V2539. MARIA CALLAS: Live Remastered Recordings 1949-1964, incl. Umberto Mugnai, Victor de Sabata, Tullio Serafin, Carlo Maria Giulini, Vittorio Gui, Erich Kleiber, Oliviero de Fabritiis, Leonard Bernstein, Franco Ghione, Antonino Votto, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Herbert von Karajan, Nino Sanzogno, Carlo Felice Cillario & Nicola Rescigno Cond.: MARIA CALLAS LIVE. [‘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 45-disc 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. This luxury box set comprises 42 CDs (20 complete operas) and 3 Blu-ray discs (5 recitals). Twelve of the operas were never recorded by Callas in the studio: Nabucco, I vespri siciliani, Macbeth, Parsifal, Anna Bolena, Poliuto, Armida, Il pirata, Alceste, Ifigenia in Tauride, La vestale & Andrea Chénier. Apart from that, we are also able to witness the historic performance of AIDA in Mexico City, where she interpolated a high E flat at the end of the Triumphal Scene, exciting the audience to ecstatic applause; LA TRAVIATA (Lisbon 1958), conducted by Franco Ghione with Alfredo Kraus; her only incarnation on stage of Gilda in RIGOLETTO; NORMA, at the height of her vocal powers in London; LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR in the legendary perfomance with Karajan at the Städtische Oper Berlin; MEDEA and LA SONNAMBULA under Leonard Bernstein at La Scala, and the heartbreaking TOSCA from Covent Garden, 1964]. Warner Classics 9029584470, incl. 42-CDs & 3 Blu-ray discs, in handsome boxed set w.214pp booklet. - 0190295844707
“This monumental undertaking by Warner Classics, a companion to its remarkable restoration of Maria Callas’ complete studio recordings from 2015, is a major triumph. The Warner restoration team, working with Studio Art et Son in Paris, has improved on every prior release of this material. In a few cases the improvement is slight, in other cases major; most of the time it is meaningful. If you can find the set at any kind of bargain price on the Internet, snap it up, and donate your old copies to a friend, or the public library or a charity resale shop. This set is a collection of historic importance.
I have spent over a month doing A-B comparisons with EMI releases as well as those of various reissue labels. Pitches have been corrected, distortion and dynamic compression have been minimized, and basic sound quality has been made as warm and natural as the original sources would permit….It should also be noted that audience applause is included in many of these performances; some find that intrusive, but for me it adds to the atmosphere.
…. I will say only that for much of her career Maria Callas was unique, not simply one of the most important opera singers of her time but of any time. Her abilities as a vocal actress, an intelligent artist who used vocal color t intensify the drama, were unequalled. She was unique enough that even as the voice began to decline, she remained an artist of immense importance, well worth hearing despite flaws such as the occasional wobble at the top. The voice itself was not a traditionally beautiful one, but it had its own unique attractions as a sound for other reasons. Often the real strength of a Callas performance was in the material in between the big numbers: the dialogue, the interaction with other characters. If you are the kind of opera listener whose principal interest is in the big tunes of the arias and duets, Callas may not be your cup of tea….I have always believed that she is heard at her best in live recordings, for Callas was a true stage animal. Another benefit of these live recordings is that the voice itself often sounds better because the microphones were not as close in the opera house.
….Some other general comments about the set: There is an in-depth 214-page booklet in small type (don’t panic about the length- the text is in four languages) featuring an overall essay about the set and a brief article about Callas’ relationship with each opera and the specific performances. Each opera comes in a fold-out cardboard case, with individual booklets that contain a full cast list, track listing, a brief synopsis of the plot, and an essay about the opera and its composer. There is also some information about the recording sources that are being used, but I would have liked more detail and specificity. Perhaps there are ticklish privacy issues.
Extensive as it is, this set does not encompass all of Callas’ live recordings, but it does cover every role that has been preserved….It is worth noting that 12 of these 20 operas were never recorded in the studio by Callas.
….The three video discs are true historic documents, given that no complete Callas opera performance was captured by the camera. By seeing her in action as a creature of the stage, even in abbreviated form, we are given a fuller picture of Callas the complete artist. We experience first-hand the charisma, the stage presence, the full power of the personality in a way that amplifies what we already know from the audio recordings. Callas’ expressive eyes alone make fascinating watching, as they serve as windows into the characters she is portraying; this is true even in the concert material. The videos make a wonderful bonus to this utterly remarkable and valuable set from Warner Classics.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE