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Thread: Nina Foresti: Was Anita Duval Maria Callas?

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    Default Nina Foresti: Was Anita Duval Maria Callas?

    The Callas fans on this forum will no doubt have heard of 'Nina Foresti'. The claim is that Callas appeared on Major Bowes Amateur hour (a radio talent contest) before she went to Greece. John Ardoin looked through the archives of the recordings of the radio broadcasts and thought that the performance of 'Un bel di' by Nina Foresti could have been Callas. Nina Foresti was the stage name of an applicant whose real name was Anita Duval. Here is the recording:



    There are various things for and against this being Callas, what do you think? Is it her?

    N.

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    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    that is the not the voice of a 12 year old

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    I'm convinced it's not her. It doesn't sound anything like her. Remember, only three years later she was singing Santuzza. Callas had one of the most easily recognisable voices you will hear. I can't believe we wouldn't hear some characteristics of the Callas we know even at the age of 12.

    Incidentally there's a clip of the 12 year old Julie Andrews singing Je suis Titania also on youtube, and it definitely sounds like Julie Andrews
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    I agree that it doesn't sound like her, however supporters of the Nina Foresti idea state that the talking voice sounds like a young Callas. Callas would have been 11 when this was recorded and Jackie Callas has said that she didn't have such a mature sound and that she sang 'A heart that's free' not 'Un bel di' on the radio. I don't think it's Callas, but opinion is divided. Callas' cousin says that Nina Foresti was Callas and Nadia Stancioff says that Callas admitted it was her to her... Who is one to believe?

    N.

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    Oh boy, my ears say it is EVER her!! This one is easy.
    It's Callas all right, right down to the dialogue and how she expresses herself in speaking voice. (In my humble opinion of course)
    :-))

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    Quote Originally Posted by nina foresti View Post
    Oh boy, my ears say it is EVER her!! This one is easy.
    It's Callas all right, right down to the dialogue and how she expresses herself in speaking voice. (In my humble opinion of course)
    :-))
    I'll admit the speaking voice sounds a bit like her, but the singing voice, with its Jeanette MacDonald style fast vibrato, doesn't sound anything like Callas to me.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    The Callas voice is unmistakable from her first recordings to her last. I've heard this before and thought it sounded nothing at all like Callas. It still sounds nothing at all like Callas.

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    Senior Member gardibolt's Avatar
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    I'm thinking it's her. Sounds to me like Callas on helium, which I guess is an approximation of the 11 or 12 year old Maria. The speaking voice does sound more like Maria than the singing one, but if I had to bet I'm inclined to say yes it's her. Thanks for sharing that; I've read about it but never heard it. Obviously opinions vary.

    She does say her father is a chemist, and Callas' father had a pharmacy. Of course, she lies about being Italian, if it is Maria.
    Last edited by gardibolt; Aug-21-2015 at 20:38.
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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    The young lady in this recording doesn't sound 11 or 12 years old. The consistent tone and vibrato suggest someone at least in her mid-teens who has had some vocal training. The quick, fluttery vibrato is not that of Callas. The unmistakable reedy, oboe-like quality of Callas is entirely lacking. Here is Callas in her earliest recital, from 1949:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGtnHjcIH4M

    But we don't have to rely solely on our own ears. According to descriptions of the voice of the girl Callas, the voice of "Nina Foresti" does not in any way resemble it. Callas described her early voice as "dark, almost black - when I think of it, I think of thick molasses...They say I was not a true soprano, I was rather toward a mezzo." Because of the dark and heavy quality of her voice, Callas was at first considered to be a contralto, and it was only when she studied with Maria Trivella at the Greek National Conservatory that she was identified as a soprano. Two years later she began study with Elvira de Hidalgo, of whom Callas said: "I had a wonderful teacher, the old kind of teaching methods... I was a very heavy voice, that is my nature, a dark voice shall we call it, and I was always kept on the light side. She always trained me to keep my voice limber."

