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.
It is 40 years since Maria Callas died (16th September 1977), but she lives on as the epitome of the operatic diva. She has never lost her place among the top-selling classical artists. To mark this anniversary alongside the luxury boxset – 0190295844707 Maria Callas Live - Warner Classics also releases two compilations: 2CD Digipak 1LP Standard 180gr. These two collections benefit from the superb new remastering and convey thus Callas’ compelling genius as a singing actress with a new truthfulness and immediacy: Maria Callas Live and Alive! ü The passion and charisma of Maria Callas, performing live on the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls, can now be experienced as never before – thanks to new audio remastering from the best available sources. These are performances that played a crucial part in creating the legend of Callas, La Divina, and which keep her thrilling art very much alive.
It's pretty simple-this boxed set contains EVERYTHING La Divina recorded in the studio, including newly-licensed and newly-remastered material! That's the first 69 CDs; the 70th CD is a CD-ROM containing the tracklists and photos. And the set comes inside a hardcover slipcase containing a color booklet packed with even more photos of this most photogenic of opera singers. As for the contents, well, again, it's EVERYTHING she did in the studio.
Although Maria Callas died over three decades ago, she remains an icon: as a supreme singing-actress; as a celebrity, and as a woman of great style and elegance. The epitome of the operatic diva, the American-born Greek soprano is recognised as a singer who defined, and even redefined opera in the 20th century and she has never lost her place among the world’s top-selling classical artists.
With two official EMI versions and five complete live recordings, Norma is at the top of the Callas hit parade, but choosing a single version is a nightmare as each has its virtues, based on the state of the soprano's voice or the surrounding cast. My first choice lies with the first 1954 studio recording where the balance between vocal health and emotive quality is as good as one can get for this artist.
This was Maria Callas' first studio-recorded Norma, and it remains a formidable performance. If it doesn't quite have the emotional shadings of her 1960 EMI re-make, it is certainly vocally more secure and in its way just as authoritative. The grandeur of the voice itself is always in evidence; her seeming spontaneity to dramatic situations makes the drama real. Mario Filippeschi's Pollione is impressive–he was a finer tenor than he's given credit for–and Ebe Stignani's Adalgisa is warm and blends superbly with Callas in the duets. Nicola Rossi-Lemeni's Oroveso is a mass of wobbles. Tullio Serafin leads masterfully but observes all the cuts that were standard for the '50s. Most people prefer the 1960 performance, with its clearer delineation between Norma-the-warrior and Norma-the-woman (and for Corelli and Ludwig in the two supporting roles, not to mention the stereo sound), but by 1960 Callas' vocal problems were pretty overt, so you'll have to take the good with the bad. My preference is for the 1955 recording (on Opera d'Oro) with del Monaco under Serafin; its minute-by-minute potency and glorious singing are unmatchable.