maria callas verdi don carlo "tu che le vanita"





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Published on Nov 14, 2009

Maria Callas:
Vocal size and range
In the years prior to her weight loss, Callas's voice was a powerful soprano, the sheer size of which was much commented upon,[16] and there were no complaints about unsteadiness even in the most exposed passages.[8] In his review of Callas's 1951 live recording of I Vespri Siciliani, Ira Siff writes, "Accepted wisdom tells us that Callas possessed, even early on, a flawed voice, unattractive by conventional standards — an instrument that signaled from the beginning vocal problems to come. Yet listen to her entrance in this performance and one encounters a rich, spinning sound, ravishing by any standard, capable of delicate dynamic nuance. High notes are free of wobble, chest tones unforced, and the middle register displays none of the "bottled" quality that became more and more pronounced as Callas matured."[30] In a 1982 Opera News interview with Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge, Bonynge stated, "But before she slimmed down, I mean this was such a colossal voice. It just poured out of her, the way Flagstad's did... Callas had a huge voice. When she and Stignani sang Norma, at the bottom of the range you could barely tell who was who... Oh it was colossal. And she took the big sound right up to the top."[31] In his book, Michael Scott makes the distinction that whereas Callas's pre-1954 voice was a "dramatic soprano with an exceptional top", after the weight loss, it became, as one Chicago critic described the voice in Lucia,[16] a "huge suprano leggiero".[8] In performance, Callas's range was just short of three octaves, from F-sharp (F#3) below middle C (C4) heard in "Arrigo! Ah parli ad un core" from I Vespri Siciliani to E-natural (E6) above high C (C6), heard in the same opera as well as Rossini's Armida and Lakmé's Bell Song. After her June 11, 1951 concert in Florence, Rock Ferris of Musical Courier said, "Her high E's and F's are taken full voice."[16] In a French TV interview, Callas's teacher Elvira de Hidalgo spoke of her voice soaring to a high E, but did not mention the high F.[11] Although no definite recording of Callas singing high F's have surfaced, the presumed E-natural in her performance of Rossini's Armida —a poor-quality bootleg recording of uncertain pitch—has been referred to as a high F.[27]
[edit] Vocal registers

Callas's voice was noted by Walter Legge and other experts[27] for its three distinct registers. Her low or chest register was extremely dark and almost baritonal in power, and she used this part of her voice for dramatic effect, often going into this register much higher on the scale than most sopranos.[26] Her middle register had a peculiar and highly personal sound—"part oboe, part clarinet", as Claudia Cassidy described it[14]—and was noted for its veiled or "bottled" sound, as if she were singing into a jug.[26] Walter Legge attributed this sound to the "extraordinary formation of her upper palate, shaped like a Gothic arch, not the Romanesque arch of the normal mouth".[26] The upper register was ample and bright, with an impressive extension above high C, which—in contrast to the light flute-like sound of the typical coloratura soprano—she sang with the same full-throated sound as her lower registers.[14] And as she demonstrated in the finale of La Sonnambula on the commercial EMI set and the live recording from Cologne, she was able to execute a diminuendo on the stratospheric high E-flat, which Scott describes as "a feat unrivaled in the history of the gramophone."[8]

The agility of Callas's voice allowed her to sing difficult ornate music with ease and technical polish. In the words of Walter Legge, even in the most difficult florid music, there were no musical or technical difficulties "which she could not execute with astonishing, unostentatious ease. Her chromatic runs, particularly downwards, were beautifully smooth and staccatos almost unfailingly accurate, even in the trickiest intervals. There is hardly a bar in the whole range of nineteenth century music for high soprano that seriously tested her powers."[26] As part of her technical arsenal, Callas also possessed a beautiful and dependable trill in every vocal register.[32]

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