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.
Callas first sang at Milan’s legendary La Scala for the opening of the 1951–1952 season (in Verdi’s I vespri siciliani) and she became closely identified with the theatre, notably in productions directed by Luchino Visconti and his protégé Franco Zeffirelli. Spontini’s La vestale was staged for her there in 1954, Bellini’s La sonnambula in 1955, and her final La Scala performances came in 1962 with Cherubini’s Medea. ‘This wonderful record gives us … Callas at her most spell-binding and enthralling,’ wrote Gramophone. ‘Callas at La Scala … shows the diva at her most exciting and most beautiful.’
This is a deluxe box set including: Each individual item (complete opera or recital CD) presented in its original artwork, 136 pages hard-back book containing essays, a biography and chronology, rarely-seen photos and also reproductions of revealing correspondence between Maria Callas, Walter Legge and other EMI executives.