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Thread: New MARIA CALLAS box set......

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    Quote Originally Posted by anniefischer View Post
    New Study Claims Steroids Stopped Heart Of Maria Callas

    "...According to the research of the two professors, the famous soprano Maria Callas was sick with dermatomyositis - an illness that affects muscles and tissues, including those of the larynx. Dr. Franco Fussi stresses that the disease is treated with cortisone and immunosuppressive medications that can cause heart failure. According to the official medical report, Maria Callas died of cardiac arrest."
    http://www.grreporter.info/en/maria_..._and_life/3863
    Man, I hate these postmortems where there hasn't been a body for almost 40 years nor any extant medical evidence! It also makes no sense, because prolonged use of cortisone (prednisone now) would kill someone far sooner than that! Moreover, the evidence shows that Callas' voice was not helped in the least so it's impossible to believe hat she was on any such drug. I note the years they selected: 1958-76. Titta reported, with documentation, that Maria went into premature menopause in late 1957. The hormonal changes in her body seem far more likely to have caused her voice to deteriorate, precisely then. 1958 is the year when it becomes wiry and difficult, and after that, one can see why see gave up struggling and hid the truth behind a tawdry affair with a gangster. It's not even difficult to see why she went through such an early menopause: [1] the stress from the radical weight loss in 1953-4, [2] the terrible stress under which she always placed herself anyway, [3] the fact that she also reached maturity at a nonsensically early age of eleven or earlier--if she really was 'Nina Foresti.' She said herself that when she and her mother and sister arrived in Greece, she was thirteen but claimed to be seventeen so she could be admitted to the Athens Conservatory, and was easily believed. [3a] She was infertile. She and Titta had tried numerous times to have children but were unable to do so; Maria was finally diagnosed, in the early 1950s, with a malformed uterus. So everything happened too early for Maria, including, alas, her demise. All this also gives the lie to the idiotic stories about a stillbirth in 1960 or an abortion a few years later, as she was already post-menopausal several years before either concocted story is supposed to have occurred.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post


    This recital, the second Callas recorded for EMI, was designed to show off her versatility, so we get one side of verismo, and one of coloratura, with Boito’s L’altra notte from Mefistofele bridging the gap. It caused quite a stir at the time. The coloratura side was of material more associated with singers like Galli-Curci and Pagliughi; the verismo items more likely to be the preserve of Ponselle and Muzio, or her contemporary, Tebaldi. There is no doubt that Tebaldi could not have attempted any of the coloratura items on the disc and the gauntlet was effectively laid down. The range too is phenomenal, and takes her up to a high E natural (in the Vespri aria, and the Bell Song), a note unthinkable from a soprano who could bring the power she does to an aria like La mamma morta.

    Of the operas represented, Callas had only sung Mefistofele and I Vespri Siciliani on stage at that time, though she would go on to sing Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (and make a very successful studio recording) and Maddalena in Andrea Chenier. But, as is her wont, even in isolation, Callas is able to enter fully into the character and sound world of each character that she is singing.

    She starts with two of Adrianna’s solos from Adrianna Lecouvreur, a role that would no doubt have suited her dramatic gifts down to the ground, though, truth to tell, the opera is pretty tawdry stuff. I have the recording with Scotto and Domingo, who make the very best case for it, but I still have little time for it. That said, Callas is brilliant at conveying Adrianna’s humility in the first aria, her pain and sadness in the second. Her recording of La mamma morta is well known, and became quite a hit after it was featured in the Tom Hanks Oscar winning movie Philadelphia. Notable is the way Callas’s tone colour matches that of the cello in the opening bars, and the way she carefully charts its mounting rapture. Some may prefer a richer, fuller sound. None have sung it with such intensity.

    Ebben ne ando lontana is full of aching loneliness, its climax solid as a rock, but the prize of this first side is without doubt the crepuscular beauty of Margherita’s L’altra notte from Boito’s Mefistofele, a sort of mini mad scene, which Callas fills with a wealth of colour and imagination. One notes the blank, colourless tone at L’aura e fredda, even more drained and hopeless on its repeat, the baleful sound of her voice on E la mesta anima mia; and does any other singer so accurately encompass those coloratura flights of fancy as her soul takes wing on Vola, vola? This is the stuff of genius.

