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Subject: Re: Callas' Recorded Roles (was Re: Andrea Chenier - Callas/ Del Monaco)
From: Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mike Leone <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 9 Jul 2018 16:22:15 +0000

text/plain (51 lines)

 Hello all--
I'm always glad to read positive comments about the Callas studio Medea, and I believe that Mr. Padillo has praised that recording on this listserv before.  After some initial difficulty in adjusting my ears to the sound--which seemed very thin to me at one point, although different remasterings have ameliorated that problem somewhat--I have found that to be a wonderful recording, up there with her other 1957 recordings, Barbiere, Sonnambula, Turandot and Manon Lescaut (I'm going from memory here but I think that is correct; no promises as to the correct order of the recordings).  I find her voice compact and well-used throughout, with plenty of intensity and bite.  I would take this recording over any of her other surviving Medea performances, even the Dallas.  It's a shame that Ardoin repeated the received opinion of this recording in his book; but then again, he didn't care for Vestale as an opera either, another opinion with which I strenuously disagree.  He said that she was "apart from, rather than a part of" the drama, or words to that effect, in this Medea.  I don't hear that in a single measure of her music, and all of the other singers are also quite wonderful, especially Mirto Picchi throughout the opera and Miriam Pirazzini as well, especially in that beautiful aria in Act II.  And I find that cover one of the top camp covers in the history of opera on LP, along with the Moffo Thaïs, the Fleming Armida, and of course the Nilsson Salome.  Not that that is a bad thing...
When I was a senior in high school, my English teacher asked if somebody would give a report on myths in opera, and I volunteered.  I'm sure the poor guy expected a five-minute (at most) summary, but I came with a full 50-minute presentation, complete with three recorded excerpts.  I didn't realize it then, but I used three of the most universally derided opera recordings of all time, the Stevens/Monteux Orfeo for "Che farò senza Euridice," the out-of-print (and thus one of my most prized possessions) Oslo Götterdämmerung for Flagstad and Svanholm in the dawn duet, and this Medea (via its Everest reissue) for "De' tuoi figli la madre."  The opinions of the Götterdämmerung finally seem to be rising a bit, but the overall opinions of the other two recordings are still lingering there in the dust bin.
As long as I'm here, rather than using a second post, I might as well add that I absolutely adore Fedora, and have ever since I heard it for the first time, back in the summer of 1970 when that glorious recording with Olivero, del Monaco, and Gobbi came out.  Somebody, Stefan Zucker I believe, said that this recording was the last emotionally important recording of an Italian opera, or something like that.  I certainly agree with him, and that recording sold me on that opera from day one.  There is another Giordano opera which I find quite stupendous, although I still confess to a slight preference for Fedora, even if the final duet in that other opera is unsurpassed just about anywhere.  I won't name the other opera out of fear of being flamed off of this list.  Then again, I am an unashamed admirer of Esclarmonde.  I'm not saying that anybody else here doesn't make up his or her own mind about things, and I can certainly say for myself that I have never paid much attention to "received opinions."
Mike Leone
[log in to unmask] il Leone!

    On ‎Thursday‎, ‎July‎ ‎05‎, ‎2018‎ ‎02‎:‎54‎:‎21‎ ‎PM, G. Paul Padillo <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  
 I recall reading a while back, much of what Max Paley (and others) have 
written about regarding the Callas/Legge issues over their respective 
careers with EMI, and in my interest/obsession with the Cherubini opera, 
recall reading WHY the Mercury sounded so different from the 3 mic 
recording, which I was fascinated by.  Years, later, I was similarly 
fascinated learning about Telarc’s minimal usage of mics – often enormous 
works simply using 2 or 3 microphones, strategically placed and the 
explosive “live” results.  

Some complain about it, probably with better ears than I, but for whatever 
it’s worth, the Mercury Living Presence “Medea” with Callas, et al., is 
among my favorite recordings of any opera.  It certainly had a “life,” indeed a genuine 
indeed a genuine “living presence” to it I couldn’t hitherto recall in my then-limited operatic listening experience.  The duets with Mirto Picchi crackle with life and spirit and the La Scala band play like demons possessed, the attack from the strings, particularly hair raising.  Everything about this recording for me as a kid 
limited operatic listening experience.  The duets with Mirto Picchi crackle 
with life and spirit and the La Scala band play like demons possessed, the 
attack from the strings, particularly hair raising.  Everything about this 
recording for me as a kid – and still as an (ahem) grown up, represents 
what I love about opera the most:  the crazy combination of beauty, 
dramatic excitement, expert music-making, and the “teetering on the brink 
of madness” quality that frequently goes hand-in-hand with the greatest of tr
treasures .

As to the cover; it, too, remains one of the all time great classics.  
Dangerous creature this Medea, not to be – you know – yeah, that!  Here 
she is folks, step right up and meet this li'l beauty!


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