Silent Callas

These clips show Maria Callas’s curtain calls during and after Tosca and Norma, c. 1965. I suspect that they may be removed from YouTube before long, so view them while you can.

Update: The owner of this material has advised me that he has no intention of removing it from YouTube.

The first clip is silent, while the second has audio added.

There is a wonderful book by Paul Fryer, The Opera Singer and the Silent Film, which explores how Caruso, Chaliapin, and other singers, oddly, helped to establish silent cinema as a popular medium.

The silence in the first clip of Callas is an accident. Yet how much silent footage of Callas has survived—along with, yes, dozens of audio recordings shorn of visuals, which constitute, as Jürgen Kesting puts it, a “theatre of the imagination.”

Of course, these clips show us Callas as “Callas”—in some twilight world of identity, somewhere between “Callas” the public figure, Maria the woman, and the characters she was portraying.

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