    The second side also has its attractions. Rosina’s Una voce poco fa is a mite slower than it was to become in the studio set, but Callas’s ideas on the character are perfectly formed, and she already uses that explosive Ma to underline Rosina’s less than docile temperament. Her runs, scales and fioriture are as elastic as ever, but the little turns on the final faro giocar have to be heard to be believed.

    The Dinorah aria is a rather empty piece and I sometimes wonder why she even bothered with it. There are some magical echo effects and her singing is wonderfully fleet and accurate, but it’s not a favourite of mine. I’m not a big fan of the Bell Song either, to be honest. Callas lavishes possibly more attention on it than it’s worth, but in so doing at least makes it a little more interesting than the birdlike warblings we usually get. The opening has a mesmeric , almost improvisational air about it, and the bell imitations are clear and true. I remember once playing this track at a friend’s flat one warm summer evening, the window open, while a bird (I have no idea what it was) sang for all its worth on a branch just outside. It was as if the bird was singing in response. The high E she sings at its climax is clean as a whistle, but it does sound like the very extreme of her range.

    To finish we have a blithely elegant Merce dilette amiche from Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani. Notable here is the way she phrases into and caresses the line at O caro sogno o dolce ebbrezza. The top E rings out a little more truly here than it does in the Bell Song, bringing to a close a thoroughly rewarding and thrillingly contrasted recital.

    Serafin and the Philharmonia give invaluable support. Yet another classic of the gramophone.


    Ordinarily I'm a fast reader.

    However, when I read these posts, I get tripped up in mid-sentence trying to recollect all of the subtleties that are being alluded to-- and more often than not I find myself going back to the drawing board, putting the cd on, and listening to the point that was made. . . and then of course having that wonderful epiphanic moment-- not unlike, I'm afraid to say, a religious conversion-- and saying: "YES! That's it! WONDERFUL!"

    Greg deserves a ceremony worthy of DeMille and chronic pararazzo abuse for the rest of his life for pointing out all of this exquisite beauty.

    Sorry for the gush, but he really does bring it upon himself.

    ;D
    Last edited by Marschallin Blair; Jan-11-2015 at 20:34.
    "Let me have my own way in exactly everything, and a sunnier and more pleasant creature does not exist." - Thomas Carlyle

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    Man, I hate these postmortems where there hasn't been a body for almost 40 years nor any extant medical evidence! It also makes no sense, because prolonged use of cortisone (prednisone now) would kill someone far sooner than that! Moreover, the evidence shows that Callas' voice was not helped in the least so it's impossible to believe hat she was on any such drug. I note the years they selected: 1958-76. Titta reported, with documentation, that Maria went into premature menopause in late 1957. The hormonal changes in her body seem far more likely to have caused her voice to deteriorate, precisely then. 1958 is the year when it becomes wiry and difficult, and after that, one can see why see gave up struggling and hid the truth behind a tawdry affair with a gangster. It's not even difficult to see why she went through such an early menopause: [1] the stress from the radical weight loss in 1953-4, [2] the terrible stress under which she always placed herself anyway, [3] the fact that she also reached maturity at a nonsensically early age of eleven or earlier--if she really was 'Nina Foresti.' She said herself that when she and her mother and sister arrived in Greece, she was thirteen but claimed to be seventeen so she could be admitted to the Athens Conservatory, and was easily believed. [3a] She was infertile. She and Titta had tried numerous times to have children but were unable to do so; Maria was finally diagnosed, in the early 1950s, with a malformed uterus. So everything happened too early for Maria, including, alas, her demise. All this also gives the lie to the idiotic stories about a stillbirth in 1960 or an abortion a few years later, as she was already post-menopausal several years before either concocted story is supposed to have occurred.
    I now regret very much that I had posted that Opera Fresh blog news item in the beginning. My original intention was simply to share a latest news item regarding La Divina, and nothing else at all. Now it seems that I should have given it a very careful thought in the first place that such post-mortems are in the end mere speculations and hardly add anything substantial to our understanding of the great diva. Since removing a posting already with replies to it would infringe upon the terms of service of this forum and other members' rights to post, it's simply too late to make any amends now. I could only hope that healthy, meaningful conversations focusing solely and squarely on the great lady's peerless and incomparable artistry, musicianship and recorded legacy can move on undisturbed (and without touching anything at all on her private life in order to leave the great lady in peace).
    Last edited by anniefischerfan; Jan-12-2015 at 05:25.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    I like this album cover (absolutely beautiful picture) way better than the one I ordered (earlier post) but this one is nearly $17 vs the $4.50 I paid. Appears to be the same collection. Ah, it probably would have been worth the extra $ just for the nice cover.
    print it off and stick it on the other cover
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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    Quote Originally Posted by anniefischer View Post
    I now regret very much that I had posted that Opera Fresh blog news item in the beginning.
    Don't beat yourself up, Annie - it is useful to have such theories put on here as it allows debate of them - and, as in this case, that debate adds to the knowledge of readers.

