The Best of...

Part I

Bach - Beethoven - Brahms - Chopin -  Handel  - Haydn
Liszt - Mendelssohn
Mozart  -  Paganini  -  Puccini  -  Schubert
Strauss  - Tchaikovsky  -  Verdi  -  Vivaldi  -  Wagner

 Part II

The greatest opera singers
The Best of... (Part II)
The greatest opera singers
Maria Callas

Maria Callas as Violetta in La traviata, 1958
Maria Callas, original name Maria Cecilia Sophia Anna Kalogeropoulos (born December 2, 1923, New York, New York, U.S.—died September 16, 1977, Paris, France), American-born Greek operatic soprano who revived classical coloratura roles in the mid-20th century with her lyrical and dramatic versatility.

Callas was the daughter of Greek immigrants and early developed an interest in singing. Accompanied by her mother, she left the United States in 1937 to study at the Athens Conservatory with soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. She sang locally in Cavalleria rusticana and Boccaccio and returned to the United States in 1945.

Her career began in earnest in August 1947, when she appeared in Verona in La gioconda. Soon, under the tutoring of conductor Tullio Serafin, she made debuts in Venice, Turin, and Florence. In 1949 she first appeared in Rome, Buenos Aires, and Naples and in 1950 in Mexico City. Her powerful soprano voice, capable of sustaining both lyric and coloratura roles, was, although not perfect in control, intensely dramatic; combined with her strong sense of theatre and her scrupulously high artistic standards, it took her quickly to the forefront of contemporary opera talent. Her abilities made possible the revival of 19th-century bel canto works, notably those of Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti, that had long been dropped from standard repertoires.

Callas made her debut at the prestigious La Scala in Milan in 1950, singing in I Vespri siciliani. In 1952 she appeared at Covent Garden, London. Her American debut took place in November 1954 at Chicago’s Lyric Opera in the title role of Norma, a performance she repeated before a record audience at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Callas’s recordings were enthusiastically received, and she was one of the most popular singers of the period. Her much-publicized volatile temperament resulted in several protracted feuds with rivals and managers.

After a final operatic performance as Tosca at Covent Garden (July 1965), Callas made the film Medea (1969). In 1966 she became a Greek citizen and relinquished her U.S. citizenship. She taught master classes in opera at Juilliard (1972) before a last U.S. and European concert tour (1973–74). By the time of her retirement, she had performed more than 40 different roles and had recorded more than 20 complete operas. Callas’s personality and philosophy of performance are powerfully depicted in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (first performed and published 1995), based on her classes at Juilliard.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI (Greek: Μαρία Κάλλας; December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977), was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic gifts. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini; further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina.
Born in New York City and raised by an overbearing mother, she received her musical education in Greece and established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of wartime poverty and with myopia that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. She turned herself from a heavy woman into a svelte and glamorous one after a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career. The press exulted in publicizing Callas's allegedly temperamental behavior, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and her love affair with Aristotle Onassis. Her dramatic life and personal tragedy have often overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press. However, her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the Bible of opera"; and her influence was so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists."

Maria Callas - Ave Maria
Maria Callas 'London Farewell Concert' at the Royal Festival Hall with Giuseppe di Stefano, 1973
This was Maria Callas' farewell concert in London in 1973. It was held at the Royal Festival Hall. She sang with Giuseppe di Stefano. They were accompanied by Ivor Newton. The programme is:

1. Verdi, Don Carlos, Act II duet
2. Lalo, de Roi D'ys, Vainement ma bien aimé (di Stefano solo)
3. Poncinelli, La Gioconda, Suicidio (Callas solo)
4. Bizet, Carmen (duet)
5. Mascagni, Cavalliera Rusticana, Voi lo sapete (Callas solo)
6. Mascagni, Cavalliera Rusticana, Tu qui Stanuzza (duet)
7. Puccini, O Babbino caro (encore, Callas solo)

