigno, Dallas Symphony Orchestra [live 06.XI.58]

Umberto Giordano: La mamma morta (Andrea Chénier) Maria Callas, Antonino Votto, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano [live 08.I.55]

Giacomo Puccini: Oh, come la sai bene l’arte di farti amare! (Tosca). Maria Callas, Franco Corelli, Fausto Cleva, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra [live 19.III.65]

Amilcare Ponchielli: Suicidio! (La Gioconda). Maria Callas, Robert Sutherland [live Boston 27.II.74]

Georges Bizet: L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Carmen). Maria Callas, Robert Sutherland [live Montréal 13.V.74]

Ludwig Van Beethoven: Ah, perfido! Op. 65 (excerpt). Maria Callas, Jeffrey Tate [live Paris 03.III.76]

Giuseppe Verdi: Arrigo! Ah, parli a un core (I vespri siciliani). Maria Callas, Nicola Rescigno, Orchestre du Théâtre National de l’Opéra de Paris [March 1969]

Gaetano Donizetti: Oh! chi si duole?… Al dolce guidami castel natio… Suon festivo?… Coppia iniqua (Anna Bolena). Maria Callas, Gabriella Carturan, Gianni Raimondi, Plinio Clabassi, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano [live 14.IV.57]

2 thoughts on “Episode 226. Maria Callas”

  1. Before the Qui la voce segment i believe shes talking to Meneghini when she calls for Titta, no?

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