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Maria Callas

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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | December 2, 2013
Biographical sources differ on when Maria Callas was born -- one book covers all bases by listing her birth date as "Dec. 2, 3 or 4, 1923" -- but every reputable source agrees that this soprano, who would have turned 90 this week, ranks among the best of the best. (Google is going with Dec. 2, which explains its nice graphic today .) Callas worship is a cliche by now (Terrence McNally built a whole play, "The Lisbon Traviata," around it), but for those of us fully under the spell of "La Divina," there's nothing cheap or silly about it. We find in Callas an incredibly satisfying artistry that gets to the heart and soul of opera -- of music, period.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 8, 2014
For many opera fans, Maria Callas was the last word on lyrical passion. But there was another extraordinary soprano before, during and after La Divina's relatively brief reign -- Magda Olivero, who developed something of a cult following for her visceral singing and acting. Olivero died Sept. 8 at the age of 104. The tributes will be many. ( Tom Huizenga has posted a fine one for NPR. ) I regret that I didn't pay enough attention to Olivero, never sought out her recordings as energetically as I did those of Callas.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Elizabeth Teachout and By Elizabeth Teachout,Special to the Sun | April 4, 1999
"Maria Callas: Sacred Monster," by Stelios Galatopoulos. Simon & Schuster. 564 pages. $35.Whether staring out of Apple's "think different" ads, re-created in the Tony Award winning play "Master Class," or blown up to the size of a billboard as backdrop for the opera "Harvey Milk," Maria Callas remains a stronger presence two decades after her death than any opera singer currently gracing the stage of the Met. By demanding that opera be a dramatic experience -- often at the sacrifice of vocal beauty -- she earned the nickname "La Divina" though there were an equal number of opera fans who considered her nothing less than the Antichrist.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | December 2, 2013
Biographical sources differ on when Maria Callas was born -- one book covers all bases by listing her birth date as "Dec. 2, 3 or 4, 1923" -- but every reputable source agrees that this soprano, who would have turned 90 this week, ranks among the best of the best. (Google is going with Dec. 2, which explains its nice graphic today .) Callas worship is a cliche by now (Terrence McNally built a whole play, "The Lisbon Traviata," around it), but for those of us fully under the spell of "La Divina," there's nothing cheap or silly about it. We find in Callas an incredibly satisfying artistry that gets to the heart and soul of opera -- of music, period.
FEATURES
By Dallas Morning News | February 6, 1994
Midway through Jonathan Demme's film "Philadelphia," there is a supercharged scene in which Andrew Beckett (played by actor Tom Hanks) attempts to explain to his lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), what opera means to him.As Maria Callas' recording of "La mamma morta" from Giordano's "Andrea Chenier" begins softly in the background and then swells to fill the theater, Andrew translates the words and conveys the passions and emotional meanings behind this operatic excerpt.It is the most vividly remembered moment after the drama has been played out and the film has ended; so much so that record stores nationally have had a recent run on Callas' recordings.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | September 23, 1995
George Bernard Shaw coined the expression: "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." And near the end of her life, when her voice failed, legendary soprano Maria Callas exemplified that notion by teaching a series of master classes at Juilliard.Playwright and Callas devotee Terrence McNally was in the audience at those classes, which form the basis for "Master Class," now at Washington's Kennedy Center prior to Broadway. But this latest script by last season's Tony Award-winning playwright is much more than a fictionalized transcription or a valentine to "La Divina" from an ardent fan. It is that rare example of a play that does what it is about: It not only professes the power of art, it demonstrates it.McNally wrote "Master Class" for Zoe Caldwell, and much of its power is due to the actress' tour-de-force, Tony-caliber transformation into Callas, under Leonard Foglia's direction.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | August 11, 2002
The first time I heard the voice of Maria Callas, I laughed. The setting was a college professor's home. He had invited his music history class over one night so that we could all listen to a complete opera together. His choice was a recording of Rossini's defining comedy The Barber of Seville starring Callas as Rosina. No sooner did she start in on her first aria than I got the giggles. "It sounds like she has marbles in her mouth," I said, feeling quite the astute little critic. The teacher just gave me a pity-the-poor-rube smile and let the records play on. With the 25th anniversary of the soprano's death looming next month, I find it hard to believe I ever disliked, let alone giggled over, her incomparable, indelible singing.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and By Tim Smith,Sun Staff | July 22, 2001
Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography, by Anne Edwards. St. Martin's Press. 332 pages. $27.95. Maria Callas has become the Marilyn Monroe of the opera world. The soprano's darkly beautiful face is in itself an icon; her voice is more marketable than ever; the story of her brilliant career, tabloid-feeding love life and pathetic, premature death at 53 guarantees a constant stream of books about her. Last year, Greek Fire, the ambitious biography by investigative reporter Nicholas Gage, looked deeply into the soprano's affair with tycoon Aristotle Onassis and came up with a dead baby.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and By Tim Smith,Sun Staff | October 15, 2000
"Greek Fire: The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis," by Nicholas Gage. Knopf. 407 pages. $26.95. On July 22, 1959, a super-luxurious yacht set sail from Monte Carlo for a cruise that would take its passengers through the waters of the once-great empire known as Byzantium. The warships of that ancient state, writes Nicholas Gage, "were famous for bombarding enemy vessels with 'Greek fire' -- an incendiary mixture of mysterious compositions that engulfed and destroyed everything it touched."
