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Thread: Maria Callas vs. Leontyne Price

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    AAAAAArrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhh don't say it.............(Coca-Cola image)
    Much as I like that one, Marianna never said it, as you probably know. And anyway, it was about Tebaldi: 'Comparing me to Tebaldi is like comparing champagne to cognac'--meaning two completely different but distinguished voices/drinks. An overly enthusiastic journalist butt in: 'No. To Coca-Cola' and the two things got conflated and attributed to Callas. People loved that 'tigress' image invented by the press after the nasty process server mess in Chicago. It's just like the story about the Met Tosca where she was supposed to have been rude to George London during rehearsal. There was some stage business where they got tangled up with the chair and table legs. The ugly, inaccurate version has her saying, angrily, 'There's too much feet here!'. In the actual version, she and George laugh and she says 'Looks like we have too many legs.' Callas was never disrespectful to good colleagues ('There are even things to learn from bit players.').

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  3. #17
    Senior Member BalalaikaBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    In the 1949-53 period, Callas' voice was as often praised for its beauty as Tebaldi's. Go listen. And Price did not have a range to e'''; she had a c''' as her highest note. She actually ducks the written Db in her *first* TROVATORE. Before the diet, Callas's voice was enormous--according to Bonynge "you can't imagine how huge" and Sutherland who worked with her in the 1952 Covent Garden NORMA and 1953 AIDA. Even after the diet, in 1954, the voice remained quite big, though the top was less reliably steady. If you want to hear the heroic Callas, listen to the 1951 Mexico AIDA, any TROVATORE, any NORMA through 1955, FORZA, 1952 MACBETH (not a heroic character), 1949 NABUCCO, Cetra GIOCONDA, etc., etc. Your hair will blow back. Not spinto-sized like Price--good though Price could certainly be. Callas' 'muddiness' and difficulty in aligning the three registers of her voice were the result of vocal collapse owing to the issues I described earlier; nothing whatever to do with the real Callas--nor with music-making, which should be the crux of the matter. Price happily changed naturally; nothing so drastic or ruinous--her life wasn't so ridden with turmoil or illness. Callas' voice was very rounded indeed when the music called for it. If you describe Price as 'chocolate mousse' (no inadvertent racial profiling, I hope ;-) ), I think of Callas's great-period voice as liquid gold..
    I have. In fact, her earlier clips of Nabucco are among my favorite of all time, but honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of people bringing this up. That was 4 years of her career. Evaluating an opera singer based off of the amount of time people spend in high school doesn't make any sense. We need to talk about what they sounded like on average to make fair comparisons, at least for a more sizable period like, say, 10-20 years.

    as for Tebaldi, I never found Tebaldi's timbre particularly beautiful to begin with, so comparison doesn't mean a whole lot to me.

    Bite': that's articulation, and one needs it to illuminate the text. It could also be articulate and crisp but with a buttery quality--always as the music dictated. Price was pretty monochromatic by comparison. Again, I like Price, but this particular comparison is apples to oranges (or champagne to...)
    indeed. apples and oranges are quite different. that was my point

    PS: lol, no, I wasn't racially profiling I also describe Anna Moffo's voice that way (albeit a sweeter chocolate mousse. Moffo was a seductress while Price was a matriarch).

  4. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    ...In fact, her earlier clips of Nabucco are among my favorite of all time, but honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of people bringing this up. That was 4 years of her career. Evaluating an opera singer based off of the amount of time people spend in high school doesn't make any sense. We need to talk about what they sounded like on average to make fair comparisons, at least for a more sizable period like, say, 10-20 years...
    Physical issues made for a short career--though not all that short. What can I say? A candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Beyond 1953, she's still astounding musically, and vocally until 1958--though certain things become inconsistent. If the vocal glitches get in your way, then maybe she's not for you. Why write about her? It seems like a frustrating waste of time if she is not going to give you what you need. She was very level-headed herself about this and said "People who don't like me just shouldn't come and hear me. When I don't like something, I just don't bother about it."

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  6. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    I have. In fact, her earlier clips of Nabucco are among my favorite of all time, but honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of people bringing this up. That was 4 years of her career. Evaluating an opera singer based off of the amount of time people spend in high school doesn't make any sense. We need to talk about what they sounded like on average to make fair comparisons, at least for a more sizable period like, say, 10-20 years.

    as for Tebaldi, I never found Tebaldi's timbre particularly beautiful to begin with, so comparison doesn't mean a whole lot to me.


    indeed. apples and oranges are quite different. that was my point

    PS: lol, no, I wasn't racially profiling I also describe Anna Moffo's voice that way (albeit a sweeter chocolate mousse. Moffo was a seductress while Price was a matriarch).
    You need to get some backbone and learn how to have a strong opinion;-) LOL

