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Why was Maria Callas so great?

Not good looking, not erudite?? Coarse? I always thought she was like a pig in lipstick. Her voice - okay - but does it stand up today? I can see how Onassis could have been guiled by her, because she was very Mediterranian, so same tribe? But why did she hold so much sway? I don't get it. I love opera, but her voice never did it for me.

by Anonymousreply 134July 22, 2021 2:01 PM

If her voice doesn't do it for you it doesn't do it for you. It's a matter of taste. I dislike Bartoli but people adore her. Nobody is going to convince you. It's a decision you make for yourself.

by Anonymousreply 1July 19, 2021 4:19 AM

One of the greatest (perhaps the single greatest?) actresses in the history of opera, who really got inside the heads of her characters and fleshed them out. Keep in mind that opera is famous for its great singers but not for its great actors: some of the great sopranos of Callas's day had extraordinary voices but mostly just paraded around the stage, letting the beauty of their tone speak for them. And Callas had absolutely marvelous vocal technique, and was pretty thrillingly reckless in how she pushed her voice's boundaries (which indeed ultimately wrecked her voice so she had to retire relatively young). Plus she was so famous for her glamour and her mystique, and the company she kept: she was of course Ari Onassis's mistress both when he was married to Tina Livarnos and then when he was seeing Jackie .

That being said, her tone was far from sweet or beautiful--to many people, myself included, it is often quite harsh and flawed. This actually made many of her fans love her all the more since she made so much with what she had. But I have to say, I often prefer listening to other great sopranos of her era who genuinely had beautiful voices over Callas. I'm sure it woud have been different had I seen her on stage at her peak, but she had retired from the stage before I was even born.

I'm pointedly not naming names, because nothing is more tedious, annoying, and/or ultimately fruitless than a bunch of opera queens comparing favorite divas.

by Anonymousreply 2July 19, 2021 4:31 AM

and she never had her picture on bubble gum cards. How can you say someone is so great if they have never been on bubble gum cards.

by Anonymousreply 3July 19, 2021 4:31 AM

r3: Marry me

by Anonymousreply 4July 19, 2021 4:40 AM

p.s.--one more thing that made Callas was so extraordinary was her insistence of reviving operas from the bel canto tradition of the early 19th century by Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini and others so she could sing the leading parts.. Several of those operas (which are quite challenging) had all but disappeared from the repertoire by mid-century, and callas insisted on having them revived so she wasn't just singing Verdi all the time.

And finally, she had enormous range. Most sopranos stay within the same [italic]Fach[/italic], singing coloratura, dramatic, lyric, or spinto parts and mostly sticking to that. Callas did all of those, and even successfully sang Carmen, which is really a mezzo's role.

by Anonymousreply 5July 19, 2021 4:45 AM

She loved to get fucked up that big fat Greek ass.

by Anonymousreply 6July 19, 2021 4:47 AM

R2 didn't quite go there, but in anticipation of others who might (since God knows countless already have) -- I must say that I take strong exception to the canard that Callas invented great operatic acting and/or that she was even close to unique in that regard. I doubt very much that those who watched performances by Giuditta Pasta or Mary Garden or Frida Leider (to name 3 pre-Callas examples) or Astrid Varnay (to name 1 contemporary) found them undramatic.

Frankly, I'm not so convinced that Callas WAS a great actress in physical/visual terms. (The much-praised TOSCA Act 2 video is fun but pretty hammy.) To me her greatness rests with her exceptional musicianship and her ability to convey the drama through vocal/musical means.

R5 (a.k.a. R2), I agree that her advocacy for a lot of neglected rep and her remarkable range are key elements of her great reputation. I wish she'd used her passion and influence to perform fuller editions of the bel canto scores -- and to get Walter Legge/EMI to record her in more of the rep in which she was most special. (I'd gladly lose her studio recordings of things like LA BOHÈME, CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, MANON LESCAUT and PAGLIACCI -- only 1 of which she ever sang onstage, and that only in her student days -- in order to have commercial documents of her ANNA BOLENA, ARMIDA, MACBETH and IL PIRATA. But Legge was presumably more concerned with matching things Decca had recorded or would soon record with Renata Tebaldi.)


by Anonymousreply 7July 19, 2021 4:54 AM

OP? Why did you write your thread opener like that? In up speak? With so many questions marks? OK, on Datalounge? American? Who types like this? I can only read it like this? OK, it's a stupid question?

by Anonymousreply 8July 19, 2021 5:04 AM

[quote][R2] didn't quite go there, but in anticipation of others who might (since God knows countless already have) -- I must say that I take strong exception to the canard that Callas invented great operatic acting

No, I indeed did not go there, nor would I have. There were even other great actresses on the opera stage during Callas's own lifetime, like Shirley Verrett.