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 8, 2014
For many opera fans, Maria Callas was the last word on lyrical passion. But there was another extraordinary soprano before, during and after La Divina's relatively brief reign -- Magda Olivero, who developed something of a cult following for her visceral singing and acting. Olivero died Sept. 8 at the age of 104. The tributes will be many. ( Tom Huizenga has posted a fine one for NPR. ) I regret that I didn't pay enough attention to Olivero, never sought out her recordings as energetically as I did those of Callas.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | April 4, 2010
Of all the incisive moments in Terrence McNally's "Master Class," his Tony Award-winning tribute to the astonishing Maria Callas, the most compelling may be when "La Divina" - as her devoted fans called the soprano - mentions criticisms she received: "They said they didn't like my sound. But they didn't like my soul." When Tyne Daly delivers that line in the Kennedy Center's exhilarating new production of the play, you feel all the truth and pain behind it. By that point in "Master Class," it's kind of hard to remember that the real Callas isn't on the Eisenhower Theater stage revealing her inner self, so persuasively does Daly animate the character.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Baltimore Sun reporter | March 31, 2010
More than 30 years after her death, soprano Maria Callas remains the benchmark for interpretive intensity and insight in opera. That's one reason why Terrence McNally's first Callas-centric play, "The Lisbon Traviata," has retained such potency since its 1985 premiere. The other reason for this comic-tragic work's success, of course, is that it's just so entertaining, a point reaffirmed by the Kennedy Center's handsome new production -- one of three operatically attuned plays by McNally being presented at the center.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | August 11, 2002
The first time I heard the voice of Maria Callas, I laughed. The setting was a college professor's home. He had invited his music history class over one night so that we could all listen to a complete opera together. His choice was a recording of Rossini's defining comedy The Barber of Seville starring Callas as Rosina. No sooner did she start in on her first aria than I got the giggles. "It sounds like she has marbles in her mouth," I said, feeling quite the astute little critic. The teacher just gave me a pity-the-poor-rube smile and let the records play on. With the 25th anniversary of the soprano's death looming next month, I find it hard to believe I ever disliked, let alone giggled over, her incomparable, indelible singing.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and By Tim Smith,Sun Staff | July 22, 2001
Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography, by Anne Edwards. St. Martin's Press. 332 pages. $27.95. Maria Callas has become the Marilyn Monroe of the opera world. The soprano's darkly beautiful face is in itself an icon; her voice is more marketable than ever; the story of her brilliant career, tabloid-feeding love life and pathetic, premature death at 53 guarantees a constant stream of books about her. Last year, Greek Fire, the ambitious biography by investigative reporter Nicholas Gage, looked deeply into the soprano's affair with tycoon Aristotle Onassis and came up with a dead baby.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and By Tim Smith,Sun Staff | October 15, 2000
"Greek Fire: The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis," by Nicholas Gage. Knopf. 407 pages. $26.95. On July 22, 1959, a super-luxurious yacht set sail from Monte Carlo for a cruise that would take its passengers through the waters of the once-great empire known as Byzantium. The warships of that ancient state, writes Nicholas Gage, "were famous for bombarding enemy vessels with 'Greek fire' -- an incendiary mixture of mysterious compositions that engulfed and destroyed everything it touched."
ENTERTAINMENT
By Elizabeth Teachout and By Elizabeth Teachout,Special to the Sun | April 4, 1999
"Maria Callas: Sacred Monster," by Stelios Galatopoulos. Simon & Schuster. 564 pages. $35.Whether staring out of Apple's "think different" ads, re-created in the Tony Award winning play "Master Class," or blown up to the size of a billboard as backdrop for the opera "Harvey Milk," Maria Callas remains a stronger presence two decades after her death than any opera singer currently gracing the stage of the Met. By demanding that opera be a dramatic experience -- often at the sacrifice of vocal beauty -- she earned the nickname "La Divina" though there were an equal number of opera fans who considered her nothing less than the Antichrist.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Baltimore Sun reporter | March 31, 2010
More than 30 years after her death, soprano Maria Callas remains the benchmark for interpretive intensity and insight in opera. That's one reason why Terrence McNally's first Callas-centric play, "The Lisbon Traviata," has retained such potency since its 1985 premiere. The other reason for this comic-tragic work's success, of course, is that it's just so entertaining, a point reaffirmed by the Kennedy Center's handsome new production -- one of three operatically attuned plays by McNally being presented at the center.
NEWS
March 30, 1993
ITALIAN tenor Carlo Bergonzi, in town for his farewell appearance as Nemorino in the Baltimore Opera Company's production of Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore," recently regaled visitors with stories of the great divas he has worked with.Of Maria Callas: "Of course she was a great interpreter and to sing with her was a very emotional experience. By that I don't mean just being on the same stage with Callas -- after all, I had my own part to think of during a performance -- but her artistry, her total dedication to the work.
FEATURES
By J. Wynn Rousuck and J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC | February 25, 1997
There's a scene in the second act of "The Lisbon Traviata" when an opera aficionado tries to explain the appeal of the genre to a skeptic. "Opera is about us, our life-and-death passions -- we all love, we're all going to die," he says.That, in a nutshell, is what this Terrence McNally play -- receiving its Baltimore premiere at Everyman Theatre -- is all about.Actually the play is more like two operas. Act One is comic opera; Act Two, tragic. But both are savage, and although the humorous first act is the one for which the play is better known, at Everyman it is the serious second act that succeeds best.
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