    I think it is fine because of the informative and interesting response of RES (and you are not the first to have posted this particular link on TC in the last year)
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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    I received the box set last week, along with 5 of the "live" operas that were recommended by various people.

    The Butterfly is my early favorite, just a staggering performance (or, rather, embodiment) by her. The second half is actually quite difficult to take, and I won't listen to it often because I simply can't gear up mentally for the dedication that performance warrants.

    The book is wonderful as well.
    I'll call you Doctor if you call me Admiral

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    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral View Post
    I received the box set last week, along with 5 of the "live" operas that were recommended by various people.

    The Butterfly is my early favorite, just a staggering performance (or, rather, embodiment) by her. The second half is actually quite difficult to take, and I won't listen to it often because I simply can't gear up mentally for the dedication that performance warrants.

    The book is wonderful as well.
    Keep going-- it only gets better. ;D

    You'll be utterly destroyed-- but it builds character.
    "Let me have my own way in exactly everything, and a sunnier and more pleasant creature does not exist." - Thomas Carlyle

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    Quote Originally Posted by anniefischer View Post
    I now regret very much that I had posted that Opera Fresh blog news item in the beginning. My original intention was simply to share a latest news item regarding La Divina, and nothing else at all. Now it seems that I should have given it a very careful thought in the first place that such post-mortems are in the end mere speculations and hardly add anything substantial to our understanding of the great diva. Since removing a posting already with replies to it would infringe upon the terms of service of this forum and other members' rights to post, it's simply too late to make any amends now. I could only hope that healthy, meaningful conversations focusing solely and squarely on the great lady's peerless and incomparable artistry, musicianship and recorded legacy can move on undisturbed (and without touching anything at all on her private life in order to leave the great lady in peace).
    No problem, anniefischer. It's another instance that highlights Callas remaining such a fascinating and vital artistic force that the tabloidism of her lifetime during her great years, like her recordings, is still as salable sixty years later. A compliment to her really: how many deceased performing artists remain so alive for so long?
    Last edited by RES; Jan-13-2015 at 16:12.

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    This is the first recital record I ever owned, and for some time the only recital record I owned. As such it has quite a lot of sentimental value for me. Most of the music was new to me at that time and I played it constantly. I got to know it so well that I can even now listen without libretto and mime the words. However, as I got older, my tastes changed. I got to love the music of Verdi, Bellini and Donizetti. I felt Callas’s gifts were wasted on Puccini, and so my first love got rather pushed aside. I tended not to listen to this recital quite so often.

    To listen to it again now, in this fantastic new re-mastering from Warner (one almost feels as if Callas were in the room with you), was a moving experience and, from the first note, she had me riveted.

    Most Puccini recitals tend to the samey, but Callas presents us with a different voice character in each opera. Of the roles represented here, she had at that time only sung Turandot on stage, though she would go on to sing Butterfly in Chicago in 1955. She also went on to record complete performances of Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, and Manon Lescaut, as well as Turandot (though a little late in her career.

