EMI's generous compilation of 100 tracks from its archive of recordings by Maria Callas makes a fine introduction to her legacy. Callas' voice isn't consistent throughout, but when she's at her best, it's easy to hear the musical and dramatic power that made her the most legendary opera singer of the 20th century. She is impressive often enough that it's not hard to forgive the performances that are less than stellar. The six-disc collection is intelligently organized, with each disc dedicated to a particular composer (or several composers) or a theme: Bellini; Donizetti and Rossini; Verdi; Puccini; French operatic heroines; and dramatic heroines.
Marking the 40th anniversary of Maria Callas’ death (16th September 1977), Maria Callas Live captures the legendary soprano in action on the stages of the world’s great opera houses and concert halls. Thanks to new audio remastering from the best available sources, this set reveals Callas’ compelling genius as a singing actress with a new truthfulness and immediacy. Containing 20 complete operas – including 12 works she never recorded in the studio – and five complete filmed recitals (with two different stagings of Act 2 of Tosca) on Blu-ray, Maria Callas Live is the indispensable complement to Callas Remastered, Warner Classics’ landmark collection of her studio recordings.
La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker) is an opera semiseria in two acts, with music in the bel canto tradition by Vincenzo Bellini. This 2008 production was staged by Hugo de Ana at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. The references to 17th century Romantic painting and refined visual projections are a tribute to Luchino Visconti. Visconti produced the memorable performance of La Sonnambula at the Scala di Milano with the magnificent Maria Callas.
Simone Alaimo is one of Italy’s best bass-baritones and Antonino Siragusa is a very experienced performer of Rossini and Bellini operas. The role of Amina is sung by the rising star of the International world, Eglise Gutierrez.
…Massimo Checchetto’s opening set…is winningly picturesque…Bepi Morassi’s staging within it seems perfectly natural, its charms never forced. Pratt has a beautiful, expressive face, ever alive to Amina’s changing fortunes and her unchanging love. Her voice, too, is lovely and expressive…She’s endearingly simple, just as Amina should be. Gabriele Ferro conducts the Fenice forces with grace and practiced style…The sound is spacious and the Blu-ray image crystal clear. (Opera News)