Historic Performances: Maria Callas

Her big break occurred in an appearance in
Ponchielli’s La Gioconda in Verona.

This successful appearance (2 August 1947) under Serafin was the start of
her real career and she was soon in demand in Italian theatres for such heavy
roles as Aida, Turandot, Isolde, Kundry and Br¸nnhilde. A rare versatility
was shown in Venice in 1949 when, only three days after singing a
Walk¸re Br¸nnhilde, she deputized for an indisposed colleague in the
florid bel canto role of Elvira in Bellini’s I puritani.
Thereafter, under the guidance of Serafin, she gradually relinquished her
heavier roles in order to concentrate on the earlier Italian operas. Besides
adding to her repertory Bellini’s Amina, Donizetti’s Lucia and
Verdi’s Leonora (Il trovatore), Violetta and Gilda, she was in
constant demand whenever rare and vocally taxing operas of the older school
were produced, such as Haydn’s L’anima del filosofo (in
its world premiËre, 1951, Florence), Gluck’s Alceste and
IphigÈnie en Tauride, Cherubini’s MÈdÈe,
Spontini’s La vestale, Rossini’s Armida and
Il turco in Italia, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena and
Poliuto, and Bellini’s Il pirata. Her greatest
triumphs were won as Norma, Medea, Anne Boleyn, Lucia, Verdi’s Lady Macbeth
and Violetta, and Tosca. Many of these roles she repeated in the major opera
houses of the world, where her fame reached a level that recalled the careers
of Caruso and Chaliapin.

[Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Callas [Kalogeropoulou], (Cecilia Sophia Anna)
, Grove Music Online]

Her career proved to be a succession of triumphs and controversies,
perhaps the most famous incident being her so-called “firing” by Rudolph Bing
in 1958 . Vocal difficulties and personal disappointments ultimately led to
the end of her career. Her last public performance occurred in Sapporo,
Japan, in 1974.

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Wikipedia’s more detailed biography


    Lucia di Lamermoor
  2. BELLINI: Norma — Roma 1955
  3. BELLINI: Il Pirata — New York 1959
  4. VERDI: Un ballo in maschera — La Scala 1957
  5. VERDI: La Traviata — Lisbon 1958
  6. ROSSINI: Armida — Firenze 1952
  7. PUCCINI: Tosca — Mexico City 1952
  8. BELLINI: La sonnambula — La Scala 1957
  9. CHERUBINI: Medea — La Scala 1961
  10. ROSSINI: Il Barbiere di Siviglia — La Scala 1956

image_description=Maria Callas as Violetta (1956)