on 25 January 2008
I am still in shock at the great value for money this collection offers.
There are 25, yes 25, full operas, plus several other CDs. The quality is superb, and though the presentation may be no frills, who cares! This collection really does deserve a home with any Callas afficionada - at this price take it and enjoy
on 22 October 2007
To quote Tony Locantro in the booklet, Callas is the prima donna assoluta for now and all time. Her life itself was like a great Romantic opera, he said, a story of triumph, drama, and, finally, tragedy. But her art and life are too well known to discuss here.
What is left is, apart from the legend, the voice, of which fortunately a lot is recorded. This set has all the studiorecordings she ever made with EMI. Individually these records would add up to a lot of $$ to buy, so this set is wonderful. It comes in a nice box, and in compact paper cases. Of course, EMI could have made this set look more fancy, but then this atrractive price would not be possible I guess. For people who like nice boxes, in november a Deluxe Limited Edition will come out! It is all about the music in the end, and the quality of the cd's itself is superb. This set has I believe the latest remasters from Abbey Road Studio's, so it does not get better than this. It also comes with a good booklet, and extra info in pdf format can be downloaded at callas30.com
Get this set, whether you are a fan, or just thinking about giving opera a try, since, as in art so seldom happens (apart from Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Caruso and La Callas), this is undisputed the best opera can get when it comes to a female voice. All that on 70 cds for almost nothing, what more could one want? Great EMI, hope a similar set on all live performances will follow?
on 5 May 2010
I was given this compilation as a present for my 40th birthday in November 2007. I have loved Callas since 1984 and already had most, if not all, of these recordings, on CD or LP.
It really is a superb compilation and at a terrific price, despite the absence of frills. But who cares? The music and the voice, even in decline, reign supreme. One must respect her versatility, supreme musicianship, technical polish, dramatic truth, and that rare "something" which gave her divine status. From her first aria compilation for Cetra in 1949 till the last in 1969, one finds a hugely varied repertory of music, from the masterpieces (the 1953 TOSCA, the 1954 aria compilation where a magnificent MEFISTOFELE astounds us) to the gems (PURITANI, an overwhelmingly dramatic CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, LA TRAVIATA for Cetra, the superb 1957 BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, the second GIOCONDA) to the very good recordings (TURCO IN ITALIA, SONNAMBULA, LA BOHEME, the first NORMA, PAGLIACCI, RIGOLETTO), the simply good (BALLO IN MASCHERA, MEDEA), the bad (FORZA DEL DESTINO, AIDA, MANON LESCAUT, the second LUCIA and TOSCA), and the strange (CARMEN, TURANDOT). There are some works one wishes she had recorded, but never did (MACBETH, ANNA BOLENA). It would be interesting if a similar compilation of her live recordings were also made. We witness the premature vocal decline when comparing the first GIOCONDA, recorded for Cetra in 1952 when she had a huge, unlimited Assoluta instrument, to the ruins which greet us in some ill-advised recordings of 1962-63, to a few Verdi marvels in 1969, despite a reduction in volume. Highly recommended for all opera lovers who want to discover the art of Callas, but one must NOT miss several definitive live performances: the 1949 Naples NABUCCO, the 1951 Florence VESPRI SICILIANI with Kleiber, the 1952 superhuman Florence ARMIDA and Scala MACBETH, the Mexico TROVATORE in 1950, AIDA in 1951, and RIGOLETTO in 1952, the 1953 MEDEA (both Florence and La Scala), the 1955 Berlin LUCIA, Scala TRAVIATA and NORMA, the 1957 Scala ANNA BOLENA and Cologne SONNAMBULA, the 1958 Lisbon TRAVIATA and Dallas MEDEA.
on 29 November 2013
An absolute bargain which includes the long supressed cabbaletta from one of the arias from 'Il Corsaro' presumably because in 1969, the great voice above the stave is not what it once was. Yet all these recordings have their virtues, even the later ones. Who today can match the delicacy of the phrasing, the different vocal colours, the range of repertoire and sing with such authority. If you listen to the early recordings the actual beauty of the voice takes your breath away. There is something that just rings true about these interpretations. La Callas throws her whole being into her interpretations and you feel that she is creating and not just interpreting the notes on the page. Yes, there are those rogue sounds that some will hate. Callas was never a mere vocalist. Opera is drama and this is apparent in everything that Maria Callas recorded. People queued outside ROH Covent Garden in 1964 for three days and nights to get tickets to see Callas as 'Tosca'. Listening to these recordings, I can understand why! A remarkable achievement and sets her apart as one of the greatest creative artistes of the Twentieth Century and one of the greatest singers in recorded history. What a pity EMI were so conservative when they were choosing what to record with Callas! Callas is wasted in Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Aida, Manon Lescaut, inspiring though the singing is. No decent recording of Armida or Medea. Who, before or since Callas, has had a hit in the fiendishly difficult role of Medea?!
Buy this box set, an absolute bargain, and listen in wonder and admiration to one of the greatest opera singers who ever lived.
on 17 April 2010
This is quite simply the best value opera boxed set you are ever likely to see. Opera on CD is normally expensive. Here you have 22 complete operas, plus 4 stereo repeats, and 14 recital discs by the incomparable Maria Callas. All of the recordings have been beautifully remastered at Abbey Road Studios. The packaging is very compact with an excellent little booklet.
The only real problem is that the 70 discs are in recording date order, starting with her first recital in 1949 and ending with EMI rarities from 1969. So unless you create a quick reference sheet, with the composers listed in alphabetical order, you'll get very frustrated trying to quickly find what you want to listen to.