Maria Callas gives an outstanding performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. This is unsurprising as Callas was one of the most famous sopranos of her time and a recognised Diva. The Newspaper review is gushing in praise of Callas who gives a powerful and convincing performance.
It is noted that the reviewer had some reservations on a previous performance but the performance of Violetta in La Traviata left the reviewer in no doubt that Callas gave a performance that was the best interpretation he had ever witnessed in all his time attending and reviewing operas.
The performance as Viloletta is a more congenial part than previously seen by the reviewer and it has so much passion and personal interpretation that it is difficult to distinguish between the dramatic and vocal performances. The whole performance seems real and the acting and singing become one, the perfect operatic qualities. The words in an opera can seem disjointed and difficult to express when read without music and it is Callas who brings the script and plot alive by sewing all the parts together to make an outstanding dramatic performance in conjunction with the musical performance by the orchestra..
She still had the slight wobble in her voice which is evident on the CD in some places, for example at 1:19 and 02:00 when the singing becomes fortissimo. However her reputation as a performer was so great that her fans and the reviewer where able to forgive this perceived fault and even claim that it added to the intensity of her performance. It shows emotion in the voice and this adds to the tragic quality of the roles often played by female opera singers.
The CD shows a wide range of singing from the initial pianissimo start and the pizzicato accompaniment from the string section building up to 1:13 when Callas builds to an ornament at 1:19. The whole performance is very smooth and displays and you can hear the passion in Callas’ voice when she expresses her feelings.
The reviewer mentions her striking presence which is an important part of opera throughout the world. Callas’ presence was reinforced by her status as a Diva and her reputation was worldwide. She had performed for the previous 7 years at La Scala in Milan to triumphant reviews and had gained publicity 4 years earlier when her appearance changed dramatically having lost 30 kilos in weight. She was married to a prominent businessman and Opera lover and was on the verge of starting a relationship with a world famous shipping magnate. Callas was portrayed as a Diva in much the same way as someone like Madonna is today and the public interest in her life only served to fuel her presence and reputation on the stage.
Opera is performance on a grand scale so much so that opera venues are some of the grandest, most iconic and well recognised places in the world, for example the Sydney Opera House. Those who succeed in such an environment must be larger than life personalities.
Maria Callas was certainly a Diva and her life was followed and reported by fans and the press alike. Her life was lived in the glare of publicity and even though she led a private life following her retirement in 1965 she still attracted great interest when she made public appearances. It is easy to see the appeal of her character and that many people liked to think of her as a tragic heroine due to difficult events in her life. In many ways this mirrored the Operatic roles she played with so much conviction it sometimes blurred the boundaries between reality and performance.