MARIA CALLAS: The Art behind the Legend by Henry Wisneski

MARIA CALLAS: The Art behind the Legend

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For serious Callas admirers, not gossip collectors, who want methodically arranged information, not a lot of gushings and bravos. We were unable to see the 153 photographs, some of them apparently quite rare, documenting Callas' performances from her first appearances in wartime Greece (she was in her teens when she started singing in public) to the 1974 tour with di Stefano. The main body of the text is systematically arranged by opera, which has both advantages and drawbacks--it breaks up the development of the soprano's career but permits you to poke around looking for particular roles. Wisneski briefly summarizes Callas' major appearances in each role, quoting critical reaction and occasionally mentioning a colorful circumstance or two (e.g., the Mexico City Lucia broadcast where, because the microphone had been placed too close to the prompter, parts of the Mad Scene ""nearly became a duet""). But his purpose is to document rather than to describe; he forgoes rhapsodical accounts of the Callas voice and style and limits himself to an occasional detail about tone quality or articulation of words. Not a full-scale biography, but it doesn't aim to be; it's a useful tool without pretensions. The accompanying apparatus includes a chronology of live and commercially recorded performances with complete cast listings, and a discography of pirated or noncommercial recordings.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1975
Publisher: Doubleday