Maria Callas: A Musical Biography

Maria Callas: A Musical Biography

by Robert Levine
     
 

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This unique, photo-filled musical biography includes two CDs with nearly three hours of landmark performances by the great diva, accompanied by expert commentary.

Here is a true artistic biography, focusing on Maria Callas's musical development, her influence, her critical reception—and the specific qualities that have made her a legend for our time. The

Overview

This unique, photo-filled musical biography includes two CDs with nearly three hours of landmark performances by the great diva, accompanied by expert commentary.

Here is a true artistic biography, focusing on Maria Callas's musical development, her influence, her critical reception—and the specific qualities that have made her a legend for our time. The book features scores of photographs from throughout Callas's life and career, including many rare production photos. The CDs, featuring key recordings from throughout her career, are keyed to detailed discussions of the performances, making Callas's work accessible and enjoyable to beginners as well as die-hard opera afficionados. Selections include Bellini's "Casta Diva" (Norma), Rossini's "Una voce poco fa" (II barbiere di Siviglia), Puccini's "Vissi d'arte" (Tosca), Gounod's "Ah! Je veux vivre" (Romeo et Juliette), Verdi's "Caro nome" (Rigoletto), Massenet's "Adieu, notre petite table" (Manon), Bizet's "Pres de remparts de Seville" (Carmen), Spontini's "O Nume tutelar" (La vestale) and many more.

A discography, a chronology, a complete performance history, and more make this the ultimate book for learning about and loving opera and one of its greatest stars.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
There has probably been more subliterate gush published about Maria Callas than any other musician; her very name seems to incite a sort of glandular hysteria. It is a pleasure, then, to turn to Robert Levine's Maria Callas: A Musical Biography, which treats this very serious artist with the seriousness she deserves. It is a book aimed at both the professional and the lay listener, and it is accompanied by two compact discs that trace the Callas career in considerable detail. — Tim Page
Library Journal
The literature on opera singer Maria Callas grows larger still with these two books. Levine (The Story of the Orchestra) treats the diva's life, artistry, and performances in a breezy, enthusiastic style for the general reader, with little musical background assumed. A glossary, chronology, performance history, discography, and index round out the volume. Some of the most attractive features are Levine's explanations of bel canto and other singing styles, the production photographs, and the in-depth descriptions of each recorded selection, including texts in the original and English translation. The accompanying CDs include some of Callas's greatest interpretations, along with some lesser-known items. In some cases, these are extraordinary, while others leave much to be desired; it's hard to tell whether the reproduction process diminished the quality or Callas was just having an off day. The lack of documentation is distressing, especially as the Callas biography field is already crowded, and it is hard to say much new at this point. However, the combination of text and audio at a bargain price is a winning one, and Levine's title will be especially welcome in smaller collections with limited resources. Overlapping with Levine's book (they even share some photographs), Hanine-Roussel's coffee table book-like compilation of photographs of Callas and her milieu is a praiseworthy albeit not entirely successful effort. Writing in English, French, and Italian, he covers almost all of her roles in opera or concert and also features shots of her in social settings, with minimal captions allowing the photographs (credited to several persons) to speak for themselves. An introductory essay tracing her life sets the tone, as do a few reminiscences by singers and a Callas fan club organizer, which begin promisingly but soon turn into laudatory blurbs for the author. Other drawbacks include some poor translations into English and Hanine-Roussel's unfortunate insistence on using unflattering portraits of Callas to illustrate her weight fluctuations and other challenges. Even some photos from her more svelte periods depict her scowling or frowning; in addition, her compatriots are often not at their best-an effect perhaps intended to add to the candid nature of the enterprise but which is ultimately off-putting. The best parts are the performance photographs showing elaborate costumes and settings and those demonstrating the evolution of styles from the 1930s to the 1970s. Hanine-Roussel's volume is not an essential purchase, although photography, costume, or fashion/style collections and Callas completists will benefit.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781579122836
Publisher:
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
05/06/2003
Edition description:
Teacher's Edition, Instructor's Manual,
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
8.24(w) x 9.42(h) x 0.88(d)

Meet the Author

Author Robert Levine is an internationally known music and travel writer whose work has appeared in dozens of publications. He was the co-editor of Records' Classical Pulse! Magazine, helped launch and was the Senior Editor-in-chief of Andante.com, a world wide web site devoted to every aspect of classical music and musicians. He attends his operas and symphonies in New York.

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