|Posted by showbizdeluxe on October 5, 2011 at 3:15 PM|
Widely regarded as the greatest opera singer and performer of all time, Maria Callas is the original diva, the ultimate opera icon. Her life story, voice and performances intrigued, thrilled and inspired audiences during her lifetime and continue to do so today. Thirty-four years after her death, Maria Callas is not only the world's bestselling soprano but also EMI Classic's bestselling artist of all time.
Diva, artist, style icon. Who was the real Maria? The Callas Effect is a deluxe presentation bringing together 2CDs of her finest, most personal recordings, a new documentary DVD featuring fresh insight from those closest to her and a lavishly illustrated 124-page hardcover book with an essay illuminating and honouring the essence of Maria Callas, the woman and the myth.
Callas dévotées will find new material and food for thought in The Callas Effect. Those less familiar with her personal and musical allure will find an attractive and compelling introduction. Callas is an artist whose music sounds as unique and inspired today as it did in her lifetime and has been named as a musical influence by such diverse popular artists as Celine Dion, Linda Ronstadt, Patti Smith, Emmylou Harris, Jason Mraz and Rufus Wainwright.
The CDs contain exquisitely interpreted arias from nearly 30 operas, including such favourites as O mio babbino caro, Vissi d’arte and Casta diva.
The newly-produced DVD documentary-memoir features performance footage, recordings and still photos combined with powerful first-hand accounts of Maria Callas’s genius from witnesses of all walks of life. Opera singers, stage directors, actors/actresses, backstage theatre crews, recording staff, impresarios and opera fans who queued for days to buy tickets to her performances all describe how Maria Callas exerted a unique and extraordinary effect on them. Among the interviewees are singers Mirella Freni, Joyce DiDonato and John Dobson, former General Administrator of the Royal Opera House John Tooley, stage director John Copley, EMI Classics Callas biographer Tony Locantro, critic and broadcaster John Amis – and Maria Callas herself, in conversation with Lord Harewood.
The glossy, hardcover book contains a new article by Ira Siff, translated into German, French, Spanish and Italian. Siff suggests that Maria Callas, without doubt the most influential opera singer of the 20th century, had such a far-reaching impact on opera that her influence is still gaining momentum today. Her timeless, universal appeal captures the imagination, not only of opera lovers but of people who have never set foot in an opera house.
Maria Callas was “a bundle of contradictions: artistically radical, socially conservative, fiercely independent, obsessed with appearances.” In other words, she was human, real flesh and blood, as were her gripping interpretations of the operatic roles that she portrayed with intense characterisation and maturity of emotional expression.
Siff chronicles Callas’s life story as the daughter of poor Greek immigrants to America, her studies in Greece with Elvira de Hidalgo, who trained what she described as the “tempestuous, extravagant cascades of sound, as yet uncontrolled, but full of drama and emotion”. We learn about Callas’s debuts, the launch of her international career and her championing by Tullio Serafin, the variety of roles she took on, both heavy and bel canto. She learned new roles in record time, grasped new languages, complete with their inflections and subtleties. We follow her trajectory to legend status, learn how she revolutionised performances with vocal virtuosity and dramatic impact, how she shaped her talent and transformed her physique, losing 70 pounds and inspiring Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli to mount new productions for her. Callas became a style icon, fell in love with Aristotle Onassis and lost him to Jackie Kennedy. She died, aged 53, of a fatal heart attack in 1977.
Her career was short but, as Tito Gobbi’s daughter, in the DVD documentary, quotes her father as saying, “Maria is immortal.” – And she is.