Just the best of the best.
Liu Ming | France | 02/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From all the compilations of Maria Callas EMI has issued this is BY FAR the best one.
Unlike her studio recitals, unequal and mostly recorded when her voice was starting to decay, this live records take you back to the glorious early fifties when the young Callas was changing the history of opera forever.
The first 6 CD's are scenes from stage performances and the last 2 from recitals.
Chronollogically, this compilation starts with the legendary (and controversial) 1951 Mexico-City "Aida" and ends with the 1964 Covent Garden "Tosca" (when Callas' voice was just the shade of itself but at the peak of her dramatic skills).
Listen to the electrifying poetry of the 1952 "La sonnambula", to the devorating flame of 1955 "La traviata" and "Lucia". Not to forget the 1952 "Norma", the 1957 "Ana Bolena" and some rarities like "Andrea Chénier", "Ifigenia in Tauride" and "Poliuto".
The only great absent of this collection is "Armida"...
As for the the 2 recital CD's, the first one contains arias from concerts between 1952 and 1958, when Callas was in full command of her voice. Nobody else was capable of singing arias from Nabucco and Lakmé on the same recital! And listen to the last aria: Wagner's Isolde's dead.
The second one, contains arias from 1959 to 1963. Here, Callas voice had diminished considerably and she was not anymore capable of the same technical miracles, but she still managed to give thrilling dramatical interpretations (listen to the dead scene of Madama Butterfly of the 1963 Paris recital!!!)
In 80% of this compilation you can hear the young Callas creating her own legend, giving herself completly on the stage."
William C. Norvell, Jr. | Houston, Texas | 09/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1958, when I first started to appreciate opera at just age 14+, I was in Dallas for a family visit. Callas was singing with the Dallas Civic Opera and stayed at the Adolphus Hotel. With gumption that only a youth can have, I went to her hotel room and sought her autograph. She was not there but her maid asured me that I would get the autograph, and on a photo no less, to be left at the front desk. I did get the autograph, but just never really came to fully appreciate the Callas voice. Yes, I have a number of her recordings, but still..... others were my favorites.Having collected over 1,000 different operas on recordings and some of them on dozens of LPs, tapes and CDs, I believe I have become an authority, but still learning and hearing, on recorded classical music. Now, some 50 years later, I have come to the realization that not only was she a great soprano, she was the greatest singer ever. What she could do with that instrument is simply amazing. My reversal of opinion has come after listening to this wonderful set of public performances. Callas could sing anything, and make it the best. If you need persuasion, just listen to her Italian performance of Wagner's Libestod from Tristan ! Callas singing Wagner? You bet, and just the way, I believe, that the Master wanted us to hear it. This is a set that I will prize forever and is hands down the very best compilation of samples of her art ever recorded. We are indeed blessed to have this collection of her art, just as we are to have the blessing of her recorded singing and acting to appreciate for generations and generations. We would be fortunate to have another come our way some day, but don't count on it. Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves the art of singing."