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

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    Senior Member anniefischerfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    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......
    Regarding the complete opera set that Greg would review next, I have already dropped a hint in my response to his review of Rossini's Turco. This opera contains some of the most glorious music that Verdi had ever written for a lyric-dramatic soprano. Unfortunately, I had not touched anything from this opera for a long, long time for the same reason that explains why Luciano Pavarotti never sang this opera on stage nor recorded it in the studio. The American baritone Leonard Warren passed away all out of a sudden during a performance of this opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera on March 4th 1960.

    According to a detailed performance annals of La Divina compiled by Frank Hamilton, Maria sang this Verdi opera four times in Trieste in April 1948, and only a further two times in Ravenna in May 1954, before recording it in the studio for EMI in August 1954, just before she recorded Turco. The studio recording was Callas' farewell to the opera, even though she was to program a major aria from this opera in her concert in Athens in August 1957 during her return to Greece.

    Would leave it to the rest to guess what this opera is.
    Last edited by anniefischerfan; Jan-18-2015 at 17:42.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    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......
    Not that difficult, DA. I'm working through in reverse chronological order. Just been listening to La Forza Del Destino today.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by anniefischer View Post
    Regarding the complete opera set that Greg would review next, I have already dropped a hint in my response to his review of Rossini's Turco. This opera contains some of the most glorious music that Verdi had ever written for a lyric-dramatic soprano. Unfortunately, I had not touched anything from this opera for a long, long time for the same reason that explains why Luciano Pavarotti never sang this opera on stage nor recorded it in the studio. The American baritone Leonard Warren passed away all out of a sudden during a performance of this opera at the New York Metropolitan Opera on March 4th 1960.

    According to a detailed performance annals of La Divina compiled by Frank Hamilton, Maria sang this Verdi opera four times in Trieste in April 1948, and only a further two times in Ravenna in May 1954, before recording it in the studio for EMI in August 1954, just before she recorded Turco. The studio recording was Callas' farewell to the opera, even though she was to program a major aria from this opera in her concert in Athens in August 1957 during her return to Greece.

    Would leave it to the rest to guess what this opera is.
    You are, of course, spot on.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by anniefischer View Post
    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...

    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.

    ... 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
    Thanks, anniefischer, for the citation. I'm also always amazed at Ardoin who wrote that Callas' Rossini singing 'lacked great charm'. I don't know what he was thinking; both her Rosina and Fiorilla have tons of delicious charm as well as everything else. And if, as is often claimed, 'she had no sense of humor', one certainly can't tell it in her music-making. She is more effective in the comic roles she took on than any ten 'Rossini mezzos'.

    The Amazon review with the information about the Turco edition issues was written by my bel canto expert buddy Matt (he's not a professional musicologist but you'd never know it). I note that the aria near the end of the opera--the genuinely big soprano aria--was not discovered until twenty years after the EMI recording, but hilariously, John Ardoin wrote in 'Legacy' that Maria sings it beautifully! Did he even listen to this recording?! I liked him but wondered about him, given the above and his authentication of the absurd Rodolphe/Eklipse Records forged Teatro Colon Turandot Act 2, which Pablo Berutti and I easily proved to be a concoction of three commercial recordings (TOQ Summer 2000, pp. 538-9); John recanted in the same TOQ issue right below Pablo's and my findings. Perhaps it was that he was really a small-time reviewer who just latched onto Maria.

    Also, while we don't have sound samples from the 1955 Zeffirelli production, we have something better: 'Non si da` follia maggiore' from October 1950. Both Rome performances were recorded in their entirety by RAI, which seems to have mislaid all but this one acetate disc; it resurfaced about ten years ago. It would be lovely if the rest turned up some day. The 1954 recording is glorious (and I still prefer the 1993 German pressing of the Hardwick transfer, which highlights the comedy better than the very good Warner), but the 1950 aria, sung of course by pre-diet Callas, is even more astounding, complete with cadenza and high E-flat.Attachment 61481
    Last edited by RES; Jan-19-2015 at 04:24.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    Thanks, anniefischer, for the citation. I'm also always amazed that Ardoin wrote that Callas' Rossini singing 'lacked charm'. I don't know what he was thinking; both her Rosina and Fiorilla have tons of delicious charm as well as everything else. And if, as is often claimed, 'she had no sense of humor', one certainly can't tell in her music-making. She is more effective in the comic roles she took on than any ten 'Rossini mezzos'.