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  8. #20
    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    I have. In fact, her earlier clips of Nabucco are among my favorite of all time, but honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of people bringing this up. That was 4 years of her career. Evaluating an opera singer based off of the amount of time people spend in high school doesn't make any sense. We need to talk about what they sounded like on average to make fair comparisons, at least for a more sizable period like, say, 10-20 years.
    Not when those four years represented the REAL original voice. It's not really four years. Callas has been singing with THAT voice since the 30s but we didn't get to hear it. Her big career in Italy started in 1947. It's a shame we only have the last four years of her first career to listen to. Afterwards it was a "damaged" voice. An "artificially changed" voice. It didn't change naturally as she was only 30 at that time!! Most singers today are still studying at that age! Unfortunately she went ahead and lost about 80lbs and compromised her breath support and vocal size. And let me quote Sutherland here:
    [Hearing Callas in Norma in 1952] "was a shock, a wonderful shock. You just got shivers up and down the spine. It was a bigger sound in those earlier performances, before she lost weight. I think she tried very hard to recreate the sort of "fatness" of the sound which she had when she was as fat as she was. But when she lost the weight, she couldn't seem to sustain the great sound that she had made, and the body seemed to be too frail to support that sound that she was making. Oh, but it was oh so exciting. It was thrilling. I don't think that anyone who heard Callas after 1955 really heard the Callas voice"
    Last edited by Tuoksu; Jan-10-2017 at 09:27.

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  10. #21
    Senior Member Panorama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BalalaikaBoy View Post
    I have. In fact, her earlier clips of Nabucco are among my favorite of all time, but honestly, I'm getting a bit tired of people bringing this up. That was 4 years of her career. Evaluating an opera singer based off of the amount of time people spend in high school doesn't make any sense. We need to talk about what they sounded like on average to make fair comparisons, at least for a more sizable period like, say, 10-20 years.
    Have been away from this forum for quite a long time and it seems that discussions on Callas is as hot as ever.

    Callas' earlier career actually stretches back to 1939, when she sang Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana at the Olympia Theatre in Athens, quite a feat when still a student at the Athens Conservatory (15 years old - she was known to mature very quickly, in fact more quickly than most at her age back then)

    She signed a contract with the Greek National Opera in Athens and officially started her career as a professional opera singer in 1940 (16 years old)

    Her first major role at the Greek National Opera was Tosca in 1942 (18 years old)

    Two further breakthroughs took place in 1944, with Fidelio and Marta in Eugen d'Abert's Tiefland (two heavy dramatic roles at the age of 20) at the Greek National Opera. Both received rave reviews in the press.

    Not to mention several works from the Baroque era to the 20th-century in concerts and recitals.

    Taking into account those years in Greece, her earlier career should count as 15 years (1939 - 1953), not just 4 years. It's just TOO bad that only the final 4 years of the earlier career (1949 - 1953) are documented in sound and available for posterity.

    You should go and read up on Nicholas Petsalis-Diomidis's THE UNKNOWN CALLAS: THE GREEK YEARS for more details.



    amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Callas-Greek-...unknown+callas

    It's always best to do lots of homework.
    Last edited by Panorama; Jan-10-2017 at 14:56.

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  12. #22
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    Vocal purity. Leontyne Price.

    Passion and convincibility. Maria Callas.

    Plenty of room for both.

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  14. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alera Marishka View Post
    Who's better between these two great sopranos?
    It is very difficult to say. Both have very different strengths, style, diversity and abilities. One thing is sure, we do not have sopranos like these in 2017.
    "Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven

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  16. #24
    Senior Member Burroughs's Avatar
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    Price, is a great Aida, and her trovatore isn't too bad. She had an interesting voice, but she nowhere near matched Callas. What other soprano could match Callas though? Who could match her heartbreaking Violetta, which she sang along side a ferocious Medea, a divine Norma, a helpless Butterfly, a jealous Tosca or innocent Gilda? Between 1950 and 1959 Callas was unmatched. Price was certainly a great soprano but I find her voice, especially later in her career a bit odd. She had a longer career, however, to have achieved what Callas achieved in the space of nine year, from age 25 - 34 no less, is quite outstanding. For her main career her flame burnt brighter than all others.
    “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

    - Mozart

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Just to keep the balance - it's so easy not to when Callas is under discussion! - Price in her vocal prime had one of those voices that could just slay you with its radiant beauty. Her recordings of the songs of Samuel Barber, especially of "Knoxville, Summer of 1915," are superb, and essential in any collection.

    The human voice at its finest has an intrinsic power to enchant and move us. The young Price, I think, had one of those voices, and in the right music (Barber, Gershwin, American music in general) she's pretty hard to beat.

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  19. #26
    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    While this is not directly related to the Price/Callas comparison, it does connect with the comments about Callas' short career which, as has been noted, was actually longer than she is often credited with. While she started very young, she did have solid training and technique which helped her when the voice started having problems. Let us not forget a Callas-wannabe, Elena Suliotis, who tried to do too much, too soon, and really flamed out.

    As a personal aside, while I very much enjoy singers such as Kiri Te Kanawa who had vocal beauty to burn but was a tad short in the dramatic aspect, most of my favourites are singers where the dramatic ability and vocal beauty leaned more towards the former, e.g. Anja Silja, Hildegard Behrens, Gwyneth Jones, etc.

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