But Callas was famous for her acting nonetheless, and she was widely considered revelatory for it.

by Anonymousreply 9July 19, 2021 5:05 AM

Great singers are desirable.

by Anonymousreply 10July 19, 2021 5:12 AM

Callas would have been ridiculous and unbelievable as Elektra. She did not have much range as an actress.

by Anonymousreply 11July 19, 2021 5:15 AM

I'll say one word. Diva. Star. Artist. Ok that was three.

by Anonymousreply 12July 19, 2021 5:20 AM

OP = Lucy Van Pelt.

by Anonymousreply 13July 19, 2021 5:25 AM

we did that already r13 see r3

by Anonymousreply 14July 19, 2021 5:28 AM

Charisma. She had that magnetism, that intense sort of charisma that you could hear in her voice, even on recordings. That charisma reached across the footlights, through recording microphones, in photos, on film, in any type of media she appeared in, never mind in person. If she was in the room, no matter how small or big, you could not look away from her. If her picture was in a magazine or newspaper, you were going to pick it up and read it, probably buy it.

You can't quantify it or explain it, but in the end it comes down to charisma.

by Anonymousreply 15July 19, 2021 5:30 AM

This thread is soooo DL. Informative, but outside of general knowledge.

Carry on.

by Anonymousreply 16July 19, 2021 5:32 AM

There was a documentary about Callas a few years back that had a bit where they asked a group of gays the same question OP is asking. I’ll try to find the documentary, or better, that clip.

by Anonymousreply 17July 19, 2021 5:41 AM

Or try to imagine Callas singing the title role in Jenufa.

by Anonymousreply 18July 19, 2021 5:47 AM

R18, Callas was surely one of nature's Kostelničkas. If Magda Olivero could do it (in Italian!), so could she.

by Anonymousreply 19July 19, 2021 5:50 AM

R3 Nice one, Lucy. :-)

by Anonymousreply 20July 19, 2021 5:52 AM

R20 No...Sally, I think.

by Anonymousreply 21July 19, 2021 5:53 AM

Callas has major stage presence and considered (for the time) to be the best actress in opera. In terms of voice though, Joan Sutherland was actually the greatest soprano of the 20th century.

by Anonymousreply 22July 19, 2021 6:28 AM

She did the Marilyn Monroe thing well, switching her own persona on and off as if it were an electronic appliance. Footage showing her about to enter a crowd is interesting, she pauses a half second then it's as if she's stepped onto a stage and into the spotlight.

by Anonymousreply 23July 19, 2021 9:34 AM

Callas was a Master!

by Anonymousreply 24July 19, 2021 10:59 AM

I love Joan R22, but, no.

by Anonymousreply 25July 19, 2021 11:24 AM

I don’t think anyone was saying that Callas was the first great singing actress, but that she brought theatrical intensity to roles that didn’t generally get it, like Lucia. She also had a voice that was instantly recognizable in two or three notes, which is more common among pop singers than opera singers.

by Anonymousreply 26July 19, 2021 11:46 AM

Callas had a few things going for her that worked very specifically for the newly born media age. She knew how to work the press. Hard. She used it to her advantage unlike any of her colleagues in opera, and that included against intendants and other famous singers. She knew how to manipulate the camera brilliantly, something that opera singers simply do not have. It was one of her major talents and it absolutely sustained her well past her sell by date. Of course, it came back to bite her quite violently and it cost her dearly. The weight loss and subsequent transformation into (something) of a fashion swan was brilliant and added to the mystique and legend. No, she was not really attractive, but she convinced people through the camera that she was. She was almost entirely a modern American media creation, no matter her European pretensions. Only an American could create the weird kind of mid-lantic fiction she did and get away with it. She used Hollywood techniques to create a persona and it worked.

The other thing she had quite early on was a ferocious musicality and vocal technique that worked very specifically FOR HER, and that gave her a distinct sound (though not really beautiful) both live and on recording. When she was young she was able to take huge vocal risks that made her famous, like capping the procession in Aida with a huge e flat and drowning out the rest of the singers and orchestra. This electrified the cognoscenti and spread her name around the world and bled into common knowledge since the power of the recording industry at the time made over a semi popular art form. The quality and beauty of the sound will always be debated. Her actual vocal ability lasted for about a decade. After that she got distracted by many other things and it took a toll on her voice and technique. For me, I think she could create an occasionally good sound, but she’s close to unparalleled in musicality, that again, worked specifically FOR HER. Those who try to copy it inevitably fail. She made italianate phrasing sound completely natural, despite the fact she was a Greek American from Washington Heights. I agree heartily with R7. Her recordings could have leaned much more heavily toward her specialty, because unlike what you’ve heard, she definitely could NOT sing everything.

