Introducing Maria Callas

feat. Bizet, Ponchielli, Verdi, Donizetti & Puccini

Maria Callas. One of the greatest operatic divas of all time, but also famous far beyond the opera stage.

In fact probably the vast majority of people today who are aware of her have never actually heard her sing, such was the multitude of other ways in which she caught the international public imagination. There was her glamour and beauty, for instance, which made her a prominent figure in the world of fashion. Then there were her alleged tempers and rivalries with other sopranos. Also a turbulent private life. But of course we're devoting this collection to her not because of the dresses or the gossip fodder but because of what she gave the world in musical terms. Born in 1923 in New York to Greek immigrant parents, Callas combined a powerful and agile soprano voice with a magnetic stage presence and the ability to really perform. So beyond being the soprano everybody wanted to see and hear in the major roles such as Carmen and Turandot, she was also the singer who managed to rehabilitate a section of the early nineteenth century operatic repertoire written by composers such as Donizetti and Bellini called bel canto, which by the twentieth century had become the preserve of light-voiced sopranos and consequently fallen a bit limp. Sadly though, Callas's singing career was not a long one. In fact it was pretty much over by the age of forty, due to vocal decline caused by underlying health problems, and then in 1977 she died of a heart attack aged just fifty three. As for why this Grammofy Callas Collection now, the reason is that it coincides with Callas in Concert – The Hologram Tour: an opportunity to actually see Callas in concert, in hologram form at least, beamed onstage via digital and laser projection and supported by a live orchestra. Our music is therefore mostly drawn from the accompanying Hologram Tour album on Warner Classics, so even if you can't get to a show you can at least still enjoy here the remastered recordings it uses.

You want to read and learn more about Maria Callas? Then meet the fascinating singer here.

Curation & Text: Natascha Klotschkoff, Charlotte Gardner

Speaker: Charlotte Gardner

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Introducing Maria Callas

  • An introduction to Bizet — Carmen

  • Carmen Preview Only

    Georges Bizet

    Maria Callas, Carlo Maria Giulini, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano1964
  • An introduction to Ponchielli — La Gioconda

  • La Gioconda Preview Only

    Amilcare Ponchielli

    Maria Callas, Carlo Maria Giulini, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano1959
  • An introduction to Verdi — Macbeth

  • Macbeth Preview Only

    Giuseppe Verdi

    Maria Callas, Carlo Maria Giulini, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano1958
  • An introduction to Donizetti — Lucia di Lammermoor

  • Lucia di Lammermoor Preview Only

    Gaetano Donizetti

    Maria Callas, Margreta Elkins, Philharmonia Orchestra, Tullio Serafin
  • An introduction to Puccini — Turandot

  • Turandot Preview Only

    Giacomo Puccini

    Maria Callas, Philharmonia Orchestra, Tullio Serafin1954

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