Saturday, September 24, 2005


There is a wonderful article in Opera News about Maria Callas this month. It is exactly what I would want to read about Callas—what other singers think of her legacy, which only grows with each passing decade. I remember buying a Callas recording recently, and the clerk said to me, “She’s bigger than ever.”

Opera is by far the most complicated of all art forms. It subsumes the entire art of theater, goes on to encompass music and tops the whole thing off with its own invented art form: operatic singing. This gives each individual performer enormous scope.

Read the article for yourself. For me Callas is leaving no stone unturned. She fully expresses at the level of theater, and at the level of music and as a singer. They say that she read and understood the words, and therefore she was great. That’s good. I certainly wouldn’t argue about it. But she also understood and fully expressed it as singing. She was able to translate her own very personal emotional understanding of a role into music, producing a level of expression never exceeded and seldom equaled. Saying that it’s words is just not enough.

Did you notice in “The Bridges of Madison County” that Merle Streep is alone in the kitchen, listening to opera on the radio, and the recording is Callas singing “Casta diva?” This is a test.

Maria Callas is opera.

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