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Thread: I feel bad because I don't love Callas more

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Default I feel bad because I don't love Callas more

    Both musically and dramatically she is one of the great geniuses of opera, and her voice was so much better when she was fat and young than after the Audrey Hepburn looks took over. Still and yet, even considering the truly astonishing things she did with the voice before around 1952, I just don't listen to her much as her voice is just not pretty enough for me for a steady diet.and this tendency has grown as I've aged. I know the Callas devotees will consign me to the deepest pits of hell for this. Tell me your thinking. Occasionally I will trot her out and eveything else about her will wow me before th voice starts grating on me.
    Last edited by Seattleoperafan; Apr-15-2019 at 02:59.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Beauty over meaning. Gloss over substance. There is, of course, a certain irony about that in regards to Callas.

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    Where I struggle with Callas is the generally poor quality of most of her recordings. The 1952 recording of Armida may contain some fabulous singing, but the audio quality is so bad I just can't listen to it. This is the case with a lot of her recordings. The 1956 recording of Il Trovatore is better, but still hard to listen to due to the poor recording. The problem is that no matter how great a singer she was, the audio recording systems of her time were incredibly poor and didn't really capture the full effect of the sound in either a studio of a live setting.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aerobat View Post
    Where I struggle with Callas is the generally poor quality of most of her recordings. The 1952 recording of Armida may contain some fabulous singing, but the audio quality is so bad I just can't listen to it. This is the case with a lot of her recordings. The 1956 recording of Il Trovatore is better, but still hard to listen to due to the poor recording. The problem is that no matter how great a singer she was, the audio recording systems of her time were incredibly poor and didn't really capture the full effect of the sound in either a studio of a live setting.
    I used to feel the same about all pre-LP singers, but, after reading John Steane’s amazing book The Grand Tradition, an absolute must for all those interested in singing and the human voice, I learned to listen through the sound, as it were, and so much amazing artistry was revealed to me. I am so grateful to him for that.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    I used to feel the same about all pre-LP singers, but, after reading John Steane’s amazing book The Grand Tradition, an absolute must for all those interested in singing and the human voice, I learned to listen through the sound, as it were, and so much amazing artistry was revealed to me. I am so grateful to him for that.
    That's a terrific book. You've put me in the mood to re-read it again. I'm going to stop reading your posts Greg, between this and the Vocal recitals thread I've hardly time to catch my breath.
    Remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    For me, appreciation of Callas’s artistry has only grown with the years, and the singers I enjoy and listen to mostly are those with a superior level of artistry and musicianship. I like singing that is beautifully expressed rather than merely beautiful. Consequently, though I used to enjoy, say, Sutherland’s beauty of voice and fabulous coloratura technique, I hardly ever listen to her these days.
    "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 Barbebleu View Post
    That's a terrific book. You've put me in the mood to re-read it again. I'm going to stop reading your posts Greg, between this and the Vocal recitals thread I've hardly time to catch my breath.
    Hahaha! I’ve read it at least twice cover to cover, but find I refer to it often for his comments on individual singers.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregMitchell View Post
    For me, appreciation of Callas’s artistry has only grown with the years, and the singers I enjoy and listen to mostly are those with a superior level of artistry and musicianship. I like singing that is beautifully expressed rather than merely beautiful. Consequently, though I used to enjoy, say, Sutherland’s beauty of voice and fabulous coloratura technique, I hardly ever listen to her these days.
    I greatly admire your opinions. I can understand your point of view. I have gone through periods of being blown away with Callas... often for many years.But Sutherland, who some consider a boring singing machine, is as they say in sports " my home team".

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    I'm no expert on singing, but I can't think of a more perfect recording of a soprano part than Maria Callas's Rosina in "Barbieri di Siviglia". If I want to demonstrate the beauty of opera singing to a newbie, I'd play one of her numbers from this record. Ironically, I believe I've read that she never performed the part on stage, only recorded it in a studio exactly once.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    ^^^ Maria did perform the role of Rosina live with Gobbi during 56 season of La Scala.......




    Check the complete cast and dates at La Scala archives, 9 performance run with last few Rosina's sung by Vicky DLA.......

    http://www.teatroallascala.org/archi...bjecttype=base
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Apr-15-2019 at 19:51.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    The Callas voice was a voice of many colors, some of which strike me as exceedingly beautiful and some of which can be unpleasant. It was partly nature and partly art. Most voices exhibit a more consistent timbre, and so there are voices I dislike for their basic timbre and just don't care to listen to, and voices I find entirely enchanting no matter what they're singing. I always know what to expect from these voices. With Callas I don't always know what to expect, but I do always expect something interesting. Her ability to use what nature gave her and alter the timbre of her voice to express varied emotions and even to characterize entire roles is unequaled by any other singer I can think of. Callas demands that we listen with full attention to what she's doing, but also be prepared to forgive some less than pleasing moments along the way. "Art," she said, "is more than beauty."

    There's no obligation to enjoy any singer's voice, but even if we never find hers to be one that attracts us, the experience of Callas is a necessary part of any opera lover's - and any singer's, and perhaps even any musician's - education.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Apr-15-2019 at 16:57.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    ^^^ Maria did perform the role of Rosina live with Gobbi during 56 season of La Scala.......
    Thanks for clarifying. I know I read that she hadn't in a book about her so I am confused how I got this wrong, or perhaps the book I read had it wrong. Gobbi, of course, is the Figaro on the recording as well.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Why not just like them all? Of course, we have our favourites according to our taste but I can take in Callas, Sutherland and all the rest of the show. Great! Pick the ones that do the most for you. Then just sit back and enjoy without feeling guilty.

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    I prefer emotions to mere sounds, so I’m not where you are and hope I never get there

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    Don't worry you still have four days left of Lent to repent for this!

    I know you aren't as interested in post 1952 Callas, but what about going for some very late Callas and giving the 1969 Verdi arias a listen? The voice is no longer there, but Callas tries to convince us with artistry alone and although she recorded these arias before she finds new insights with a fresh interpretation necessitated by her lack of vocal security.

    Alternatively give the RAI recitals (in best sound on the Gala label) a spin!

    N.

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