Callas in New York

The Italian Cultural Institute in New York has announced a Maria Callas exhibit, “A Woman, A Voice, A Myth.” The exhibit is scheduled to open on 2 December, Maria Callas’s birthday. Right now, eight days before 2 December, the ICI offers no information on the time or venue.

Quoting from the ICI’s website:

On exhibit shall be the original stage costumes, outfits, jewelry, photographs, and unpublished documents belonging to the unforgettable soprano Maria Callas. The exhibit will be accompanied by archival footage and music.

I will keep you posted as I learn more. I imagine that this is an iteration of one of the travelling exhibits that have been making the rounds in recent years. In some cases, as Nina Foresti has observed, costumes that seem to have little or nothing to do with ones that Callas actually wore have been exhibited as “Callas costumes” (select the link and keep scrolling down). I don’t know whether they will be part of this exhibit.


Callas in Meyerbeer

Today, 22 November, is the feast of Saint Cecilia, the patroness of music in several Christian churches. “Cecilia” was one of Maria Callas’s names. By one account, “Sophia Cecilia” were the names on her birth certificate, and “Maria Anna” or “Anna Maria” were added when she was baptized. In her childhood in New York, Callas was known mostly as “Mary.”

“Ombre légère” from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah, which Callas always sung in Italian, was part of her concert repertoire from 1949 to 1957. She often programmed it in conjunction with dramatic arias, to showcase her versatility. It’s silly music, but Callas sings it with her customary fierce exactitude, and its intricacy and sparkle somehow seem appropriate for a feast day. This version is from Callas’s 1954 Lyric and Coloratura Arias recital for EMI. Tullio Serafin leads the Philharmonia Orchestra.


Callas in Ballo III

At Verdi Duecento, I posted some very interesting comments by Gabriele Baldini about Un ballo in maschera.

My thoughts naturally turned to Maria Callas, and I decided to revisit one of her “late” (post-Meneghini) recordings: Amelia’s Act III aria, “Morrò, ma prima in grazia,” from Ballo. Nicola Rescigno conducts, and the recording was made in April 1964.

I have two thoughts about this recording. First, if it is true, as some claim, that a “secret son” of Callas and Onassis died only three years before, then recording this aria must have been extremely trying for Callas.
I shall die, but first grant me the grace of pressing my only son to my breast. And if you deny this last favor to your wife, do not deny it to the pleas of my maternal heart. I shall die, but let his kisses console (the torment) inside me, now that the last of my fleeting hours has come. His hand will reach out over the eyes of his mother, killed by his father, whom he shall never see again!
Second, Callas is in splendid voice. Her tone is drenched in sadness, and her phrasing, while eloquent, seems so natural and inevitable.

I do have my doubts about the very last sovracuto. (Does anyone else find that it sounds spliced in?).

Still, what a pity that Callas would withdraw from the stage about a year later, and that her pride would not allow her to go on singing if she was no longer mistress of Norma, the most cruelly taxing of rôles.

I’m not dead yet!

Dear friends, I am sorry that it has been so quiet around here! I have been busy readying the launch of Verdi Duecento. My intent is for Verdi Duecento be the English-language online hub for Verdi’s two-hundredth birthday, which is coming up in 2013.

(Please visit the site, and let me know what you think! I worked so hard on adapting the code and the design that I made myself a zombie. That said, I think that Re-visioning Callas will migrate to WordPress later this year.)

I will be back later today with a post about Maria Callas! Thank you for your patience!