    The Amazon review with the information about the Turco edition issues was written by my bel canto expert buddy Matt (he's not a pro musicologist but you'd never know it). I note that the aria near the end of the opera--the genuinely big soprano aria--was not discovered until twenty years after the EMI recording, but hilariously, John Ardoin wrote in 'Legacy' that Maria sings it beautifully! Did he even listen to this recording?! I liked him but I always wondered about his scruples, given the above and his authentication of Rodolphe/Eklipse Records' forged Teatro Colon Turandot Act 2, which Pablo Berutti and I proved to be a concoction of three commercial recordings (TOQ Summer 2000, pp. 538-9); John recanted in the same TOQ issue right below Pablo's and my findings. After all, he was a small-time reviewer until he latched onto Maria, and not a serious scholar.

    Also, while we don't have sound samples from the 1955 Zeffirelli production, we have something better: 'Non si da` follia maggiore' from October 1950. Both Rome performances were recorded in their entirety by RAI, which seems to have mislaid all but this one acetate disc; it resurfaced about ten years ago. It would be lovely if the rest turned up some day. The 1954 recording is glorious (and I still prefer the 1993 German pressing of the Hardwick transfer, which highlights the comedy better than the very good Warner), but the 1950 aria, sung of course by pre-diet Callas, is even more astounding, complete with cadenza and high E-flat.Attachment 61481
    Oh wow! Just wow!
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Not that difficult, DA. I'm working through in reverse chronological order. Just been listening to La Forza Del Destino today.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Attachment 52333

    So my Callas Remastered set arrived today, and I decided to do the opposite of what most people are doing, ie start at the end.

    The Callas Rarities covers recordings made for EMI between 1953 and 1969. Apart from the mono version of the Sleepwalking Scene from Macbeth and the Scena from Il Pirata, none of these items were approved for release by Callas, so it is important to remember that when listening.
    It seems you gave us the road plan back in post 302.......but that was some time ago

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    Great writing as always, Greg. One thing that annoys me about the Warner release is that, because the name 'Columbia' is owned by Sony, the cover art is ridiculously unbalanced, with that huge blank lower third which used to read:

    Columbia [and the two-semiquaver logo]
    LONG PLAYING 33 1/3 R.P. M. RECORD

    Also, the UK cover has a pre-diet picture of the by-then slim Callas, which the US Angel cover does not. They should have used the Angel cover--for this and really, for everything because Warner owns 'Angel' and they could have been true repro covers. The prominent 'W' is irritating also; it makes me think of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies, most issued by Warner (films which I like as I do most of Sir Christopher's work, but not when I see a Callas cover).
    Last edited by RES; Jan-18-2015 at 19:48.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    Great writing as always, Greg. One thing that annoys me about the Warner release is that, because the name 'Columbia' is owned by Sony, the cover art is ridiculously unbalanced, with that huge blank lower third which used to read:

    Columbia [and the two-semiquaver logo]
    LONG PLAYING 33 1/3 R.P. M. RECORD

    Also, the UK cover has a pre-diet picture of the by-then slim Callas, which the US Angel cover does not. They should have used the Angel cover--for this and really, for everything because Warner owns 'Angel' and they could have been true repro covers. The prominent 'W' is irritating also; it makes me think of the Christopher Lee Dracula movies, most issued by Warner (films which I like as I do most of Sir Christopher's work, but not when I see a Callas cover).
    But this is the cover I remember, so it has more nostalgia for me. Were the records not first issued in the UK on the Columbia label before being issued in the US on Angel? If so, it makes sense to me to use the original Columbia covers. That said, I too find the blue Warner logo in the corner jarring as well.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    But this is the cover I remember, so it has more nostalgia for me. Were the records not first issued in the UK on the Columbia label before being issued in the US on Angel? If so, it makes sense to me to use the original Columbia covers. That said, I too find the blue Warner logo in the corner jarring as well.
    Pretty sure they were issued simultaneously. Soria's point with EMI was, in fact, the simultaneous distribution on both sides of the Atlantic--Columbia in Europe and Angel in the States. All were made from the same matrices in England and fitted with either the Columbia or Angel label and cover art (as a separate outer sleeve most of the time). They were always described in shops as 'imports' here.This is the cover that is nostalgic for me (I have two of them as well as an original UK Columbia LP).
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MARIA-CALLAS...item3aa047204c
    Last edited by RES; Jan-18-2015 at 21:28.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    Pretty sure they were issued simultaneously. Soria's point with EMI was, in fact, the simultaneous distribution on both sides of the Atlantic--Columbia in Europe and Angel in the States. All were made from the same matrices in England and fitted with either the Columbia or Angel label and cover art (as a separate outer sleeve most of the time). They were always described in shops as 'imports' here.This is the cover that is nostalgic for me (I have two of them as well as an original UK Columbia LP).
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MARIA-CALLAS...item3aa047204c
    I've never seen that cover, but I recognise the photo. One of the Angus McBean photos, isn't it?
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    I've never seen that cover, but I recognise the photo. One of the Angus McBean photos, isn't it?
    I believe so. Interestingly, in addition to Angel (both Puccini and Coloratura-Lyric covers), Columbia also used the same Puccini LP cover in Europe, just not in the UK. http://www.ebay.com/itm/FCX-377-MARI...item3a994d32c4; and even a photo from the same series on a Columbia 45 of Puccini. http://www.ebay.com/itm/MARIA-CALLAS...item2ec58445b4
    Last edited by RES; Jan-19-2015 at 00:02.

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    I was having a conversation with a TC member, a certain 'iconic Violetta,' if one will, and I decided I wanted to share a part of it with my lovely Callas Peerage out there.

    It has to do with the relative sound quality of Warner remaster of the 1953 Santini Traviata versus the Pristine Audio XR remaster of the same performance:

    The XR Ambient remaster sounds better for the vocal sections. Why? Because it has an added 'ambience' to the re-engineering; that is to say: the vocals sound more 'three dimensional'-- like you're in a studio; and that you can hear Maria singing in front of you, but that you can 'hear' how far away from her you are as well; and that you can hear her voice reach the furthest reaches of the studio wall; and that the 'decay rate' (how a sound will naturally fade away in real life) is more pronounced than on the Warner.

    The Warner sounds great. But compared with the XR Remaster, the highest ends--orchestral but especially vocal-- have less timbral sheen, three-dimensional presence, and decay rate.

    So all things said, the Warner is fantastic in every way; but when it comes to quality, realistic-sounding vocals--- the XR Remaster upgrades the Warner from an 'A-' to a high 'A'. . .

    Pristine doesn't only do cd's-to-order, which is what I opted for. You can order the 24-bit FLAC downloadable files onto your computer-- which will sound even better than the audiophile cd I bought from them-- but the trouble with FLAC technology is that for all of the exquisite high ends that it has (but that my cd version does not) the added frequencies cannot be heard by the human ear--- as the Hertz range is too high for the cilia in the ear to resonate to the delicate sounds--- so unless you're a dog, you can't appreciate the gains.

    Anyway, you can get the FLAC or the cd. I got the cd because I wanted a permanent copy for my collection
    .

    And, as a final 'ancillary,' ancillary: Dark Angel shouldn't be the only one trumpeting the virtues of Callas' improved vocal timbres on the Pristine Audio XR remasters. ;D

    If one's a hard-core Callas fan, one simply must hear this.

    You deserve the best. . . pamper yourself.

    ;D
    Last edited by Marschallin Blair; Jan-22-2015 at 23:38.
    "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 Marschallin Blair View Post
    And, as a final 'ancillary,' ancillary: Dark Angel shouldn't be the only one trumpeting the virtues of Callas' improved vocal timbres on the Pristine Audio XR remasters. ;D

    If one's a hard-core Callas fan, one simply must hear this.

    You deserve the best. . . pamper yourself.

