Maria Callas and the voice beyond words

The wind instruments have the vicious property that they emancipate themselves from the text, they are substitutes for the voice as the voice beyond words. No wonder that Dionysus has chosen the flute as his preferred instrument (cf. Pan’s pipes), while Apollo has decided on the lyre… not to mention the mythical connections of flute with Gorgon, and so on.
Mladan Dolar on Plato in “The Object Voice”
The image shows Maria Callas rehearsing Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in Dallas in 1959. The musical excerpt is from her 1953 EMI recording of Lucia.

The flute, of course, is all over the score of Lucia, particularly in the mad scene (where, in most modern performances, it takes the place of the glass harmonica). I recently learned from Wikipedia that the glass harmonica once was believed to cause madness in musicians and listeners. The plot thickens!

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