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Bellini: I Puritani / Callas, di Stefano, Rossi-Lemeni, Panerai; Serafin
Vincenzo Bellini, Orchestra e coro del Teatro alla Scala, Tullio Serafin
Bellini: I Puritani / Callas, di Stefano, Rossi-Lemeni, Panerai; Serafin
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #2

This dates from near the beginning of Maria Callas's recording career. It was for many fans their first encounter with her, and it contains some of the most beautiful singing she ever did before a recording microphone. Set...  more »

      
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Amazon.com essential recording
This dates from near the beginning of Maria Callas's recording career. It was for many fans their first encounter with her, and it contains some of the most beautiful singing she ever did before a recording microphone. Set in 17th-century England, during the struggle between the Puritan supporters of Oliver Cromwell and the Cavalier royalists who supported the Stuart dynasty, this opera focuses on the problems of Elvira, a young Puritan woman in love with Arturo, a member of the Cavalier faction. Complications arise, Elvira believes she has been betrayed by Arturo, and she loses her mind. Her mad scene (a kind of music for which Callas developed a formidable technique) is the opera's musical and dramatic climax, but by no means the only reason for getting to know it. While the role of Elvira towers over the others, ensemble singing is a strong part of I Puritani's appeal. Callas's voice was in its top form for this recording, and her superb acting skills convey many subtle shades of anguish. She dominates the performance, but her supporting cast is better than those she usually got before becoming a major international star, and they work well together. --Joe McLellan
 

CD Reviews

CALLAS SHINES IN THIS "PURITANI" RECORDING
10/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am getting really sick of reading those appalling remarks about the voice of Callas. I'm a voice student, and even though I can easily find fault with some of Callas' voice production methods, I find her art so compelling and so musically "right" that I can easily dismiss the rest. Callas may not have had a "beautiful" voice in the usual sense of the word, but she had something much better ------ complete command and authority grafted onto a voice that was expressive, moving, and thrillingly intense. I would give half my life to have the gift she had, and her performance on this "Puritani" recording only makes me more convinced of her greatness.She was, at the time of this recording, a dramatic soprano with the ability to sing florid music, and this was no mean feat. I have read that Callas during her lifetime told an interviewer: "There are those who love my voice and those who don't and think that I'm a great big lie. That is their opinion and their right. They don't have to bother with me, since I myself don't bother with those I don't like". I couldn't say it better myself. If you don't like Callas, don't listen. You probably don't know what you're hearing anyway!"
ONE TO TREASURE
MOVIE MAVEN | New York, NY USA | 03/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am not a huge fan of Maria Callas; that is, I appreciate her voice in her best recordings and always appreciate her dramatic artistry. But I am not one of those fans who find nothing wrong with the screeching and sour notes--the scooping and absolutely ugly sounds which certainly do appear in many recordings. The fans who give Callas their endless, non-judgemental love find excuses everywhere for these "mistakes." Frankly, in this kind of bel canto music, I'd rather hear a great voice teamed along with great artistry...and in a pinch, a little less of the artistry and more of the gorgeous singing. This recording of Bellini's I PURITANI supplies the voice and artistry in great amounts. Absolutely no excuses need be made here for the leading lady, her co-stars and supporting cast, the orchestra or its conductor.Callas was obviously in terrific voice during this recording of Bellini's second most popular opera, which I find in every way, superior to his NORMA. Both stories are rather silly, but in I PURITANI we only have to smirk while the leading lady goes through two mad scenes rather than try to put away our dramatic disbelief during the story of a Druid priestess and her infidelity and ultimate self-immolation. (Although, I'll admit that if it's NORMA you wish to hear, there is no better way to hear it than with Callas and conductor Tullio Serafin.) I PURITANI's gorgeous melodies, the dramatic arc of the story, and the way the story is told in libretto and score in a compact form are all first rate. For me, this is not one of those operas that goes on endlessly repeating what has been sung before. I PURITANI deserves a much wider audience.Serafin is the conductor here as he is on many of Callas's recordings, among them her unforgettable, unbeatable TOSCA along with tenor Giuseppe di Stefano who is brilliant in both operas.The sound on this 1953 recording from La Scala, Milan is rich and bright. The set of 2 CD's is one to treasure. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED"
One of the greatest opera recordings of all time.
08/08/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This recording was rated in Opera News of August 1977 as one of the 20 milestone recordings in the first half century of recorded opera history (1908~1958). The cast of Callas, Di Stefano, Panerai, and Rossi-Lemeni is superb and all in their prime. Callas is in a class by herself, Di Stefano sings with robust passion, and Tulio Serafin conducts magnificently. This is a performance that is well worth purchasing, it is a piece of opera history."