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Birth of a Diva – Legendary Early Recordings of Maria Callas (APE)

Performer: Maria Callas, Arturo Basile, Antonino Votto
Composer: Giuseppe Verdi, Amilcare Ponchielli, Richard Wagner, Vincenzo Bellini
Orchestra: Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Rhino
Size: 241 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 1 “Libiam ne’ lieti calici” [Alfredo, Chorus, Violetta]
02. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 1 “Un dì, felice, eterea” [Alfredo, Violetta, Gastone]
03. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 1 “E’ Strano!…E’ Strano!…” [Violetta]
04. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 1 “Ah, fors’è lui che l’anima” [Violetta]
05. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 1 “Follie! … Sempre libera” [Violetta, Alfredo]
06. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 2 “Dammi tu forza, o cielo… Amami Alfredo” [Violetta, Annina, Alfredo]
07. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 3 “Teneste la promessa… La disfida” [Violetta]
08. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 3 “Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti” [Violetta, Chorus]
09. Verdi : La Traviata : Act 3 “Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremoi” [Alfredo, Violetta]
10. Ponchielli : La Gioconda : Act 2 “E’ un anatema!” [Gioconda, Laura]
11. Ponchielli : La Gioconda : Act 2 “L’amo come il fulgor del creato” [Gioconda, Laura]
12. Ponchielli : La Gioconda : Act 3 “O madre mia” [Gioconda]
13. Ponchielli : La Gioconda : Act 4 “Suicidio !…In questi fieri momenti” [Gioconda]
14. Ponchielli : La Gioconda : Act 4 “Ora posso morir” [Gioconda, Barnaba]
15. Wagner : Tristan und Isolde : Act 3 “Mild und leise” [Isolde]
16. Bellini : Norma : Act 1 “Casta diva” [Norma]
17. Bellini : Norma : Act 1 “Ah! bello a me ritorna” [Norma]
18. Bellini : I Puritani : Act 2 “O, rendetemi la speme” [Elvira]
19. Bellini : I Puritani : Act 2 “Qui la voce sua soave” [Elvira]
20. Bellini : I Puritani : Act 2 “Vien, diletto, è in ciel la luna” [Elvira]

The Thrill of the Earliest Callas!

The only studio recording of Maria Callas in La Traviata, complete, was made in the Rai Auditorium, Turin, on September 15-20, 1953. Even though this precedes the earliest use of the new, to come shortly, stereo recording technology, here the voice is well captured with the orchestral performing accompaniment being less emphatic than would be in the newer medium. This gives us a thrilling experience of the Callas voice at it’s most beautiful period. There is a brightness that diminishes in her later years as the voice darkens. The first studio recording of a complete opera by Callas was in this same auditorium one year prior, September 6-10, 1952, La Gioconda. Again no stereo, but, the Callas voice was also especially well captured. There is also one Wagner selection here, the Liebestod, sung in Italian, not German. We do know that Callas sang some Wagner in her early years, but, did not continue to do so. Program notes state that the Wagner and Bellini selections were done on November 8-10, 1949, her first official recordings. Callas became revered for her Norma performances, we have her first recorded Casta Diva on this CD. Along with the I Puritani we can understand her being credited with the restoration of bel canto.

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