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Maria Callas


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#1 Ed Waffle

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 04:01 AM

Born December 2, 1923

Died September 16, 1977

She embodied the idea of opera for many of us. She had (and still has) detractors many with very valid reasons for disliking her voice. But her musicality, depth of expression, unerring sense of legato and ability to inhabity a character were, for me, beyond reproach. She is the type of artist that Verdi would have written roles for--listening to her sing Violetta and Abagaille it seemed he did.

Works by Donizetti and Bellini are performed much more often now than they were fifty years ago due in significant part to her championing of them and insistance on real bel canto style in the otherwise post-Puccini verismo style of Italian opera houses.

May perpetual light shine upon her.

#2 Juliet

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 04:57 AM

New biography out on her by Anne Edwards--I liked it (unlike some other ones recently issued....)

#3 Watermill

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 08:03 AM

I am a big fan, too, Ed. She had the soul so lacking in others at her level. In her Tosca there is no space between the artist and the character. Beyond magnificent!

And I could weep when I think of what was lost because of her relationship with Onassis. What a strange wonderful/awful story.

#4 LMCtech

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 12:01 PM

A tragic yet glorious life. She seemed to live like the characters she sang. Her life would probably make a great opera. Or movie? That play was done (Master Class), but there were problems with it, and I thought the way it was set up (using musical thater singers, not opera singers) cheapened it to the opera audience.

#5 Old Fashioned

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 12:33 PM

Aawww, I don't know much about her life, but I have a few recordings of her on cds. She has a beautiful voice. I'll look into that biography.

#6 Ed Waffle

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 01:26 PM

I haven't read the Anne Edwards biography of Callas yet. I have a shelf of books about Callas, including most the biographies in English and have run into "event fatigue". There are only so many things that happened in her life and most of them are known and commented upon.

I will check out the Edwards book, though, since I haven't read a new one about Callas for a few years.

One work that has added significantly to what we know about Callas is The Unknown Callas: The Greek Years by Nicholas Petsalis-Diomidis. It is the story of her life in Greece before and during the German occupation in World War II.

Another is Callas by Callas, mainly for the letter collected during the beginning of her career in Italy and South America in the late 1940s.

#7 Estelle

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 01:30 PM

Originally posted by LMCtech
A tragic yet glorious life. She seemed to live like the characters she sang. Her life would probably make a great opera. Or movie?


Actually I've seen some posters for a movie about her, which will be released soon. According to imdb.com, it will be directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and will star Fanny Ardant (French actress, Francois Truffaut's widow) in the main role and Jeremy Irons as Larry Clark.

#8 dirac

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 02:30 PM

Well, she was an influence in ways good and bad (and I say this as a fanatical fan). She made certain vocal flaws –painful high notes, for example – acceptable in a way they'd never been before, which was okay for her because she had so much with which to compensate for them, but are even less agreeable in singers lacking her other gifts. (And even with Maria, some of those Bs and Cs are awfully hard to take.)


Onassis had little or nothing to do with Callas' departure from the stage, though he bears much responsibility for her sad end. She gradually ceased to sing because her voice was vanishing beneath her – disaster striking not merely the high notes, but throughout her range. I don't know where the seeds of her vocal decline lay – perhaps some flaw in her early training – but it was underway before she met him. If anything, her liaison with Onassis provided her with some much-needed cover. For the peak years of her career, she didn't live like a character from opera – soap opera took over as the artist's instrument failed her. Which is indeed tragic – just not in the way it's often been described.


I was also disappointed with "Master Class" -- McNally took the Vanity Fair approach, especially disappointing because he of all people should know better. I found the Stassinopoulos bio better than expected, surprise surprise.


Zeffirelli knew Callas well and was a great help to her in her last years on the stage, but I fear his approach will be over -romanticized. I think any movie would be, however, because of the demands of film narrative. Ardant is a great actress and should be worth watching, though.


Estelle, did Truffaut actually marry Ardant? I know they had a daughter, but don't recall them ever making it legal.

#9 Estelle

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 03:58 PM

Err, actually I'm not sure they really were married, perhaps they just lived together- I'm not exactly an expert about the marital status of Truffaut :rolleyes:


I think any movie would be, however, because of the demands of film narrative.


I think that, in general, it's very difficult to make a successful movie about such a great character...

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 04:13 PM

Originally posted by Estelle


I think that, in general, it's very difficult to make a successful movie about such a great character...


I agree -- I think it's the hardest thing in the world, especially with someone who has been seen by much of the film's potential audience. One could get away with doing a film of Fanny Elssler, or even Isadora, but most people won't be able to get passed the "she doesn't look like her" not to mention "she can't sing."

#11 Ed Waffle

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Posted 16 September 2002 - 06:41 PM

Here is what the imdb has on "Callas Forever"

http://us.imdb.com/Details?0274407

One difficulty may be that the Zefferelli of 2002 is a long way from the Zefferelli who worked closely with Callas at the La Scala and other Italian houses.

Fanny Ardant seems like and inspired choice.

R.I.P., Maria. :)

#12 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2002 - 09:51 AM

Yes, there are certain arias I just don't care to hear anyone else sing.

One thing that really strikes me as a waste. Her record company kept her busy recording the warhorses of the repertory -- Aida, Turandot, La Boheme, etc. – while largely neglecting her bel canto specialties. EMI could have recorded her in Donizetti's Three Queens, for example, to much profit, but I guess they thought her talents were better served in Rigoletto.


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