Discover the quality of Callas' voice!
Armindo | Greece | 05/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forget what you know about the name Maria Callas. Forget the very ugly voice she had after the mid fifties and forget the stories surrounding her personal life, which indisputably helped her to gain the press's support and public's admiration. This record displays the sublime, true quality of this woman's voice and I am surprised that an ardent TEBALDI FAN is the first reviewer of the album. Noticeable from her first 50's recordings (like the live Macbeth) but even more obvious here, Callas' voice was strong, firm, ringing, agile and uniquely penetrating on the higher notes. It was the voice of a perfect dramatic soprano, able to tackle the bel canto roles as well. In that sense, its colour (which later became too ugly) was magnificent, ideal. The album begins with perhaps her most famous role, Norma. The Casta Diva heard here must be her best. No signs of wear or wobbliness. The high ringing notes amaze me every time I hear them. I especially admire Callas when she sings fast sections and the "bello a me ritorna" offers the ultimate excitement. HOWEVER, her Norma here pales in comparison to her Elvira that follows. When she sings the phrase "Qui la voce e sua soave, mi chiamava...e poi spari" everything stops. The feeling that she projects is unbelievably moving. I know just a few moments in the history of records, which can be compared to those few seconds. Again the cabaletta follows, which she ends with a long-lasting note able to break glass! Regarding the other experts, I've never been a Wagner fan or specialist but I can say that I like the Italian sound a lot and Callas' performance even more. I do, however, prefer her in the Verdi and Bel Canto repertoire.The sound cannot be compared to stereo but the remastering certainly helped a lot. Despite some tape hiss, the pleasure is not reduced and allows the listener to admire Callas' voice. The booklet includes a lot of information on Callas' early career (the author does sometimes get carried away and exaggerate but lets be fair, she deserves it). I quess I'll always be a Tebaldi fan but this set definitely increased my admiration for Maria Callas. Bravo!"
DIVINA! MOLTO STUPENDA!!!
The Cultural Observer | 09/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"All this time, I've been wondering as to why Joan Sutherland's coming to my country suddenly christened her as La Stupenda. In my opinion, if there is one person who can be called Stupenda, it is Maria Callas. No other soprano in history...no one...has achieved the kind of work she did with music during the middle of the 20th century. No one is as accomplished a musician, a technician, an artist, or a dramatist as she is, and by listening to this disk, we can see that she is indeed the greatest soprano the world has ever given us.
How and why would I say such a thing? Look at the repertoire she handled during the earlier part of her career. I have never seen a soprano who can do Isolde, Kundry, Norma, and Puritani...successfully! Add to that the successful Brunhilldes and the Aminas, Imogenes, Lucias, Leonoras, Cio-cio-sans, Toscas, Turandots, Aidas, Gildas, Euridices, Carmen, and all those other great heroines of the operatic repertoire, and I don't know why anyone would fail to acknowledge such a great voice. A perfect tone, it is not. It doesn't have the rounded, large tone of Sutherland or Nilsson or Norman. But it was molded for the purpose of expression. People say that Maria Callas never had a good voice. I think otherwise, as I thought she had the greatest voice of the century. Who else can express pain like she can? Who else can do coloratura and sing Wagner? You can count only so many sopranos who can do this, and in the end you can only mention a few...the most prominent of whom is this great Greek soprano who was considered one of the world's most influential women. Listen to this disc, and you will know why Callas was such a force to reckon with, and still is one today. Grazie mille Maria, per tutti."