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Callas Sings Puccini


Release Date: 07/12/2013 
Label:  Regis   Catalog #: 1234   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria CallasLucia DanieliNicolai Gedda
Conductor:  Tullio SerafinHerbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in:   
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc is a compilation of nine arias recorded separately and originally issued as a Puccini recital-LP. To this are added quite extensive excerpts from the complete Madama Butterfly. Of all these operas Callas sang only two on stage: Turandot 25 times in 1948-1949 and 3 performances of Madama Butterfly in Chicago in November 1955, i.e. after this recording was made. But hearing her in these arias and scenes one can’t imagine that these were merely studio creations. That was of course one of Callas’s secrets: her total identification with everything she did and her ability to find the right persona. One need only listen to a few bars of the first Manon Lescaut aria to hear this. Alright, even as early as 1954 her "ugly" vibrato Read more is becoming more apparent but one feels the personality, one realises through her timbre that Manon is only 17 years old – while in the voice of Tebaldi she is matronly and Albanese tells us that she is approaching 50. It is true that her acidity can be an irritant but is compensated for by so much involvement and by her ability to colour the voice.

The original recital takes us chronologically from Manon Lescaut to Turandot and within the operas the arias are also in chronological order. Her Mimi is a wonder of nuances, not as sweet as Victoria de los Angeles but just as believable. Maybe she was more a Musetta than a Mimi but these two arias are also telling evidence of her identification with a role that wasn’t a natural for her. Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi were even less typical Callas repertoire but she also invests these arias with her personality – not as beautiful as some colleagues but beauty is only a secondary quality with Callas. Her Turandot is regal and she has the ice as a natural ingredient in her voice, while Liú’s arias, especially the second one, seem like personal confessions.

The "bonus", which occupies approximately 50 % of the disc, comes in the form of substantial chunks from the complete Butterfly recording, where Karajan leads a pathos-filled performance from La Scala. In the great duet ending the first act Callas is partnered by Nicolaï Gedda, not very Italianate in timbre but an extremely impassioned and lyrical Pinkerton. This recording of the duet was actually my first contact with this opera, on an LP entitled "Callas in Duet" with extracts from several of her complete sets. Today, more than forty years later, every inflection of this reading is so indelibly etched into my memory. Maybe Gedda is too weak, too human a Pinkerton and Callas too worldly-wise a Butterfly – it should be the other way around – but still, after so many other outstanding versions, live or on disc, this is my touchstone. Un bel di, vedremo is sung with restraint and innocence and Karajan draws sensual playing from the La Scala forces. Callas and Lucia Danieli blend well in the Cherry Blossom Duet but on her own Danieli is a bit anonymous. In Butterfly’s Con onor muore, where all her hopes and dreams are finally proved to be shattered, Callas’s voice is at first drained of all tone, but then she holds no barriers and pours out all her despair with an intensity that hurts and is felt long after Pinkerton’s cries of Butterfly - too late! - and the last notes have died away.

All these arias, and the scenes from Butterfly, are of course classics and most Callas fans probably already have them in one format or other. Comparing this disc with my old LP pressings there was little difference in sound quality. This makes the CD a good buy – and cheap – for those who want to upgrade. Newcomers – and I hope this species is not yet extinct – could also with advantage start here.

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Manon Lescaut: In quelle trine morbide by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
2.
Manon Lescaut: Sola, perduta, abbandonata by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 5 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
3.
La Bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
4.
La Bohème: Donde lieta uscì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 3 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
5.
Suor Angelica: Senza mamma, o bimbo, tu sei morto by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
6.
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1918; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
7.
Turandot: Signore, ascolta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 2 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
8.
Turandot: In questa reggia by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 6 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
9.
Turandot: Tu, che di gel sei cinta by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Tullio Serafin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
10.
Madama Butterfly: Viene la sera...Bimba dagli occhi pieni by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Lucia Danieli (Mezzo Soprano), Maria Callas (Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 14 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Madama Butterfly: Vogliatemi bene." 
11.
Madama Butterfly: Vogliatemi bene...O quanti occhi fisi by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Lucia Danieli (Mezzo Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 14 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Madama Butterfly: Viene la sera...Bimba dagli occhi pieni." 
12.
Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì vedremo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 4 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
13.
Madama Butterfly: Che tua madre dovrà prenderti in braccio by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
14.
Madama Butterfly: Una nave da guerra by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Lucia Danieli (Mezzo Soprano), Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 7 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Madama Butterfly: Scuoti quella fronda "Flower Duet"." 
15.
Madama Butterfly: Scuoti quella fronda "Flower Duet" by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Lucia Danieli (Mezzo Soprano), Maria Callas (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 7 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Madama Butterfly: Una nave da guerra." 
16.
Madama Butterfly: Con onor muore by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Madama Butterfly: Tu, tu, piccolo iddio [Death of Butterfly]." 
17.
Madama Butterfly: Tu, tu, piccolo iddio [Death of Butterfly] by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Maria Callas (Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 5 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is part of a medley which also includes "Madama Butterfly: Con onor muore." 

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