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Maria Callas – Mad Scenes (2014) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Maria Callas – Mad Scenes (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 47:30 | 945 MB | Genre: Classical, Opera
Official Digital Download – Source:  | Digital Booklet , Front Cover | © Warner Classics
Recorded: 24–25.IX.1958, Kingsway Hall, London

Callas had already triumphed at La Scala with Anna Bolena and Il pirata (the first real success of Bellini’s early career) in 1958. She wanted to record both works complete, but the producer Walter Legge was not convinced that either was marketable and persuaded the soprano to settle for their final scenes – which he believed to contain the essence of both pieces. Callas followed his judgement. ‘We are the only two people who know what bel canto is,’ she was to tell Legge years later when attempting to persuade him to share the platform at her Juilliard masterclasses. Posthumously she was to get her wish when EMI took into its catalogue a live broadcast of each opera from La Scala.

For this recital’s mixed repertoire Callas insisted (as she would for several similar ventures) on being accompanied by the Italian-American conductor Nicola Rescigno, with whom she had been working regularly since a Chicago Norma in 1954. Rescigno was an adventurous editor of opera scores for concerts and records. His cuts and tightenings helped Anna’s ‘mad scene’ to work dramatically and musically when shorn of the rest of the opera. He also rehearsed particularly with the Philharmonia’s cor anglais on the long solo which opens the cavatina, work in which Callas enthusiastically joined.
The Hamlet scena – which had long featured in Callas’s concerts in Italian – was added to the programme, now in French as a preview of the new (and more mezzo-ish) repertoire that the soprano was beginning to consider. All three of the central figures in the recital – Donizetti’s Anna, BeIlini’s Imogene and Thomas’s Ophélie – share aspects of the character that most fascinated Callas in her stage work. They are women who are on the verge, not so much of madness but of being pushed by men they love (or who have power over them) into a state of being unable to live any more. –MIKE ASHMAN, 2014

Gaetano Donizetti 1797–1848
Anna Bolena (Romani)
1 Piangete voi?…Al dolce guidami castel natio (Act II) 19.58
Ambroise Thomas 1811–1896
Hamlet (Barbier & Carre)
2 À vos jeux…Partagez-vous mes fleurs…Et maintenant, écoutez ma chanson (Act IV) 10.24
Vincenzo Bellini 1801–1835
Il pirata (Romani)
3 Oh! s’io potessi…Col sorriso d’innocenza (Act II) 17.10

Maria Callas soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus
Nicola Rescigno
Monica Sinclair contralto
John Lanigan tenor
Joseph Rouleau bass
Duncan Robertson tenor


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