Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Luminous live recordings of Maria Callas
Judy K. Polhemus | LA | 03/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My CD cover calls this recording "Maria Callas Live! Famous Italian Concert Recordings" but "Live [Live]" is how it is listed on Amazon. A hand-sketched likeness of her expressive face appears on the front, along with a listing of operas from which these selections are taken: Semiramide, La Gioconda, Macbeth, Norma, Nabucco, La Traviata, and Lucia De Lammermoor, a total of 54:30 of unparalleled Maria until you go to the next CD.
A dramatic singer by inclination, Maria performed live with much more fervor than her tamer studio recordings. An enthusiastic audience stimulated her performances. She sang from age 23 until 41 when her voice and personal life were in decline, thus recording studios clamored to acquire her live performances for posterity.
This particular CD with its particular selections demonstrates why Maria was so great: she interpreted roles and "resurrected long-neglected works of bel canto repertoire" (liner notes).
Track 1: Rossini: Semiramide, "Bel raggio lusinghier"--Not my favorite. I actually cringed from time to time when she hit those high notes.
Track 2: Ponchielli: La Gioconda, "Suicidio,"--One of my favorites. An impassioned aria about loving one man and saving him by promising herself to another, then choosing suicide to get out of it. Set in the time of the Inquisition. Sings deep notes. Music reminds me of sections of Don Giovanni by Mozart. Not an annoying note!
Track 3: Verdi: Macbeth, "Vieni! t'affretta!"--a shrieking song worthy of Lady Macbeth's cold-blooded plans to call Macbeth home to encourage him to be as vicious as necessary to achieve their plans.
Track 4: Bellini: Norma, "Casta Diva...Ah, bello a me ritorna"--A Druidic high priestess in love with the Roman Proconsul sings for peace to save him from being he first to die in a rebellion. Loud bellowing notes, followed by pleasing ones.
Track 5: Verdi: Nabucco, "Ben io t'invenni"--Set in Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (Nabucco), Abigaile is believed to be his daughter, but is really a slave in love with a Jewish prince. Remember the song Minnie Driver sings then the young girl sings in Phantom of the Opera. That's what this singing reminds me of. Not my favorite.
Track 6: Verdi: La Traviata, "Addio del passato"--A magnificent aria! Violetta is dying and sings this alone, knowing that Alfredo cannot reach her in time. Maria wraps her voice around this intense sadness and becomes Violetta!
Track 7: Donizetti: Lucia De Lammermoor, "Il dolce suono...Ardon gli incensi"--Lucia's mad scene after she kills Arturo and imagines marrying Edgardo. Haunting melody, powerfully delivered, very reflective of madness. Softer melody with longer notes. Absolutely astonishing in her beauty of deliverance!
When I play this CD, I have to skip songs sometimes; other times I play it through. Depends. Overall, this CD is worth having for its historical and musical significance."