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Maria Callas: The Platinum Collection

Notes & Reviews:

EMI's generous compilation of 46 tracks from its archive of recordings by Maria Callas makes a fine introduction to her legacy. Callas' voice isn't consistent throughout, but when she's at her best, it's easy to hear the musical and dramatic power that made her the most legendary opera singer of the 20th century. She is impressive often enough that it's not hard to forgive the performances that are less than stellar. The operatic selections on the three-disc set are not organized in any particular order, chronologically or by composer or nationality, but they provide a good cross-section of the repertoire in which she excelled. Except for arias by Gluck, Mozart, and Spontini, the set focuses on Romantic and Post-Romantic operas, including composers such as Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Meyerbeer, Verdi, Bizet, Mascagni, Leoncavallo, Puccini, and Charpentier. In some of the excerpts, Callas is joined by some of the most illustrious singers of her generation, including Tito Gobbi, Giuseppe di Stefano, and Nicolai Gedda. The conductors include her mentor, Tullio Serafin, Nicola Rescigno, Herbert von Karajan, and Georges Prêtre. EMI provides useful information about the performers and the dates of most of the performances so that dedicated listeners can track down the sources of these selections. The recordings were made between 1953 and 1964, including some live performances, so the sound quality varies considerably but it's mostly very good and never bad enough to get in the way of the music. ~ Stephen Eddins



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