Callas in Gianni Schicchi

Maria Callas’s 1954 recording of Lauretta’s aria from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, part of her Puccini Heroines recital under Tullio Serafin, is a marvel. She never sang the rôle of Lauretta on stage. While Schicchi’s daughter has the opera’s hit tune, the baritone is the star of this intricate ensemble piece. It is hard to imagine Callas, who sang Santuzza in her teens and Fidelio at twenty-one, settling for such a small and relatively undemanding part.

There are several videos of Callas singing “O mio babbino caro” from her farewell tour. Her tone is raw and hollow, and her expression conveys barely suppressed desperation. The clips give no pleasure at all.

This 1965 version, recorded some six weeks before her farewell to the operatic stage, finds her in luminous form. Her use of portamento in the final phrases is pure enchantment, and something in her graceful, gentle way with the music surrounds the aria with the fragrance and glow of spring.

Watch her eyes, and see if any Schicchi could resist such a Lauretta.

No comments:

Post a Comment