The final thing that has kept her alive in the popular imagination is what was mentioned above, a Marilyn Monroe/James Dean thing. She died mysteriously and early under tragic circumstances in exile in Paris. It adds to the mystique and weirdness and there will always be questions about “what if?” But by that time, there really was no voice left and she had spent herself entirely on her legend and her youth, almost like a deal with the devil. It worked. We’re still talking about her.

by Anonymousreply 27July 19, 2021 11:51 AM

A good friend who knows a lot more about opera than I do was taken aback when I told him Callas was born in NYC.

by Anonymousreply 28July 19, 2021 11:54 AM

We can't imagine the effect her voice and singing had on contemporary audiences. I think her voice early on was very well produced, which audiences at the time could recognise. They had heard Muzio and Lehmann and Ponselle and Flagstad and Traubel and Milanov and knew what good dark voiced singing was, and early on she was good. Plus she had flexibility with her strong dark voice. Her amazing technique did falter, but it's very hard to sing that well forever. It takes muscle and control which means lots of practice, and I think she became distracted which lead to her decline. Callas had in addition to great singing ability good dramatic instincts in her interpretations. She was very committed in performance and sang with a lot of soul. I think, having seen film of a young Tebaldi and other truly great singers of this age, there did seem to be a stand and deliver attitude, and the singing came first with the acting a distant second. Callas didn't seem to have to think about acting as to her it was there in the music and therefore had to be there in the singing, so this must have seemed exciting and novel. I also think that the recording equipment of the time of her early career could capture her voice close to how it sounded in the theater, so if a recording was how you were first introduced to her then experiencing her in performance did not disappoint. I do think she got credit for things she might have copied from earlier singers. I found a recording of Caniglia in Tosca from the 1930s and I was surprised at how it seemed a template for Callas' later interpretation. I see r27 has covered much of the same territory, but I hope my less focused effort helps answer OP's question.

by Anonymousreply 29July 19, 2021 11:56 AM

And that absolutely speaks to the American myth making she engaged in R28. Her legend was almost entirely self created. She was basically the daughter of a pharmacist on the far Upper West Side. Washington Heights was filled Greeks and other Euro immigrants in the early twentieth century. It was not the current demographic which is mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican. She was born in Manhattan in 1923 and I think they moved from Astoria to Upper Manhattan after a couple of years. She was a native born New Yorker and American.

by Anonymousreply 30July 19, 2021 12:09 PM

OP = Jackie On Assistance

by Anonymousreply 31July 19, 2021 12:11 PM

[quote] I also think that the recording equipment of the time of her early career could capture her voice close to how it sounded in the theater, so if a recording was how you were first introduced to her then experiencing her in performance did not disappoint.

Yes, this. Absolutely.

by Anonymousreply 32July 19, 2021 12:11 PM


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by Anonymousreply 33July 19, 2021 12:26 PM

Make me cry, gurl.

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by Anonymousreply 34July 19, 2021 12:34 PM

Her prime was fairly short and most of her studio recordings were quite late. You can get a sense of her impact from earlier live recordings, though these often have poor supporting casts and indifferent to bad sound. Also, they don't sound much like 'Callas', the voice one got used to through her recordings, with its dark, hooded tone and register breaks that I never found attractive.

by Anonymousreply 35July 19, 2021 12:49 PM

R7, I really wasn’t expecting someone to mention Astrid Varnay, but I’m glad you did. I agree that she was at the level of Callas in terms of dramatic presence and voice acting, obviously in a totally different repertoire.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Callas. Like others, I find her tone a bit grating. However I recently listened to one of her famous recordings (Norma with Christa Ludwig) and I was astounded by her dramatic abilities. I will always prefer Caballe in the role for the sheer beauty of the voice, but Callas was absolutely mesmerising.

by Anonymousreply 36July 19, 2021 12:56 PM

The movie she made with Pasolini, MEDEA (69) is out of this world. It's also incomprehensible as narrative, but the "look" of it is fantastic.

by Anonymousreply 37July 19, 2021 12:58 PM

OP is a cunt who starts with appearances and then shows no understanding of the Callas gifts, mystique and self-lacerating gifts, in which each production tore a little more of her voice to shreds while sometimes - often - achieving performances of power and impact.

I'm not a big fan, but I certainly respect her.

by Anonymousreply 38July 19, 2021 1:06 PM

I know very little about opera, only having seen a couple of performances. I think Callas definitely had a distinct voice that even I can recognize with just a couple of notes.

by Anonymousreply 39July 19, 2021 1:22 PM

R3 for the win.

OP Philistine moron.

by Anonymousreply 40July 19, 2021 1:38 PM

Onassis was beguiled by Maria Callas not only because she was very Mediterranean, OP, but because she would do anal, which Onassis loved a lot. Jackie O declined to spread her cheeks for him.

According to Leo Lerman's diary, Maria Callas said that it "hurt and was boring."

by Anonymousreply 41July 19, 2021 1:47 PM

Greeks are just Jews without money.

by Anonymousreply 42July 19, 2021 2:27 PM

[quote] OP is a cunt who starts with appearances and then shows no understanding of the Callas gifts, mystique and self-lacerating gifts, in which each production tore a little more of her voice to shreds while sometimes - often - achieving performances of power and impact.