    It's clear that "Nina Foresti" is singing in her natural voice, not lightening and brightening it artificially, and it is the voice of a lyric soprano; there is nothing especially dark or heavy about it. When Callas auditioned for the Athens Conservatory, her voice did not impress the adjudicators; but if she had actually sung like "Nina Foresti" even then, she would hardly have failed to make more of an impression.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    The young lady in this recording doesn't sound 11 or 12 years old. The consistent tone and vibrato suggest someone at least in her mid-teens who has had some vocal training. The quick, fluttery vibrato is not that of Callas. The unmistakable reedy, oboe-like quality of Callas is entirely lacking. Here is Callas in her earliest recital, from 1949:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGtnHjcIH4M

    But we don't have to rely solely on our own ears. According to descriptions of the voice of the girl Callas, the voice of "Nina Foresti" does not in any way resemble it. Callas described her early voice as "dark, almost black - when I think of it, I think of thick molasses...They say I was not a true soprano, I was rather toward a mezzo." Because of the dark and heavy quality of her voice, Callas was at first considered to be a contralto, and it was only when she studied with Maria Trivella at the Greek National Conservatory that she was identified as a soprano. Two years later she began study with Elvira de Hidalgo, of whom Callas said: "I had a wonderful teacher, the old kind of teaching methods... I was a very heavy voice, that is my nature, a dark voice shall we call it, and I was always kept on the light side. She always trained me to keep my voice limber."

    It's clear that "Nina Foresti" is singing in her natural voice, not lightening and brightening it artificially, and it is the voice of a lyric soprano; there is nothing especially dark or heavy about it. When Callas auditioned for the Athens Conservatory, her voice did not impress the adjudicators; but if she had actually sung like "Nina Foresti" even then, she would hardly have failed to make more of an impression.
    I love your reasoning.

    Callas talks about radio contests here (at about 2.05):



    She can't recall if the particular contest she remembers was Major Bowes or not but she says it was on WOR and the master of cerimonies was Jack Benny. That information doesn't match with Major Bowes. Ardoin has said that the details fit Callas' father, but Anita Duval mentions her father's laboratories closing down and Major Bowes says he was a Chemist, whereas George Callas was a druggist with a pharmacy (that had closed down).

    Jackie Callas thought it was Major Bowes Amateur Hour, but was adamant that Maria sang 'A heart that's free' and didn't know any operatic arias at that age.

    I am inclined to think it isn't Callas, but some Callas scholars think it is her...

    N.

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    I also think that John Ardoin was so excited to have discovered a Callas 'rarity' that he was blinded to the pile of evidence that strongly suggests this wasn't Callas.

    Something I never noticed before: Anita Duval/Nina Foresti had red hair!

    http://www.mariacallasmuseum.org/_do...mc-doc-005.htm

    (It's under the note 'Faint possibility for future')

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    The young lady in this recording doesn't sound 11 or 12 years old. The consistent tone and vibrato suggest someone at least in her mid-teens who has had some vocal training. The quick, fluttery vibrato is not that of Callas. The unmistakable reedy, oboe-like quality of Callas is entirely lacking. Here is Callas in her earliest recital, from 1949:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGtnHjcIH4M

    But we don't have to rely solely on our own ears. According to descriptions of the voice of the girl Callas, the voice of "Nina Foresti" does not in any way resemble it. Callas described her early voice as "dark, almost black - when I think of it, I think of thick molasses...They say I was not a true soprano, I was rather toward a mezzo." Because of the dark and heavy quality of her voice, Callas was at first considered to be a contralto, and it was only when she studied with Maria Trivella at the Greek National Conservatory that she was identified as a soprano. Two years later she began study with Elvira de Hidalgo, of whom Callas said: "I had a wonderful teacher, the old kind of teaching methods... I was a very heavy voice, that is my nature, a dark voice shall we call it, and I was always kept on the light side. She always trained me to keep my voice limber."

    It's clear that "Nina Foresti" is singing in her natural voice, not lightening and brightening it artificially, and it is the voice of a lyric soprano; there is nothing especially dark or heavy about it. When Callas auditioned for the Athens Conservatory, her voice did not impress the adjudicators; but if she had actually sung like "Nina Foresti" even then, she would hardly have failed to make more of an impression.
    you pretty much nailed all the points I was going to make except one: the speaking voice is incredibly sultry and aristocratic. no 12 year old girl talks with that kind of inflection or timbre.

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