    As usual Callas is the mistress of vocal characterisation. Manon, Butterfly, Mimi, Angelica, Lauretta, Liu and Turandot all emerge as completely different characters, but, even within a single aria, she can reveal some hidden depth within the character. Manon, tenderly regretful in In quelle trine moribide, gives way to passion and despair in Sola perduta abbandonata, a despair already hinted at in her voicing of un freddo che m’agghiaccia in the first aria. Butterfly’s wistful imagining of the return of Pinkerton is brilliantly charted, her death scene almost unbearably intense. Mimi is shy and withdrawn, but the warmth which Callas brings to the Ma quando vien lo sgelo section reveals Mimi’s capacity for selfless love. Angelica’s resigned sadness gives way to a surprisingly sweet and cajoling Lauretta.

    Quite the biggest contrast comes when she sings both Liu and Turandot. Liu’s arias are sung feelingly, but possibly with a bit too much muscle, and the ending of Signore ascolta doesn’t eclipse memories of Caballe or Schwarzkopf in the same piece, but Turandot’s In questa reggia is surely one of the best ever recorded. Callas at this time still had the power and security on top to ride its high-lying phrases; and please note she actually sings the words Gli enigmi sono tre on the phrase that takes her up to a top C. Most sopranos, Eva Turner included, reduce them to a vocalise. Furthermore the aria is filled with little details overlooked by most; the almost mystical way she launches the section beginning Principessa Lou-u- Ling, singing with mounting ardour until she vocally points her finger at Calaf with the phrase Un uomo como te. Almost regretful on the section O principe che a lunghe carovane, she strengthens her resolve again at io vendico su voi till her voice cries out with conviction at quell grido e quella morte. Would that she had recorded Turandot at the same time. This is the greatest prize on the recital.

    The one uncomfortable moment I remember from the recital (Angelica’s final floated high A) for some reason sounds far less wobbly here than it ever did before, and the voice in this re-mastering has enormous presence. Serafin, as ever, provides invaluable support.

    A classic of the gramophone.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post


    This is the first recital record I ever owned, and for some time the only recital record I owned. As such it has quite a lot of sentimental value for me. Most of the music was new to me at that time and I played it constantly. I got to know it so well that I can even now listen without libretto and mime the words. However, as I got older, my tastes changed. I got to love the music of Verdi, Bellini and Donizetti. I felt Callas’s gifts were wasted on Puccini, and so my first love got rather pushed aside. I tended not to listen to this recital quite so often.

    To listen to it again now, in this fantastic new re-mastering from Warner (one almost feels as if Callas were in the room with you), was a moving experience and, from the first note, she had me riveted.

    Most Puccini recitals tend to the samey, but Callas presents us with a different voice character in each opera. Of the roles represented here, she had at that time only sung Turandot on stage, though she would go on to sing Butterfly in Chicago in 1955. She also went on to record complete performances of Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, and Manon Lescaut, as well as Turandot (though a little late in her career.

    As usual Callas is the mistress of vocal characterisation. Manon, Butterfly, Mimi, Angelica, Lauretta, Liu and Turandot all emerge as completely different characters, but, even within a single aria, she can reveal some hidden depth within the character. Manon, tenderly regretful in In quelle trine moribide, gives way to passion and despair in Sola perduta abbandonata, a despair already hinted at in her voicing of un freddo che m’agghiaccia in the first aria. Butterfly’s wistful imagining of the return of Pinkerton is brilliantly charted, her death scene almost unbearably intense. Mimi is shy and withdrawn, but the warmth which Callas brings to the Ma quando vien lo sgelo section reveals Mimi’s capacity for selfless love. Angelica’s resigned sadness gives way to a surprisingly sweet and cajoling Lauretta.

    Quite the biggest contrast comes when she sings both Liu and Turandot. Liu’s arias are sung feelingly, but possibly with a bit too much muscle, and the ending of Signore ascolta doesn’t eclipse memories of Caballe or Schwarzkopf in the same piece, but Turandot’s In questa reggia is surely one of the best ever recorded. Callas at this time still had the power and security on top to ride its high-lying phrases; and please note she actually sings the words Gli enigmi sono tre on the phrase that takes her up to a top C. Most sopranos, Eva Turner included, reduce them to a vocalise. Furthermore the aria is filled with little details overlooked by most; the almost mystical way she launches the section beginning Principessa Lou-u- Ling, singing with mounting ardour until she vocally points her finger at Calaf with the phrase Un uomo como te. Almost regretful on the section O principe che a lunghe carovane, she strengthens her resolve again at io vendico su voi till her voice cries out with conviction at quell grido e quella morte. Would that she had recorded Turandot at the same time. This is the greatest prize on the recital.