Dial it down, Nathan Lane in "The Lisbon Traviata."

by Anonymousreply 43July 19, 2021 4:12 PM

I have no favorite singer though perhaps the one who has most moved me is Claudia Muzio. Still I enjoy Callas immensely.

If you see her in some old videos where she is being hounded by the American press when she arrives at Kennedy(maybe Idlewild) or being interview in her dressing room after she was fired from the Met she gets so angry the elegant European Diva disappears and she turns into an angry squawking New Yorker. It's pretty amusing.

by Anonymousreply 44July 19, 2021 4:26 PM

Callas was amazing but she had a relatively short career and even her late 30s her voice was fading (the wobble in her voice is very apparent). This was partly to do with her weight loss and partly to do with the fact that by forcing her upper register she may have damaged her voice.

R22 & R25 Joan Sutherland had better technique than Callas (though her pronunciation was dreadful). I also think Joan's upper register was far superior to Callas'. Joan's top Ds and Ebs are the stuff of legend. But Callas was a far superior performer to Joan.

by Anonymousreply 45July 19, 2021 5:24 PM

The things cited as being her limitations are the very things which make her great. Like any famous voice from popular music, the opera world knew it was Callas singing within the first few words she sang. A unique original. The voice was electrifying!

by Anonymousreply 46July 19, 2021 10:53 PM

I wonder if Joan Sutherland or Birgit Nilsson did anal.

by Anonymousreply 47July 19, 2021 10:57 PM

It wasn’t just her singing or acting that has made her a legend. It is also her tragic life. Never good enough and eternally flawed. Her palpable vulnerability and imperfections make her great.

by Anonymousreply 48July 19, 2021 10:57 PM

I like that in her Time cover story(I think that's where she said it) that if her mother couldn't get a job and support herself she should throw herself out of a window. And she meant it. Maria was not warm and fuzzy.

by Anonymousreply 49July 19, 2021 11:13 PM

R30, Callas wasn't as American as you're trying to make out. Her family migrated to the US when her mother was still pregnant with her and moved back when she was 12 or 13. Her childhood years in New York were spent in a very Greek immigrant environment and it's unlikely she was analysing the strategies of Hollywood myth-making.

What I think is more interesting is that she received her musical education in Greece, a country with very little of an opera tradition. The myth of Callas is also the product of her too early death.

by Anonymousreply 50July 19, 2021 11:16 PM

Mike Nichols claimed that in private she sounded like she was from Brooklyn.

by Anonymousreply 51July 19, 2021 11:55 PM

Callas speaking in Greek. She has a slight accent, but she's also using the weird Greek speaking style of the 1950s. It seems like a minor scandal broke out when she had to cancel a performance in Greece because of a cold? I don't know the context.

Arianna Huffington - who has a heavy Greek accent - actually has trouble speaking in Greek today.

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by Anonymousreply 52July 20, 2021 12:47 AM

I believe every role she sang has become the "standard" and every other singer pales in comparison. I wished she would have ventured to sing Strauss's "Elektra" but Inge Borkh is pretty much my standard for that role. Listen to Callas as Norma, Lady MacBeth, never tire of listening to the drama, the words, her voice. Just think after all these years she is still discussed.

by Anonymousreply 53July 20, 2021 1:15 AM

R47 No but Joan's husband likely did.

by Anonymousreply 54July 20, 2021 1:19 AM

The most scandalous event in all of opera history is Callas cancelling Norma after the first act in Rome with the Italian president and all the highest Italian society in the audience. She never lived it down. It is available to listen to and she's not bad. It sounds like she could have continued and given a respectable performance and gotten away with the evening. But only she knew if the rest of the performance was in her voice and she felt it wasn't.

Of course the second most scandalous event also involves her. This was when Bing fired her from the Met. Poor Maria couldn't help but cause scandals. For some reason they followed her everywhere. She was a very confused person on a global scale.

by Anonymousreply 55July 20, 2021 1:27 AM

I love Norma and Callas in it and have watched on youtube many times.

by Anonymousreply 56July 20, 2021 1:30 AM

But I always understood her name to be "Maria Callous" (???).

by Anonymousreply 57July 20, 2021 1:33 AM

I thought it was Maria Plantar-Wart?

by Anonymousreply 58July 20, 2021 2:24 AM

This thread is fascinating and the reason why I wade in the sewer of this back water shit hole website

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by Anonymousreply 59July 20, 2021 2:59 AM

Maria Callas was the greatest ever.

by Anonymousreply 60July 20, 2021 3:03 AM

Maria Callas was so hilarious when she spoke up to the press, which is one of the reasons gay men loved her so much She played the diva role to the hilt.