    ;D
    Not to everyone's taste. Certainly not to mine.They sound lovely in their way, but knowing that the space is no longer the one in which they were recorded, making them inauthentic to the desires and tastes of the engineers, putting them out of the running for me, like EMI's own re-channeled stereo of the 1970s. I have not heard the '53 Traviata. I heard Lucia, Cavalleria, and the 1949 Arias. In the first, I sorely missed that dry, in-your-face fat Callas sound; it seemed richer ensemble-wise but diffuse insofar as Callas is concerned: Callas loses weight. Actually, the Warner is not my yardstick; that didn't come out all that well. It would be the original vinyl LPs. On CD, I prefer the 1989 Hardwick master where she is luscious and singing to me in the room. With Cav, I was disappointed that, for all his interesting sonics, Rose didn't clean up the nasty overload distortion. And no, neither did Warner, while Pablo Berutti assures me that, yes, it can be done. The '49 Arias were insane. For some odd technical reason, Rose pitched them a big semitone sharp. No orchestra tuned to a=460; after all, wind instruments simply can't play up there. It also meant that 'Vien diletto' was now in A major rather than A-flat and Callas is heard singing a thunderous E-natural at the end--which she didn't possess at any time in her life; E-natural was always her squeaky, let's-get-off-it-fast, upper limit (e.g., Vespri, Bell Song, Armida--all pre-diet). So no, I'm not a fan of Mr Rose's ideas.
    Last edited by RES; Jan-23-2015 at 00:06.

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    Senior Member Marschallin Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RES View Post
    Not to everyone's taste. Certainly not to mine.They sound lovely in their way, but knowing that the space is no longer the one in which it was recorded, making it inauthentic to the desires and tastes of the engineers, puts it out of the running for me, like EMI's own re-channeled stereo of the 1970s. I have not heard the '53 Traviata. I heard Lucia, Cavalleria, and the 1949 Arias. In the first, I sorely missed that dry, in-your-face fat Callas sound; it seemed richer ensemble-wise but diffuse insofar as Callas is concerned: Callas loses weight. Actually, the Warner is not my yardstick; that didn't come out all that well. It would be the original vinyl LPs. On CD, I prefer the 1989 Hardwick master where she is luscious and singing to me in the room. With Cav, I was disappointed that, for all his interesting sonics, Rose didn't clean up the nasty overload distortion. And no, neither did Warner, Pablo Berutti assures me that, yes, it can be done. The '49 Arias were insane. For some odd technical reason, Rose pitched them a big semitone sharp. No orchestra tuned to a=460; after all, wind instruments simply can't play up there. It also meant that 'Vien diletto' was now in A major rather than A-flat and Callas is heard singing a thunderous E-natural at the end--which she didn't possess at any time in her life; E-natural was always her squeaky, let's get off it fast, limit (e.g., Vespri, Bell Song, Armida--all pre-diet. So no, I'm not a fan of Mr Rose's ideas.
    Well, the 'ambient engineering' may not have been in the original source material-- true enough; but truer still, to my ears, the Pristine Audio XR remaster doesn't sound in the least bit 'synthetic' either-- rather it sounds like a vast improvement as far as the sheen, definition, and decay rate of the vocals go.

    I haven't heard any of Divina's records (but of course I'd LOVE TO ;D)-- so nescience forbids me from commenting on that front.

    I'm just hoping that Adrew Rose decides to give a refurbishment to the Dallas, Florence, and Bernstein Medeas, as well as her '52 Armida! . . . . as well as any other Callas performance for that matter-- but those performances first!!!

    Last edited by Marschallin Blair; Jan-23-2015 at 00:16.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marschallin Blair View Post
    Well, the 'ambient engineering' may not have been in the original source material-- true enough; but truer still, to my ears, the Pristine Audio XR remaster doesn't sound in the least bit 'synthetic' either-- rather it sounds like a vast improvement as far as the sheen, definition, and decay rate of the vocals go.

    I haven't heard any of Divina's records (but of course I'd LOVE TO ;D)-- so nescience forbids me from commenting on that front.

    I'm just hoping that Andrew Rose decides to give a refurbishment to the Dallas, Florence, and Bernstein Medeas, as well as her '52 Armida! . . . . as well as any other Callas performance for that matter-- but those performances first!!!
    Well it's a matter of likes and dislikes. Some of the live ones could probably be processed in this way. Actually, some have, somewhat similarly: there are a few Berlin Lucias, Bolena bits, and a Scala Norma (on an old LP) that yielded very spacious results, but you lose some Callas intensity, consonants, precise vocal colors, and definition (as I found with the Pristines). Most live source material (like Armida and Florence Medea, which are too echoey already, Dallas Medea, which is harsh and distorted badly) are in just such bad shape that adding ambiance would exaggerate the problems or varnish over them as well as a lot of desirable things. Pablo is not interested in anything but the original sound from the best sources available, presented as purely as possible without any intervention.

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