    The one uncomfortable moment I remember from the recital (Angelica’s final floated high A) for some reason sounds far less wobbly here than it ever did before, and the voice in this re-mastering has enormous presence. Serafin, as ever, provides invaluable support.

    A classic of the gramophone.
    Callas' nuanced portraiture of Turandot is certainly nothing short of genius alright.

    That we don't have a Turandot of hers from this time period (or even the one from the Teatro de Colon in Argentina from the late forties) is truly paradise lost .

    "Let me have my own way in exactly everything, and a sunnier and more pleasant creature does not exist." - Thomas Carlyle

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    Given Legge’s musical conservatism, it always surprises me Il Turco in Italia was recorded at all; after all, it was not one of Rossini’s better known works. We should be grateful that it was, though, for this set is pure joy from beginning to end. It might not take any prizes for textual accuracy now, and cuts abound, but objections fade away in a performance of such sparkle and wit.

    Callas had sung the role of Fiorilla in a production at the tiny Teatro Elisea in Rome in 1950 and would go on to sing it again in Milan in 1955 in a new production by Zeffirelli. Gavazzeni was in the pit on every occasion.

    Callas’s only other excursion into comedy was the role of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and, though the studio recording made in London was an outstanding success, her appearance in the role at La Scala was, by all accounts, one of the few low points in her career. No such caveats attach themselves to her Fiorilla, which seems to have been a success from day one. According to the critic Bebeducci, who was there at the opening night of the Rome production, it was “extremely difficult to believe that she can be the perfect interpreter of both Turandot and Isolde,” which was the reputation she had at that time. However, these performances could be seen to be a turning point in her career. After singing Kundry in concert the following month, she never again sang a Wagner role. The opera also introduced her to Luchino Visconti, who, with his friends of the Anfiparnasso intellectual circle, mounted the production, and who was to become a seminal influence on her in the years to come.

    Unlike so many of the operas she sang, and like most of Rossini’s comedies, Il Turco in Italia is an ensemble piece, and Callas is very much part of that ensemble. She has only one aria, Non si da follia maggiore which she sings with masterful ease, and a wonderful sense of the ironic, almost a vocal equivalent of an arched eyebrow. Indeed throughout so vivid is her verbal painting that you feel you can see every fleeting facial expression.

    One of the high points is her duet with her husband Geronio, sung with quite the right hangdog tones by Franco Calabrese. At first haughty, then contrite as she attempts to assuage his indignation (No mia vita), then angrily rounding on him, her voice lashing out on Ed osate minacciarmi like a verbal slap, she is the mistress of every comedic turn.

    She is surrounded by an excellent cast; the aforementioned Calabrese, the veteran Stabile, dry voiced but full of personality as the Poet, Rossi-Lemeni an ever vascillating Turk, Gedda a lyrical Narciso, and Gardino as Zaida, the gypsy girl with claws only a mite less sharp than Callas’s; but only Callas has the dexterity, the flexibility and the ease in coloratura to do full justice to Rossini’s florid writing.

    Gavazzeni conducts a sparkling version of the score. To get the opera in something like its original text you will have to turn to the Chailly recording with Bartoli. A deeper authenticity, however, lies in this version with Callas. One senses the performers had as much fun making it as we do listening to it.

    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post


    Given Legge’s musical conservatism, it always surprises me Il Turco in Italia was recorded at all; after all, it was not one of Rossini’s better known works. We should be grateful that it was, though, for this set is pure joy from beginning to end. It might not take any prizes for textual accuracy now, and cuts abound, but objections fade away in a performance of such sparkle and wit.

    Callas had sung the role of Fiorilla in a production at the tiny Teatro Elisea in Rome in 1950 and would go on to sing it again in Milan in 1955 in a new production by Zeffirelli. Gavazzeni was in the pit on every occasion.

