Callas in Bellini’s La sonnambula

This clip of the final scene from Bellini’s La sonnambula is valuable for several reasons—because it features lovely, evocative stills, including lesser-known ones, from Luchino Visconti’s incomparable production of the opera; because it captures Maria Callas in magical form; and because it gives some sense of what her voice sounded like in the theatre, with “air” around it. (Her EMI recordings were close-miked and most unflattering.)

And, yes indeed, she makes a diminuendo on a high E-flat. I believe that this, and the performance as a whole, are what Ethan Mordden would call “demented.”

Rumors persist that video of a complete Cologne Sonnambula survives, surely the saint graal of pirates. Let us pray that it comes to light!

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