Opera Singer Maria Callas Complete Studio Recordings Now Remastered
Warner Classics presents the most ambitious and extensive project ever undertaken in the name of the Maria Callas catalogue: a groundbreaking remastered edition of her complete recordings.
For the first time this century, a team of world-class sound engineers at London's Abbey Road Studios - where Callas herself recorded - returned to her original master tapes to bring previously unimaginable clarity and depth to the legacy of the most iconic opera star of all time.
A new authoritative Box Set
The complete Maria Callas edition comprises a lavish boxed set of 39 newly remastered studio recordings (totalling 69 discs) from 1949 to 1969 - each with the original sleeve art preserved.
All 39 albums, from Callas' earliest wax recordings on Cetra, will be available individually as well as within the boxed set.
Finally, the new single-disc collection Pure will draw together highlights of the remastered edition, showcasing the previously unattainable quality of sound that can now be experienced in Callas' most beloved arias.
Although Maria Callas died, aged just 53, as long ago as September 1977, she remains an icon: as a supreme singing - actress; as a celebrity, and as a woman of great style and elegance. The epitome of the operatic diva, the American-born Greek soprano is recognised as a singer who defined, and even redefined opera in the 20th century and she has never lost her place among the world's top-selling classical artists. With the release of CALLAS REMASTERED: The Complete Studio Recordings, opera lovers will now be able to hear her as never before.
Warner Classics is now the guardian of Maria Callas' official recorded catalogue, and this 69-CD deluxe box set contains all the studio recordings that she made for both EMI/Columbia and the Italian label Cetra between 1949 and 1969. Each recording has been painstakingly remastered in 24-bit/96kHz sound at Abbey Road Studios using the original tapes, on Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond speakers, and the entire collection has been curated with the greatest of care. The 26 complete operas and 13 recital albums contained in the box will also be made available as separate releases.
Conceived as a true collector's edition, CALLAS REMASTERED presents each individual opera or recital CD in its original artwork. It also contains a 136-page hard-back book with essays, a biography and chronology, rarely-seen photos and reproductions of revealing letters written by Maria Callas, Walter Legge and other EMI executives. The opera librettos and aria texts are provided on a CD-ROM. The box set and the individual operas and recitals will be available at mid-price.
Maria Callas was born to a Greek family in New York in 1923. Her vocal training took place in Athens, where her teacher was the coloratura soprano Elvira de Hidalgo, who had sung with Enrico Caruso and Feodor Chaliapin. After early performances in Greece, Callas' international career was launched in 1947 when she performed the title role in Ponchielli's La Gioconda at the Arena di Verona in Italy.
Her voice defied simple classification and her artistic range was extraordinary. In her early twenties she sang such heavy dramatic roles as Gioconda, Turandot, Brünnhilde and Isolde, but over the course of her career her most famous roles came to be: Bellini's Norma and Amina (La sonnambula); Verdi's Violetta (La traviata); Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena, Cherubini's Medea and Puccini's Tosca. Though her timbre was not always conventionally beautiful, Callas' musicianship and phrasing were in a class of their own. She brought characters to vivid life with her skill in colouring her tone and making insightful use of the text. She is credited with changing the history of opera: by placing a perhaps unprecedented emphasis on musical integrity and dramatic truth, and by transforming perceptions - and reviving the fortunes - of the bel canto repertoire, particularly Bellini and Donizetti.
The 1950s marked the height of Callas' career. Its base lay in the opera houses of Italy, and she became the prima donna assoluta of Milan's legendary La Scala - notably in the productions of Luchino Visconti - but her operatic appearances also encompassed London's Royal Opera House, the New York Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opéra, the Vienna State Opera, and the opera houses of Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Lisbon, and, in the early 1950s, Mexico City, São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. From 1959, when she started a life-changing love affair with the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, her performing career slowed down and her voice became more fragile. Her final stage performances came in 1965, when she was only 42.