    Callas’s only other excursion into comedy was the role of Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and, though the studio recording made in London was an outstanding success, her appearance in the role at La Scala was, by all accounts, one of the few low points in her career. No such caveats attach themselves to her Fiorilla, which seems to have been a success from day one. According to the critic Bebeducci, who was there at the opening night of the Rome production, it was “extremely difficult to believe that she can be the perfect interpreter of both Turandot and Isolde,” which was the reputation she had at that time. However, these performances could be seen to be a turning point in her career. After singing Kundry in concert the following month, she never again sang a Wagner role. The opera also introduced her to Luchino Visconti, who, with his friends of the Anfiparnasso intellectual circle, mounted the production, and who was to become a seminal influence on her in the years to come.

    Unlike so many of the operas she sang, and like most of Rossini’s comedies, Il Turco in Italia is an ensemble piece, and Callas is very much part of that ensemble. She has only one aria, Non si da follia maggiore which she sings with masterful ease, and a wonderful sense of the ironic, almost a vocal equivalent of an arched eyebrow. Indeed throughout so vivid is her verbal painting that you feel you can see every fleeting facial expression.

    One of the high points is her duet with her husband Geronio, sung with quite the right hangdog tones by Franco Calabrese. At first haughty, then contrite as she attempts to assuage his indignation (No mia vita), then angrily rounding on him, her voice lashing out on Ed osate minacciarmi like a verbal slap, she is the mistress of every comedic turn.

    She is surrounded by an excellent cast; the aforementioned Calabrese, the veteran Stabile, dry voiced but full of personality as the Poet, Rossi-Lemeni an ever vascillating Turk, Gedda a lyrical Narciso, and Gardino as Zaida, the gypsy girl with claws only a mite less sharp than Callas’s; but only Callas has the dexterity, the flexibility and the ease in coloratura to do full justice to Rossini’s florid writing.

    Gavazzeni conducts a sparkling version of the score. To get the opera in something like its original text you will have to turn to the Chailly recording with Bartoli. A deeper authenticity, however, lies in this version with Callas. One senses the performers had as much fun making it as we do listening to it.

    Turco 1.jpgTurco 2.jpg

    [The pictures show the 1955 La Scala production of Turco, with the young Franco Zeffirelli as stage director. It's a great pity that no live recording has left from this production. But the 1954 studio recording suffices to tell all that this comic opera simply shows what a great genius La Divina is, of a kind, like the great German maestro Wilhelm Furtwaengler (whom La Divina greatly admired in Beethoven symphonies), that very rarely appear on the world musical stage]

    La Divina has been widely recognized as an incomparable performer of the tragic heroines of Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini and villainous yet multi-faceted she-devils such as Medea and Lady M. However, her portrayal of Fiorilla in Rossini's Turco, the flirtatious, calculative minx who revels at her ability to manipulate men, has always appealed to me as an absolutely brilliant and memorable demonstration and showcase of her sheer musical genius and versatility. If this is not sheer genius, then I really don't know what this is.

    Her every moment in this comic feast is an absolute gem. There are just so many unforgettable moments in this set and like RES, I would just like to single out a dialogue in Act 1, beginning at the point when Fiorilla asks Selim whether there is enough sugar in the coffee she offers him, hinting at Selim whether she is enticing enough for him. Just by hearing her, one can easily imagine a pair of flirtatiously mischievous eyes blinking at Selim. Her impeccable sense of rhythm and timing is on full display everywhere. The delicious interplay between La Divina and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni makes it all the more amazing to think that this highly versatile pair had recorded one of the darkest and most tragic of all Verdi's operas just before recording Turco. Their switch from the tragic to the comic mode is so complete and perfect. This 1954 Turco has been relatively underrated among La Divina's studio recordings of complete operas, but for me it is one of the most treasurable. Once one gets hooked to it, one would never be able to let it go, so marvellous is La Divina in living out the character of Fiorilla, as is her chemistry with her co-principals.

    As always, many thanks to Greg for keeping the posts going and giving another absolutely spot-on review. Meanwhile, a review on the latest Warner remastering that has appeared for some time on amazon.com is also very much worth reading, especially for its detailed coverage of the musical matters regarding Turco:

    http://www.amazon.com/Maria-Callas-R.../ref=pd_ybh_19
    Last edited by anniefischerfan; Jan-17-2015 at 15:45.

