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Callas: The Voice, The Story.

Despite rumors to the contrary, genuine stars are made. not born. And no star of recent memory shaped herself so heroically as the late Greek-American soprano Maria Callas. She died--many acquaintances have said of a broken heart--20 years ago last September, and although many singers have taken her roles, none has yet taken her place. Her last American stage performance was in 1965, yet she continues to define the transcendence and glamour of the operatic experience for millions.

But who was the real woman behind the controversy? In Callas: The Voice, The Story, a new four-CD set (also available on audiocassette), the singer reveals much of the truth behind the headlines that followed her every move over three decades. The package began as a 1988 National Public Radio documentary written by John Ardoin and narrated by Michael Wager. To the original interviews and reminiscences, Wager has added dozens of rare live-performance highlights, almost none of them duplicating Callas's extensive (and recently remastered) EMI Classics commercial discography. You can hear Callas in a 1935 broadcast of radio's Major Bowes Amateur Hour (she lost), listen to the legendary E-flat from a 1951 Mexico City Aida triumphal scene, sample her collaborations with conductors Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein, and weep at a 1958 London production of La Traviata, during which the soprano achieves what sounds very much like an out-of-body experience.

The interviews are equally riveting. Callas discusses her feud with her mother, describes her apprenticeship years in wartime Greece, explains why she had no rivals, rebuffs idiotic reporters, analyzes her preparation of various roles, defends her departure from the Met, and, in an unguarded moment as poignant as any of her stage heroines, voices her despair after her rejection by Aristotle Onassis. There's no attempt at debunking here. The Callas myth emerges illuminated and untarnished.
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Author:Ulrich, Allan
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Dec 23, 1997
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