Maria Callas sings “Casta diva”

The video shows Maria Callas in the RAI studios of Rome on December 31, 1957, singing her signature aria, “Casta diva” from Bellini’s Norma.

This is roughly 48 hours before the so-called “Rome walkout” that effectively ended Callas’s career in Italy and probably contributed more than anything else to her premature withdrawal from the stage.

(Briefly, I am of the opinion that Callas grew increasingly unable to handle the nervous strain of appearing before a hostile press, and that her dismay at Meneghini’s real or perceived mismanagement of her career contributed in no small part to her leaving him for Aristotle Onassis. This is speculation, based on what evidence we have; and all of the people who could confirm or deny my conjectures are long dead. Yes, Callas was in vocal decline by the late 1950s, but her nervous exhaustion greatly amplified the problems with her voice. This post about Callas’s 1957 Ballo at La Scala allows you to read and hear more about why I believe this.)

Hear Maria Callas in other music by Bellini. (Some of the YouTube clips, alas, have been removed since I linked to them.)

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