COMPLETE CONCERT: Maria Callas at Covent Garden, 4.11.1962
Maria Callas from The Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Conductor: Georges Pretre
4 November 1962.
Madame Butterfly - Maria Callas
Puccini's Opera ''madame butterfly'' by Maria Callas
Maria Callas - La Traviata
La traviata
E strano! E strano!...Ah, fors'è lui che l'anima...Follie! Follie!...Sempre libera
Orchestra sinfonica di Torino della RAI
Conducted by Gabriele Santini

È strano! È strano! In core
scolpiti ho quegli accenti!
Saria per me sventura un serio amore?
Che risolvi, o turbata anima mia?
Null'uomo ancora t'accendeva -- O gioia
ch'io non conobbi, esser amata amando!
E sdegnarla poss'io
per l'aride follie del viver mio?
Ah, fors'è lui che l'anima
solinga ne' tumulti
godea sovente pingere
de' suoi colori occulti!
Lui che modesto e vigile
all'egre soglie ascese,
e nuova febbre accese,
destandomi all'amor.
A quell'amor ch'è palpito
dell'universo intero,
misterioso, altero,
croce e delizia al cor!
Follie! follie! Delirio vano è questo!
Povera donna, sola,
abbandonata in questo
popoloso deserto
che appellano Parigi.
Che spero or più?
Che far degg'io? Gioire,
di voluttà ne' vortici perir.
Gioir, gioir!
Sempre libera degg'io
folleggiare di gioia in gioia,
vo' che scorra il viver mio
pei sentieri del piacer.
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
sempre lieta ne' ritrovi,
a diletti sempre nuovi
dee volare il mio pensier.
ALFREDO (sotto al balcone)
Amore, amor è palpito...
...dell'universo intero --
Oh amore.
Misterioso, misterioso, altero,
croce, croce e delizia,
croce e delizia, delizia al cor.
Follie! follie! Ah sì! Gioir, gioir!
Sempre libera degg'io
folleggiare di gioia in gioia,
vo' che scorra il viver mio
pei sentieri del piacer.
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
sempre lieta ne' ritrovi,
a diletti sempre nuovi,
dee volare il mio pensier.
Amor è palpito
dell'universo --
Ah! Dee volar il mio pensier.
Ah! il mio pensier. Il mio pensier.

Maria Callas, Norma - Casta Diva - Bellini
1 9 5 4
Casta Diva
Tullio Serafin
Maria Callas & Guiseppe di Stefano Tokyo 1974
Maria Callas
Guiseppe di Stefano
Robert Sutherland
Maria Callas sings Casta Diva... Ah Bello EIGHT TIMES
Here is the third video in the Maria Callas sings MANY TIMES series :)
Casta Diva... (Fine Al Rito when available) and Ah Bello A Me Ritorna, from Bellini's Norma.

Callas' Norma is definitive - who else can sing it better than her?? Here is a walkthrough her entire Norma career, from her beginnings in 1949 to later, in 1960. This turned out to be an hour and a half long.

This is a reupload - thanks to Remalia19 for pointing out a repeat in the previous video, thus now Callas sings Casta Diva EIGHT TIMES instead of NINE. I do realize I am missing all of the performances after 1960, which I do not own recordings of, sadly :)

Maria Callas, "O mio babbino caro" (Puccini)
Maria Callas
Georges Prêtre, Orchestre National de France, 1965
O mio babbino caro
Mi piace è bello, bello
Vo' andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello
Sì, sì, ci voglio andare
e se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno
Mi struggo e mi tormento
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà di me!
Maria Callas Otello: Ave Maria
Maria Callas - La mamma morta
From the album 'The Very Best of Maria Callas'.
Maria Callas sings "Les Tringles Des Sistres Tintaient" (Gypsy Song) from Bizet's Carmen
Marias Callas sings "Habanera" from Bizet's Carmen
Tokio, 1974
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