-(when asked by Sir Thomas Beecham on television if the rumors were true she had thrown a bottle of brandy at the director of La Scala): "But I never threw anything at anyone! UNFORTUNATELY! I wish I did! It would be a shame for the bottle you know, really!"

-"Only my dogs will not betray me."

by Anonymousreply 61July 20, 2021 3:31 AM

I rarely go to Callas recordings because I dislike the metallic sound of her voice. I’m sure it would Have been different had I seen her live. I adore great actresses on the operatic stage so I would have understood her better.

That said, she is foremost a phenomenal musician. She sang the widest range of roles, and almost each is the standard others try to achieve. She was also a great actress. She took the drama and the emotions seriously.

She recorded so many of her roles. To me she sounds like Lady Macbeth in everything but her record company publicized her as the standard bearer so the whole world knows her name.

For me, the greatest Diva is Leontyne Price—the sound, the phrasing, the way she lifts each aria into a moment of exultation.

by Anonymousreply 62July 20, 2021 3:32 AM

[quote] I wonder if Joan Sutherland or Birgit Nilsson did anal.

Only with each other.

by Anonymousreply 63July 20, 2021 3:33 AM

Interestingly I enjoy Renata Scotto over Callas, although both have similar metallic voices. The difference is I’ve seen Scotto on video and find her acting amazing. The voice makes sense when you see her act.

Callas doesn’t have any complete operas available in film so I’ve only experienced her in short clips.

by Anonymousreply 64July 20, 2021 3:34 AM

Sutherland has mushy diction. Nilsson has such a cold sound. Caballe has gorgeous phrasing but gets boring after a few minutes.

by Anonymousreply 65July 20, 2021 3:35 AM

I was so surprised when I heard a Callas Ballo on records. It was actually great and I usually hate her voice.

by Anonymousreply 66July 20, 2021 3:37 AM

Listen to her Rigoletto. It's not an opera I like but I do have and enjoy her performance very much.

by Anonymousreply 67July 20, 2021 3:47 AM

I'm not so sure what the big deal is about recognizing her voice over just a couple of notes is.

I can recognize many famous opera singers over just a few notes, including many of her rivals.

by Anonymousreply 68July 20, 2021 4:52 AM

^^ Mary!

by Anonymousreply 69July 20, 2021 4:56 AM

She was a great actress and interpreter that set her apart from the others.

Vocally she didn't have a pretty voice and others were far better technically than her.

by Anonymousreply 70July 20, 2021 5:24 AM

In the theatre, you go see Callas.

On record, you'd look elsewhere.

by Anonymousreply 71July 20, 2021 5:27 AM

She's the best selling female opera singer of all time.

by Anonymousreply 72July 20, 2021 11:02 AM

“They say I am ‘difficult.’ I am not difficult. I am right.”

by Anonymousreply 73July 20, 2021 11:11 AM

Casta Diva


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by Anonymousreply 74July 20, 2021 11:43 AM

Not really R74.

by Anonymousreply 75July 20, 2021 12:21 PM

[quote] I'm not so sure what the big deal is about recognizing her voice over just a couple of notes is.

That's just one of the marks of an important singer, he or she has an idiosyncratic sound that is easily recognized. She's just one of many. No one claims she's the only one.

by Anonymousreply 76July 20, 2021 12:26 PM

I respect her artistry but she's not one who gives me chills.

The fact that people slept two nights outside the MET to get tickets to her last Tosca performances in NYC shows the power she had on stage.

by Anonymousreply 77July 20, 2021 12:27 PM

R75, that footage was shot over 60 years ago. It was posted just 7 months ago and already has at least 5.7 millions views. You might not feel it, but millions of people around the world feel something divine when they listen to Callas.

by Anonymousreply 78July 20, 2021 12:47 PM

She was a great actress and her voice was unique. Flawed but in a beautiful way. One critic said “If you want to hear a beautiful voice singing “Fortza” you listen to Tebaldi. If you are interested in the fate of Leonora, you listen to Callas.”

by Anonymousreply 79July 20, 2021 12:50 PM

While Callas is great, I tend to go to recordings with Caballe, Price, Scotto instead.

What proves Callas' greatness is that she is supreme in so many varied roles.

by Anonymousreply 80July 20, 2021 1:13 PM

Callas is a very special case. She was great when she first started as fat lady, but she lost her voice when she decided to lose a lot of weight.

According to Sutherland, you can only hear the real Callas before 1955. After her weight loss, she had been struggling to create the full sound she once had. Zinka Milanov also said she sounded great for only several years. Most of the popular records of Callas today are from her struggling years.

Here is a link of her recording. It was magnificent.

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by Anonymousreply 81July 20, 2021 1:21 PM

*link of her early recording

by Anonymousreply 82July 20, 2021 1:24 PM

I have an ominous feeling the Opera crazies have been unleased.

Devotees of particular artists will now stampede the place with tales of how THEIR artist is above ALL other mere mortal singers.

