Callas in Mozart

Maria Callas sang only one rôle by Mozart in the theatre: Kostanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. I posted earlier her remarkable performance of “Marten aller Arten” and her reflections on Mozartian style.

In 1963 and 1964, Callas recorded several Mozart arias for EMI, including Donna Elvira’s “Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata.” I am without my notes today, but to the best of my recollection, Callas essentially sight-read this particular aria and may have recorded it in a single take. Peter Andry alleges that Callas made the decision to record Mozart in a moment of pique, to show Walter Legge that she could sing his wife Elizabeth Schwarzkopf’s repertoire.

Whatever the back-story, Callas (at ago 40) was in fragile voice when she recorded this aria under Nicola Rescigno, though her rigorous musicianship is often in evidence.

Interesting to note: During her Greek years, Callas’s Mozart repertoire included Zerlina’s “Batti, batti” from Don Giovanni and the sublime “Et incarnatus est” from the Große Messe. She returned to “Mi tradì” at a private concert in Geneva in 1970. On that occasion, she reportedly wished to practice singing in front of an audience after some five years away from the stage. The few accounts I’ve read of this concert suggest that it was an unhappy undertaking.

Hear Maria Callas in other music by Mozart.

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