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  21. #763
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post


    This is the first recital record I ever owned, and for some time the only recital record I owned. As such it has quite a lot of sentimental value for me. Most of the music was new to me at that time and I played it constantly. I got to know it so well that I can even now listen without libretto and mime the words. However, as I got older, my tastes changed. I got to love the music of Verdi, Bellini and Donizetti. I felt Callas’s gifts were wasted on Puccini, and so my first love got rather pushed aside. I tended not to listen to this recital quite so often.

    To listen to it again now, in this fantastic new re-mastering from Warner (one almost feels as if Callas were in the room with you), was a moving experience and, from the first note, she had me riveted.

    Most Puccini recitals tend to the samey, but Callas presents us with a different voice character in each opera. Of the roles represented here, she had at that time only sung Turandot on stage, though she would go on to sing Butterfly in Chicago in 1955. She also went on to record complete performances of Madama Butterfly, La Boheme, and Manon Lescaut, as well as Turandot (though a little late in her career.

    As usual Callas is the mistress of vocal characterisation. Manon, Butterfly, Mimi, Angelica, Lauretta, Liu and Turandot all emerge as completely different characters, but, even within a single aria, she can reveal some hidden depth within the character. Manon, tenderly regretful in In quelle trine moribide, gives way to passion and despair in Sola perduta abbandonata, a despair already hinted at in her voicing of un freddo che m’agghiaccia in the first aria. Butterfly’s wistful imagining of the return of Pinkerton is brilliantly charted, her death scene almost unbearably intense. Mimi is shy and withdrawn, but the warmth which Callas brings to the Ma quando vien lo sgelo section reveals Mimi’s capacity for selfless love. Angelica’s resigned sadness gives way to a surprisingly sweet and cajoling Lauretta.

    Quite the biggest contrast comes when she sings both Liu and Turandot. Liu’s arias are sung feelingly, but possibly with a bit too much muscle, and the ending of Signore ascolta doesn’t eclipse memories of Caballe or Schwarzkopf in the same piece, but Turandot’s In questa reggia is surely one of the best ever recorded. Callas at this time still had the power and security on top to ride its high-lying phrases; and please note she actually sings the words Gli enigmi sono tre on the phrase that takes her up to a top C. Most sopranos, Eva Turner included, reduce them to a vocalise. Furthermore the aria is filled with little details overlooked by most; the almost mystical way she launches the section beginning Principessa Lou-u- Ling, singing with mounting ardour until she vocally points her finger at Calaf with the phrase Un uomo como te. Almost regretful on the section O principe che a lunghe carovane, she strengthens her resolve again at io vendico su voi till her voice cries out with conviction at quell grido e quella morte. Would that she had recorded Turandot at the same time. This is the greatest prize on the recital.

    The one uncomfortable moment I remember from the recital (Angelica’s final floated high A) for some reason sounds far less wobbly here than it ever did before, and the voice in this re-mastering has enormous presence. Serafin, as ever, provides invaluable support.

    A classic of the gramophone.
    Once again our scribe invokes and awakes our original intent. This is why we buy these recordings, this is why we ponder and question and listen and, yes, judge.

    I imagine that Ms. Callas would approve. Indeed, would be flattered that we listen and discuss and ponder, 40, and 50 years on.
    But then again, she would have known, because the great ones know their place in history.
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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    I like this album cover (absolutely beautiful picture) way better than the one I ordered (earlier post) but this one is nearly $17 vs the $4.50 I paid. Appears to be the same collection. Ah, it probably would have been worth the extra $ just for the nice cover.
    My 6-CD Callas set arrived and it is wonderful--absolutely wonderful! Also I just printed the picture above (different release of same set) and inserted it in the front of the CD case! But of course the best part is her voice!
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Jan-17-2015 at 23:49.
    "Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Sahara of musical trash."
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    Opera mysteries to solve.......

    I have yet to detect a logical sequence in GM's selection of Callas opera to review next, is it just random selection or is there another "secret order" I have yet to uncover, who knows the answer......
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Jan-18-2015 at 16:47.

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