True opera lovers will have recordings by a variety of artists who happen best(subjective) to suit a particular role.

Those that wont listen to any but one artist in near everything and claim they were the greatest in near everything aren't really true opera connoisseurs.

by Anonymousreply 83July 20, 2021 1:41 PM

I bet Sutherland was absolutely thrilling live - that huge but flexible voice must have been incredible. But I find most of her recordings quite uninspired, which I put down to the fact she was most often recorded with her husband. I remember an interview where Joan seemed genuinely upset about the criticism of her terrible diction, but Bonynge interjected and said the sound was all that mattered. While he’s certainly responsible for her bel canto super stardom, he also kept her from genuinely challenging Callas as the greatest. Sutherland’s Turandot shows what she really could do with a decent conductor. I think if I liked bel canto more (I find it too flashy) maybe I’d consider Sutherland more of an equal to Callas, who for me is the greatest of the recorded era. I listen to her almost every day. That being said, I do prefer Price is most of the Verdi roles.

by Anonymousreply 84July 20, 2021 1:42 PM

Sutherland was unique in that she started out as a loud mouth Wagnerian Soprano and became a coloratura.

She had a huge voice both in range and sound where most coloraturas were by nature quite light of sound.

Her diction was terrible but she her and hubby decided that they would modify vowels and drop consonants for the sake of a particular sound.

The argument would be whether she would have had voice she had if she adhered to strict diction, consonants and purity of vowels.

by Anonymousreply 85July 20, 2021 1:58 PM

When asked to comment on Onassis marriage.

"Mrs Kennedy has found a fine grandfather for her children."

by Anonymousreply 86July 20, 2021 2:07 PM

r51, so in public she spoke with a Greek accent?

(Thank you everyone for your posts, I love this thread.)

by Anonymousreply 87July 20, 2021 3:20 PM

Many sopranos likely sounded amazing in the theatre--Callas, Sutherland, Nilsson. Their great vocal attributes don't translate directly to recording. People talk about how Sutherland has a loud, amazingly flexible voice (unlike those who usually sang coloratura roles before her) but recordings only show her amazing coloratura and, unfortunately, a mushy approach to the words. Nilsson apparently had a voice that rode over the orchestra but was pinpoint focused in your ear. You don't get that at all on recordings. I assume Callas was similar--the loudness and accuracy only come across in theatres.

Caballe and Price are examples of sopranos who sound supreme on recordings.

by Anonymousreply 88July 20, 2021 3:27 PM

R88 A modern example of this would be Angela Gheorghiu. She may not be to everyone's taste, but I think her voice records beautifully whereas on stage she's barely audible.

by Anonymousreply 89July 20, 2021 3:47 PM

[Quote]after she was fired from the Met she gets so angry the elegant European Diva disappears and she turns into an angry squawking New Yorker. It's pretty amusing.

R44 You're right, you can here it, especially when she says "repertoire" in a very New York way, at 1:04.

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by Anonymousreply 90July 20, 2021 4:19 PM

Sounds more like a French way of saying "repertoire", r90. Which would make sense, since it is a French word.

She just sounds like a diva to me, she's not trying to be particularly a European diva, although that's how it might come across to Americans. She is right in this instance, though. Go Maria! Fuck the Met for trying to turn opera into a pantomime!

by Anonymousreply 91July 20, 2021 4:30 PM

R89, exactly!! I was so excited to see AG at the MET but I could barely hear her

by Anonymousreply 92July 20, 2021 4:44 PM

Not sure about Callas' wide repertoire - once established, she really just concentrated on the 19th century Italian roles, Donizetti to Puccini. She didn't sing baroque (where Sutherland was a pioneer), Mozart or the later Germans (Wagner, Richard Strauss etc), or much of the French repertory, or solid 20h century roles. (She sang some of these roles early on, but then Sutherland sang Wagner and Weber and at least once an Aida early on - its what happened then). She certainly expanded the role of Bellini and Donizetti in the rep, but it wasn't only her - Sutherland, Caballe, Sills and les well-known ones like Gencer and Kabaivanska also worked hard.

Regarding Georghiu I only herard her once, in her break-out run of Traviata at the Royal Opera under Solti and she was great. I gather later her voice sis shrink rather and the Me is so huge.

by Anonymousreply 93July 20, 2021 4:50 PM

R93, while I agree that Callas' versatility has been overstated, she most certainly did sing Wagner at the beginning of her career -- an Italian-language PARSIFAL exists in pretty good sound, and she caused a major sensation when she sang PURITANI and DIE WALKÜRE within a fairly short time of each other. Her first studio recording had PURITANI's "Qui la voce" and TRISTAN's Liebestod on opposite sides.

She also sang DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL (also in Italian); "Martern aller Arten" featured in several of her concerts.

by Anonymousreply 94July 20, 2021 7:34 PM

Her husband did come out later and did say that whole thing with the Met was intentional because she really didn't want to sing there. Still Maria being called out on her shit publicly was going to send her into a fury.

