As this recital amply demonstrates, Maria Callas encompassed an extraordinary range of roles. She is as convincing in the pinpoint coloratura of Lakmé's 'Bell Song' ("Her chromatic scale is beautifully done and she sails up to the region known as in alt with the greatest ease," said Gramophone) as in the sweeping, richly-colored lines of Maddalena's "La mamma morta" from Andrea Chénier, famously and movingly featured on the soundtrack of the 1993 Hollywood film "Philadelphia."
"There is great tenderness and simplicity, deep emotion, and the most lovely moulding of the vocal phrases," wrote Gramophone, "Madame Callas's characterisations ... are nothing less than superb, and altogether there is some of her finest singing yet recorded."
Maria Callas was born to a Greek family in New York in 1923. Her vocal training took place in Athens, where her teacher was the coloratura soprano Elvira de Hidalgo, who had sung with Enrico Caruso and Feodor Chaliapin. After early performances in Greece, Callas' international career was launched in 1947 when she performed the title role in Ponchielli's La Gioconda at the Arena di Verona in Italy. Her voice defied simple classification and her artistic range was extraordinary. In her early twenties she sang such heavy dramatic roles as Gioconda, Turandot, Brünnhilde and Isolde, but over the course of her career her most famous roles came to be: Bellini's Norma and Amina (La sonnambula); Verdi's Violetta (La traviata); Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena, Cherubini's Medea and Puccini's Tosca.
|Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)|
|1. Ecco: respiro appena. Io son l'umile ancella (Act I)|
|2. Poveri fiori (Act IV)|
|Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)|
|3. La mamma morta (Act III)|
|Alfredo Catalani (1854-1893)|
|4. Ebben? ne andro lontana (Act I)|
|Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)|
|5. L'altra notte in fondo al mare (Act III)|
|Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)|
|Il barbiere di Siviglia|
|1. Una voce poco fa (Act I)|
|Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864)|
|2. Ombra leggera (Aria dell'ombra) (Act II)|
|Leo Delibes (1836-1891)|
|3. Dov'e I'indiana bruna? (Aria delle campanelle) (Act II)|
|Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)|
|I vespri siciliani|
|4. Merce, dilette amiche (Act V)|