V1339. MARIA CALLAS, w.Serafin Cond.: Puccini Heroines and Lyric Arias, incl. Arias from Manon Lescaut, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Turandot, Adriana Lecouvreur, Andrea Chénier, La Wally & Mefistofele. (E.U.) Naxos 8.111275, recorded 1954. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 747313327522
“I have to [sing], but I don't like [my voice] at all because I don't like the kind of voice I have. I really hate listening to myself! The first time I listened to a recording of my singing was when we were recording ‘San Giovanni Battista’ by Stradella in a church in Perugia in 1949. They made me listen to the tape and I cried my eyes out. I wanted to stop everything, to give up singing... Also now even though I don't like my voice, I've become able to accept it and to be detached and objective about it so I can say, ‘Oh, that was really well sung’, or ‘It was nearly perfect."
- Maria Callas, French Radio Interview with journalist Philippe Caloni
“It is very difficult to speak of the voice of Callas. Her voice was a very special instrument. Something happens sometimes with string instruments — violin, viola, cello — where the first moment you listen to the sound of this instrument, the first feeling is a bit strange sometimes. But after just a few minutes, when you get used to, when you become friends with this kind of sound, then the sound becomes a magical quality. This was Callas.”
John Ardoin, Callas: A Documentary
“Once one heard and saw Maria Callas — one can't really distinguish it — in a part, it was very hard to enjoy any other artist, no matter how great, afterwards, because she imbued every part she sang and acted with such incredible personality and life. One move of her hand was more than another artist could do in a whole act.”
- Rudolf Bing, Callas: A Documentary
“Most admirable of all her qualities, however, were her taste, elegance and deeply musical use of ornamentation in all its forms and complications, the weighting and length of every appoggiatura, the smooth incorporation of the turn in melodic lines, the accuracy and pacing of her trills, the seemingly inevitable timing of her portamentos, varying their curve with enchanting grace and meaning. There were innumerable exquisite felicities—minuscule portamentos from one note to its nearest neighbor, or over widespread intervals—and changes of color that were pure magic. In these aspects of bel canto she was supreme mistress of that art.”
- Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, On and Off the Record: A Memoir of Walter Legge.
“The last great artist. When you think this woman was nearly blind, and often sang standing a good 150 feet from the podium. But her sensitivity! Even if she could not see, she sensed the music and always came in exactly with my downbeat. When we rehearsed, she was so precise, already note-perfect.... She was not just a singer, but a complete artist. It's foolish to discuss her as a voice. She must be viewed totally—as a complex of music, drama, movement. There is no one like her today. She was an esthetic phenomenon.”
- Antonio Votto, Callas: The Art and the Life (Ardoin).
“There are times when certain people are blessed—and cursed—with an extraordinary gift, in which the gift is almost greater than the human being. Callas was one of these people. It was as if her own wishes, her life, her own happiness were all subservient to this incredible, incredible gift that she was given, this gift that reached out and taught us things about music that we knew very well, but showed us new things, things we never thought about, new possibilities. I think that is why singers admire her so. I think that's why conductors admire her so. I know it's why I admire her so. And she paid a tremendously difficult and expensive price for this career. I don't think she always understood what she did or why she did it. She usually had a tremendous effect on audiences and on people. But it was not something she could always live with gracefully or happily. I once said to her ‘It must be a very enviable thing to be Maria Callas’. And she said, ‘No, it's a very terrible thing to be Maria Callas, because it's a question of trying to understand something you can never really understand’. She couldn't really explain what she did. It was all done by instinct. It was something embedded deep within her.”
- John Ardoin Interview with Patsy Swank, 1978