I don't even know why they started negotiations. But they were both very arrogant willful pains in the asses. Part of the contract was the Met tour which Callas did not want to do. EVERYBODY did the Met tour. Why should she despite all the other Met singers for the season doing it? Callas at the height of her career was not going to tour. Who was she? Mary Martin? She would sing contractually on her own in major American cities and get huge fees for it.

by Anonymousreply 95July 21, 2021 2:55 AM

I love her at r90:

"The same 'Norma,' 'Barber of Seville,' Traviata,' 'Lucia'... I said, 'No! I cannot do routine!'"

by Anonymousreply 96July 21, 2021 3:01 AM

My doctor in the 70s and early 80s was Louis Parrish, M.D. He was famous as an UES society doctor but was more famous in our community as a "clap doctor" who would give you a shot of penicillin without asking too many questions or reporting it to your insurance company. I knew that he was the doctor who examined Callas and gave her the note saying she couldn't sing the night that eventually led to her firing from the Met. I once asked him about it and he laughed and said like a true DLer "La publicité, la publicité."

He also had a degree as a shrink and had a best selling cookbook "Cooking as Therapy."

by Anonymousreply 97July 21, 2021 3:19 AM

She had a look. You, OP, you don't have a look...

by Anonymousreply 98July 21, 2021 3:21 AM

Who else had a career that spanned from Parsifal to Aida to Lady Macbeth to Carmen to Norma?

by Anonymousreply 99July 21, 2021 3:59 AM

Where was her Evita?

by Anonymousreply 100July 21, 2021 4:06 AM

I don't think Callas necessarily would have been that outstanding as Elektra, as someone suggested upthread.

The best way to play that role (and that of Strauss' other most famous tragic heroine, Salomé) is to be absolutely laser-focused on getting the one thing you want (i.e, the death of the person you most hate).

You don't need to be a great actress to do that, as Birgit Nilsson proved--she just needed to convey hot ice-- and she's probably considered the most definitive essayer of those two roles in living memory (sorry, Ljuba and Karita).

by Anonymousreply 101July 21, 2021 4:07 AM

She was no Mary Garden.

by Anonymousreply 102July 21, 2021 4:11 AM

Florence Foster Jenkins sees them all as perhaps her equal, if not just slightly below.

by Anonymousreply 103July 21, 2021 4:21 AM

[quote] She was no Mary Garden.

That's for sure.

Sibyl Sanderson never gave her a pearl necklace while insisting, "Maria, Thaïs must have pearls!"

by Anonymousreply 104July 21, 2021 4:22 AM

Ari was the only one ever to give Callas a pearl necklace... and she wasn't appreciative!

by Anonymousreply 105July 21, 2021 4:34 AM

[quote]Who else had a career that spanned from Parsifal to Aida to Lady Macbeth to Carmen to Norma?

Lilli (not Lottie) Lehman had that kind of range but I can't think of anyone else.

Who was the soprano in the 1890s who had a huge, well trained voice who made her Met debut as Aida and the next morning the Times review said "Last night the Nile froze over." Google was useless.

by Anonymousreply 106July 21, 2021 5:05 AM

"Her [Lilli Lehmann's] mature voice, of splendid quality and large volume, gained for her the reputation of being not only one of the greatest Wagnerian singers of her day but also an ideal interpreter of Bellini's Norma and the operatic music of Mozart. She was considered unsurpassed in the roles of Brünnhilde and Isolde but sang an astonishingly wide array of other parts. Indeed, across the span of her career, she performed 170 different parts in a total of 119 German, Italian and French operas."

She was as well known for her fluency in the early 19th century coloratura roles of Donizetti, Rossini and Bellini as she was for her Isolde and and Brunnhilde.

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by Anonymousreply 107July 21, 2021 5:14 AM

I believe the exact first line of the review was, 'Last night there was skating on the Nile.'

What a cunt. Must have been a DLer.

by Anonymousreply 108July 21, 2021 5:28 AM

Callas would have made a great Ortrud

by Anonymousreply 109July 21, 2021 11:06 AM

Aww, who had to go and bring in Wayne Kostenbaum to stink up the room? His opera book is the worst. Queer theory at its most vacuous.

by Anonymousreply 110July 21, 2021 11:43 AM

R101, Callas absolutely didn’t have the right voice for Elektra. It takes a very heavy dramatic soprano, a Varnay, a Bork, a Nilsson. The orchestra is a real tsunami in this one, hence the requirement for a very powerful voice. Wasn’t it Strauss himself during rehearsals who would shout at the orchestra “louder, louder, I can still hear the soprano”?.

However she could have attempted a more lyrical role like Salome. In fact, with her dramatic instinct, she would have been fascinating.

by Anonymousreply 111July 21, 2021 12:06 PM

[quote] Casta Diva. Heavenly.

