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Maria Callas

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Guardian

January 30

Facing the music: Joyce El-Khoury

GuardianThe Lebanese-Canadian soprano - currently winning rave reviews for her Violetta at the Royal Opera House - loves the Bee Gees, Maria Callas and MassenetVinyl or digital? As a modern gal, I find that the digital medium is the most convenient. I am constantly on the road and appreciate the practical and immediate nature of it. However, does anything compare to the sound of a vinyl record? I think not. My favourite song is one that was sung by my grandfather George when I was growing up and sung by my father now. It’s called “Rah halfak bel ghosn ya asfour” and was originally sung by Wadih El-Safi, who was known as “Frank Sinatra of Lebanon”. It is a gorgeous song which evokes great nostalgia for me. I found a recording of it on iTunes, and it appears to have been taken directly from a vinyl – the crackling sounds on the recording make me even more nostalgic. Continue reading...

Guardian

January 5

Georges Prêtre obituary

Conductor who forged a special partnership with Maria Callas in his 70-year careerWhen Georges Prêtre, who has died aged 92, conducted the opening bars of his first opera, Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila, they were disturbed by rustling sweet papers. He turned on the offenders with a loud “Non!”, broke his baton in two and hurled the pieces into the audience. This led to a renewal of his contract and, in 1950, to marriage with the opera house director’s daughter, Gina Marny.This debut came at the Marseille Opera in 1946. He was still directing the Vienna Philharmonic in its New Year concerts in 2008 and 2010, and in Paris in 2013. Continue reading...




Royal Opera House

January 5

Remembering conductor Georges Prêtre (1924–2017)

French conductor Georges Prêtre (1924–2017) has died. Prêtre made his Royal Opera debut in 1965 when he was engaged to conduct the first revival of Franco Zeffirelli ’s historic production of Tosca . Prêtre conducted the cast of the original production – Maria Callas , Tito Gobbi and Renato Cioni – and his interpretation was hailed for its understanding of the score and his sympathetic coaxing of a clearly ill Callas in the title role. In fact, Callas only sang one of the four scheduled performances, a Royal Gala. This performance turned out to be her final operatic appearance. The Australian soprano Marie Collier – one of Covent Garden Opera Company’s resident artists – was rushed in to take over. Prêtre with great musical skill guided the young soprano through the demands of the role, both musically and dramatically, and joined the soprano for her rapturous reception at the end. They were given 14 on-stage curtain calls and won rave reviews. In 1980 Prêtre returned to conduct the premiere of Les Contes d’Hoffmann in John Schlesinger ’s acclaimed production. Prêtre accompanied the stellar cast – including Plácido Domingo , Geraint Evans , Agnes Baltsa and Ileana Cotrubas – with a rare and commanding authority. The Financial Times commented, ‘The orchestra were on admirably light-fingered form for Prêtre’, while The Observer wrote, ‘Prêtre conducts with warmth and vitality’. Hoffmann was soon established as one of The Royal Opera’s most popular productions and has been regularly revived. Prêtre returned in 1983 to conduct the first revival of Elijah Moshinsky ’s production of Samson et Dalila, with Jon Vickers and Shirley Verrett in the title roles. He had a genuine love of the Saint-Saëns score and brought a real vitality to the evening. Prêtre supported Vickers’s towering performance as Samson and The Times warmly greeted his conducting of the ‘beautifully soft choral singing and orchestral playing of endlessly versatile finesse’. Prêtre was recognized worldwide as an inspiring conductor. He enjoyed an exceptional rapport with Callas – both on stage and in the recording studio – and his musically assured appearances at Covent Garden in three epic productions make a fitting legacy.



Maria Callas
(1923 – 1977)

Maria Callas (December 2, 1923 - September 16, 1977) was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and great dramatic gifts. An extremely versatile singer, her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini; further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. Her remarkable musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina.



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