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Subject: Re: The Callas discussion
From: Jason Victor Serinus <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jason Victor Serinus <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 6 Aug 2016 09:45:27 -0700
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I thank you all for this exchange. I for the first time fully understand
where Bob is coming from.

I'd love to share my first two experiences with Callas' voice. While I was
in high school in Rockville Centre, I learned about Callas and wanted to
learn what all the fuss was about. Off to the public library I went, to
borrow her final Rossini recital. I can't remember if I played it on our
Garrard - what was the amp - Bozak set-up or our $200 Magnavox, but every
time she hit a high note and it wobbled like crazy, I laughed. I thought it
was funny.

Nonetheless, talk of Callas persisted as I went off to Amherst. (I read
Stereo Review in those days, and occasionally the New York Times, and also
sang in Glee Club.) And I knew that, no matter what I heard on that
recital, she was not a comedy act. So sometime in my junior or senior year,
I bought the great 1953 Tosca set with Gobbi, Di Stefano, etc. I put side
one on the Magnavox one-piecer, which my parents let me take to college. I
didn't know the opera, and figured that eventually I'd hear Callas.

Along we're going, lots of singing, beautiful tenor aria, following the
words in translation as I go back and forth between Italian and English,
when all of a sudden, when I'm not looking at the words, I hear this
muffled sound from afar. I couldn't make out the words at all, but I
literally saw sparks fly before my eyes. The muffled sound repeated once
more, with more fire, and then came closer to the mike as I finally made
out the name, "Mario."

Oh my God, thought I. So that is Callas. I've never heard anything like
that before in my life.

Of course, I learned later on that the limpid coloratura of Lucia, or even
the frail little utterings of Mimi, were Callas. But it was those sparks,
that fire, heard on fairly primitive equipment, that revealed to me what
Callas alone could offer.

All of which is to say, yes, Bob, I hear you loud and clear. You can grok
Callas from lousy pressings through crappy speakers. And it is also to
acknowledge, in the same breath, that when I can hear Callas loud and
clearer without distortion - with all the grime and tinkering removed, and
all the nuance and subtleties of phrasing conveyed clearly - I can
appreciate even more all that she brought to music.

Time to walk the dogs and prepare for a day that starts with the Centrum
Acoustic Blues Festival and ends with Count Ory, as they call it, at
Seattle Opera. Enjoy the day, everyone.

jason



On Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 6:45 AM, robert levine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I understand, Jason, but still feel that Callas's art is one that can be
> "assessed" by listening to her in lo-fi, if that's all one has. Early on in
> my listening life, I got to understand and appreciate Callas through
> "private" recordings - snap, crackle and pop - and still realized how
> special she was/is. And yes, I own the whole new, restored set and there
> are some wonderful never-heard-before nuances, but they're bonuses, really,
> and not the main course. I ws also at her very last NY concert, with di
> Stefano - tragic, really - but got to hear that voice up close and
> untouched. What was left was just as potent, and still buzzes in my ears.
> Bob
>
> On Sat, Aug 6, 2016 at 12:32 AM, Jason Victor Serinus <[log in to unmask]
> > wrote:
>
>> I regret that you did not read my posting carefully, Bob. I specifically
>> said,
>>
>> "The only way to adequately assess
>> her commercial output is by referencing either the original LPs or the
>> latest, hi-res (24/96) remastering. All other CD transfers pale in
>> comparison... Most people on Opera-L, I realize, lack the ability to
>> play 24/96 files.
>> Getting the latest masterings on CD are your best alternative. All the
>> intervention of numerous previous sound engineers and producers is gone,
>> and what is left is as close as you're going to get. Depending upon the LP
>> pressing, some of these hi-rez masterings sound better than the original
>> LPs."
>>
>> Such a response, which directs people to the LPs and to the latest CD
>> pressings, is hardly snotty, uppity, or pitiable. In addition, my earlier
>> posts on the subject of hi-rez playback have made quite clear that for an
>> investment of under $300, one can easily play hi-rez files on any computer
>> equipped with a USB port and external speakers.
>>
>> jason victor serinus
>>
>> On Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 3:38 PM, robert levine <[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> Now there's a snotty response, Jason.
>>> Quite frankly, and since you cite the Sleepwalking scene, I'd like to
>>> say that it would be easy to hear her artistry, her brilliance, her
>>> involvement as well as every note, every diminuendo, every alteration of
>>> tone to suit the text, with absolute clarity if it were being played on the
>>> sinking Titanic.
>>> Forgive us poor slobs - even us critics - who don't have the material to
>>> listen to her on high-rez (24/96) and therefore cannot "adequately assess
>>> her commercial output."
>>> I've got them all - from LP on - and I never doubted a moment of that
>>> Sleepwalking Scene.
>>> Snotty, uppity and pitiable - that before your had your high rez you
>>> couldn't "adequately assess" poor Callas.
>>> Bob L
>>>
>>> On Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 5:56 PM, Jason Victor Serinus <
>>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>
>>>> For those who are going from memory, or who are refreshing their memory
>>>> by
>>>> visits to sonically compromised YouTube, the only way to adequately
>>>> assess
>>>> her commercial output is by referencing either the original LPs or the
>>>> latest, hi-res (24/96) remastering. All other CD transfers pale in
>>>> comparison. I play the 24/96 file of her Sleepwalking Scene from
>>>> *Macbeth *over
>>>> and over, and am never less than astounded at her artistry. Not only is
>>>> her
>>>> voice perfect for the role, but her timing and carefully judged, oft
>>>> subtle
>>>> emphases are incomparable.
>>>>
>>>> Most people on Opera-L, I realize, lack the ability to play 24/96 files.
>>>> Getting the latest masterings on CD are your best alternative. All the
>>>> intervention of numerous previous sound engineers and producers is gone,
>>>> and what is left is as close as you're going to get. Depending upon the
>>>> LP
>>>> pressing, some of these hi-rez masterings sound better than the original
>>>> LPs.
>>>>
>>>> jason victor serinus
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> ---
>>>> Jason Victor Serinus http://www.jasonserinus.com
>>>> Music and audiophile critic - Whistler Extraordinaire
>>>> **The Voice of Woodstock • The Pavarotti of Pucker**
>>>> "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
>>>>  --George Bernard Shaw
>>>> Now doing exactly that in Port Townsend, WA
>>>>
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>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> ---
>> Jason Victor Serinus http://www.jasonserinus.com
>> Music and audiophile critic - Whistler Extraordinaire
>> **The Voice of Woodstock • The Pavarotti of Pucker**
>> "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
>>  --George Bernard Shaw
>> Now doing exactly that in Port Townsend, WA
>>
>>
>


-- 
---
Jason Victor Serinus http://www.jasonserinus.com
Music and audiophile critic - Whistler Extraordinaire
**The Voice of Woodstock • The Pavarotti of Pucker**
"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
 --George Bernard Shaw
Now doing exactly that in Port Townsend, WA

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