No, R74, I’d say the opposite. It’s quite earthbound and grounded and that’s what makes it great. Her vocal connection to real human emotion rather than the sort of airy detachment most operatic singers exhibit.

by Anonymousreply 112July 21, 2021 1:04 PM

Maybe the Empress in Frosch? She never sang in German. It was always in translation to Italian. I believe Oberon's Ocean Thou mighty monster from the beginning could be done in German or English which of course she sang in English.

by Anonymousreply 113July 21, 2021 1:46 PM

I lay awake nights imagining how spectacular her Mame would have been.

by Anonymousreply 114July 21, 2021 3:25 PM

[quote]Aww, who had to go and bring in Wayne Kostenbaum to stink up the room? His opera book is the worst. Queer theory at its most vacuous.

I'll make sure next time to submit a full list ahead of time of people i might mention in my posts to make sure you approve of all of them.

by Anonymousreply 115July 21, 2021 3:39 PM


I always wondered if the choir is slightly off at 3:13 and Maria signals her entrance at 3:19 with that handgesture? She also gives funny side-eye twice?

by Anonymousreply 116July 21, 2021 5:35 PM

She only seemed to sing in Italian and French.

Didn't she know any other languages?

by Anonymousreply 117July 21, 2021 8:02 PM

Greek and English, r117.

by Anonymousreply 118July 21, 2021 8:04 PM

I know of no Greek operas, but it almost in imaginable to think of her singing in English--in "The Ballad of Bbaby Doe" for example.

by Anonymousreply 119July 21, 2021 8:06 PM

I dislike opera in English. It reminds me of Brigadoon and Showboat.

by Anonymousreply 120July 21, 2021 8:13 PM

Willow Song belongs to Bubbles, r119...

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by Anonymousreply 121July 21, 2021 8:16 PM

Barber wanted Callas to star in his VANESSA, but she refused to sing in English

by Anonymousreply 122July 21, 2021 8:25 PM

For R106

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by Anonymousreply 123July 21, 2021 9:29 PM

Ocean thou mighty monster is in english.

I think she sang in Greek when she was a student in Greece and sang complete operas like Fidelio and operettas. This was still a time when often opera was sung in the native language of the audience.

by Anonymousreply 124July 21, 2021 10:09 PM

R90 - seeing her in person, just talking, I think she’s gorgeous. So many upthread find her looks overrated, but no, she truly has the X factor.

by Anonymousreply 125July 22, 2021 2:03 AM

R106, you're thinking of Emma Eames.

by Anonymousreply 126July 22, 2021 5:55 AM

[quote] Why was Maria Callas so great?


by Anonymousreply 127July 22, 2021 6:01 AM

She reinvented herself the way Monroe did. New name, new look. From a chunky 20 y old, she became a fashion icon. The stick-thin look also fit well with Violetta. Her dedication was one of a kind. She totally lived for art, that's also why it became her signature aria. She was a "Gesamtkunstwerk". There isn't a single snippet, audio or vide, where she is not all-in, even in the shitty concerts she did to make money for di Stefano when he was broke when her voice already gave up. I also heard it was due to some disease that her voice became shaky, also related to her early death, and I personally think it is likely. (I attached an article with many early pictures of her.)

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by Anonymousreply 128July 22, 2021 6:53 AM

Also when she met Ari she lost the will to put in the intense training she needed to continue her career. She then started singing on her capitol which hastened the deterioration of her voice. As has been noted she needed to live like a nun and completely dedicate herself to her vocation which she was no longer willing to do. She wanted her cruises on yachts in the Mediterranean with the man she adored and she wanted her cafe society parties in Paris. She was tired and wanted to enjoy life as she felt she never had the choice before. She was still in her 30s.

But I do think when she saw this relationship slipping away she knew she had made a fatal mistake. She no longer had Ari or her career and she lived in enormous emotional pain for the rest of her life.

by Anonymousreply 129July 22, 2021 11:12 AM

[quote][R106], you're thinking of Emma Eames.

Yes, thank you, r126!

by Anonymousreply 130July 22, 2021 12:11 PM

From Wikipedia:

[quote]During her prime, Eames possessed an opulently beautiful, aristocratic and expertly trained soprano voice. It began as a purely lyric instrument but increased in size over time, enabling her to sing parts as heavy as Aida, Sieglinde, Santuzza and Tosca in large auditoriums. Music critics occasionally took her to task, however, for the coldness of her interpretations and aloof stage manner.

Below, Eames as Aida from WP.

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by Anonymousreply 131July 22, 2021 1:29 PM

R123, that review was written by a DLer!!

"...but this despicable CD..."

by Anonymousreply 132July 22, 2021 1:32 PM

And thank you, r123.

by Anonymousreply 133July 22, 2021 1:38 PM

She was all New Yawk Tawk.

by Anonymousreply 134July 22, 2021 2:01 PM
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