Maria Callas is the quintessential diva who changed the face of the opera in the 20th century. The repertoire in this performance shows Callas at her best, both in recital and as an operatic actress. Verdi, Rossini, and Be... more »llini were three composers at the heart of Maria Callas's career. Her personal life was of tragic operatic dimensions and perhaps no role comes closer to the essence of Callas than Floria Tosca. The second half to the program comprises the complete Act 2 of this opera, with a brilliant performance by Tito Gobbi in the role of Scarpia. A genuine collector's item, this live recording documents Callas's Paris debut at the peak of her career. Also included is documentary footage about the performance and the opera house. 91 minutes.« less
George Khelashvili | Chicago, IL United States | 10/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's so unfortunate and unfare, that there is no full opera recording featuring legendary diva, Maria Callas. What is available on VHS or DVD is just several concerts and fully staged II act from "Tosca" (two versions, this one and later one, 1964). I love all these concerts, every one is special for some particular reason. This one opens with "Casta Diva", from "Norma", which was Maria's one of the favourite roles and she sings it so well, so effortless, with such musical beauty. Then comes amazing performance of "Una poco", which I love the most on this DVD. It seems to me that Callas is not singing at all, her mouth opens the way as if she is just talking, even on the high C she stays so calm and so effortless. In my opinion Callas shouldn't have sung havier roles, which eventually ruined her beautiful voice, however I understand that singer always wants to achieve more. Although Callas voice was exactly right for belcanto singing and this aria is vivid example. The next on the DVD is Trovatore, aria followed by Miserere from last act. As I sad, Callas shouldn't have sung such dramatic roles, however this particular extract sound perfect.
And finally comes Tosca, II act, fully staged, whith Tito Gobbi. It is so amazing to watch just what these two greatest artist do on the stage, it is really unbelievable. If I compare this Tosca to 1964 version, I should say, Callas is better on this DVD, while Gobbi sounds better on 1964 recording for me. In whole, "Toujours" is must have, Callas was so great, true opera lover must not miss the chance to get her live recording."
CALLAS MESMERIZES IN BLACK AND WHITE
S. Holmes | Wilmette, IL United States | 07/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There remain only a handful of videos of Maria Callas in performance. This Paris, 1958 debut is one of the most important, compelling, and satisfying. The evening begins with three operatic selections in concert: from NORMA, Casta Diva; from IL TROVATORE, D'amor sull-ali rosee and the subsequent Miserere, and from BARBER OF SEVILLE, Una Voce Poco Fa. These are all performed with deep insight and characterization that one would expect of a fully staged and complete opera performance. The gestures, facial expressions and attitudes that Callas uses, telegraph to the viewer immediately why this woman was and is still today a one of a kind genius of vocal and visual dramatic expression. No one with the possible exception of Renata Scotto has begun to achieve the total involvement and commitment on stage which seemed to be second nature to Callas. Some may quibble about her voice and although admittedly in good voice, this evening finds Callas in slightly less pristine voice than I'm sure she would have wished on such an important occasion. However, after the Bellini, Callas seems at her vocal best with more vocal flashes of color and changes of mood than one can imagine in any present day singer. For example, just try and imagine anyone today jumping from the dramatic suffering of Leonora's Misere to the coy, capricious and comic coloratura roulades of Rosina's aria in a matter of minutes, as Callas does with total success. After this first half of the evening is over, we are treated to the complete and fully staged second act of Puccini's TOSCA -- with nonother than Tito Gobbi in the role of Scarpia. Although costumed and quaffed rather dubiously, Callas gives a totally authoritative performance by which all others should be judged. What a shame no footage of an Act I or Act III exists. (Another Act II from Covent Garden in 1964 exists and will be released shortly on EMI DVD.) Admittedly, this video is from 1958 and in Black and White, so don't expect to be stunned by visual quality. DO expect to be stunned by WHAT you are watching rather than the quality of the actual telecast. Enough praise cannot be given to EMI for releasing this concert, her Hamburg concerts from 1959 and 1962 and the upcoming Convent Garden material from 1962 and 1964. Collect them all; listen, watch and learn."
Discover Maria Callas
Kethryn Alexander | hawaii | 06/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the available visual samples available of Maria Callas this is the best and most loyal. In this peformance we are treated to some of Callas' most famous arias with dramatic changes in character and musical style. We begin with the bel canto treat of selections from Norma- Callas' famous "Casta Diva". Unfortunately the chorus who sings with her is horrible and off time which detracts from an otherwise perfect experience. No one was able to match the sheer expressiveness and fluid phrasing of Callas in this arena. Next selections from Il Trovatore are dramatic and again showcase the amazing phrasing which no other artist has been able to match. Leonora is shown to us as a living breathing person rather than just some pretty arias and a chance to showcase vocal beauty. Callas may not deliver the full throated beauty of other singers in this role, but you will never find a more fully developed and well phrased character in a role which was meant to be acted- not showcased for vocal fireworks. Then, she switches yet again into the comic light coluratura of Rosina's aria from the Barber of Seville. This was an aria she often performed in recital- yet rarely was she ever in such good voice as in this presentation. One overly eager fan began to shout brava in the middle of her aria while others shushed him. By far the highlight though is the staged preformance of act 2 of Tosca with Tito Gobbi. If you have ever heard Callas' Tosca then I need not comment of the genius she brought to this role. The greatest highlight of which is her Vissi D'arte which I dare you to sit dry eyed through. Her magnificent voice and unmatched vocal expression milk that aria for all it's worth. It is a shame that we weren't able to see Callas ealier when her voice was fuller and in richer bloom- but here we have her in fine voice and her usual dramatic perfection which she only achieved later in her career- this DVD is well worth it- discover La Divina today!"
Excellent addition to a Callas collection
kiwimommy | NYC | 07/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What I have enjoyed the most is watching the contrasts of this performance to the Callas Covent Garden video recording. Here, Callas is at her glamourous best. For example, the TOSCA in this recording presents a coutured diva whose dramatics are down a notch from the CG performance. Vocally, I think she is better here - but dramatically, the CG performance is superior.
I am glad to have this, if only to compare the two performances of ACT II TOSCA. It is also an excellent lesson in the grace and deportment of a true opera star. Such style! Such expression! (The concert portion of this is similar to the Hamburg recording.)"
Callas at her best
David R. St Germain | pawtucket, ri USA | 08/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Despite some edgy high notes this Paris gala finds Callas at her best. The challenging program alternates between lyric and dramatic arias with several moments justifing this as a must have dvd. The descending scale at the end of the Casta Diva is uniquely Callas-no one sings like this. The Act two of Tosca is phenomenal especially the Vissi D'arte aria. When Callas sinks to her knees at the aria's end and you hear all Paris applaud it's as if you're in the audience."