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Callas at Juilliard: The Master Classes (Ideologies of Desire) Paperback – March 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

It proved its value repeatedly over the years, but John Ardoin's 1987 Callas at Juilliard mysteriously slipped out of print some time ago. Callas conducted 23 two-hour opera master classes in 1971 and 1972; Ardoin transcribed and arranged these working sessions on more than 70 arias. Far from the stereotypical self-serving diva putting in a personal appearance, Callas was remarkably practical and specific in her observations. Recurrent themes include diction (particularly the expressive uses of consonants) and the necessity of finding a natural flow for the accents of the words, scrupulously applied to the rhythms of the notes. Callas offered her own ornaments, cadenzas, alterations of word placement, and even cuts; all of these are supplied in musical notation among the copious musical examples in the book. Although she might have been expected to concentrate on soprano repertoire, Callas in fact covered not only arias for all of the other voice categories but also duets (from Lucia di Lammermoor, Rigoletto, Cavalleria Rusticana). Often what Callas asked for was more easily said than done, and the overriding impression is of how exacting the profession really is. (Fans of the Terrence McNally play Master Class will be interested to know that Callas actually was conversant with the tenor arias in Tosca.) Amadeus Press deserves lasting gratitude for restoring this volume; it is to be hoped that someone will rescue Ardoin's 1974 study Callas, written with Gerald Fitzgerald, which is still the best book about the performer's art. --William R. Braun

From Library Journal

After the celebrated soprano ceased public performances in 1965 she spent years in self-study analyzing every detail of interpretation. The result was a series of master classes in 1971-72 at the Juilliard School of Music. The noted critic of the Dallas Morning News has condensed tapes of the classes into an extremely valuable discussion not only of Callas's distinguished roles but of roles for the other voices as well. The book is organized by composer and within composer by aria. It is richly illustrated by musical examplesnot as they appear in the score, but as Callas suggested they be interpreted. Highly recommended for all voice students and as a manual of performance practice. William Shank, CUNY Graduate Sch. Lib.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Ideologies of Desire
  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Amadeus Press (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574670425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574670424
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #857,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By klavierspiel VINE VOICE on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
In 1971-72, several years absent from the operatic and performing stage, Maria Callas appeared in a series of master classes at Juilliard, which attracted attention far beyond the world of the admittedly famed music school at which they were held.
There were several reasons for this. At the time Callas was still the most famous opera singer in the world, as much for her entanglement in the lives of Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy as for her vocal and dramatic artistry. The format of the master class is a peculiar hybrid of individual lesson and public performance, both for the students and the teacher. As Ardoin and others have pointed out, whatever her concern for imparting her knowledge and experience to students, Callas undoubtedly saw the Juilliard classes as an opportunity to test the waters--appearing and even singing, under the guise of demonstrating, in public again to see if she could handle a possible return to her career.
Minus the extramusical baggage that surrounded them, and the excitement Callas' personal presence and vocal illustrations must have created, what remains of these master classes? These faithful transcriptions of many of the sessions give as good an idea as can be had without actually listening to tapes, and show that Callas was a scrupulous, detailed and demanding musical taskmaster. To operatic connoisseurs, there is much interest in the variants, cuts and cadenzas she suggests, illustrated in many musical examples which really need to be compared with published scores in order to obtain the clearest idea of her suggestions. One problem with the original edition was that the excerpts were riddled with printing mistakes--it remains to be seen how much, if any, of this has been rectified.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Callas provides good musical guidance on many famous soprano arias. Reading the book almost brings her back to life.
This is a good book if you're looking for some musical insights from one of the greatest musicians. She talks about technique, expression, and the characters themselves. This book would probably not interest you if you're looking for a biography of Callas. This book is more focused on the music and her insights.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on February 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Although this book is reserved for music majors and/or aspiring opera singers, one does not need to be either to be interested in what makes the talent and genius that is "Maria Callas" tick.

This "masters series" came about during a period when Callas was in semi-retirement. It was a hectic period in her life: Her public fights and eventual breakup with Ari Onasis; photos of her exiting cabs without underwear, etc. So in a real sense this series was as much therapy for her prior to any contemplation of a comeback, as it was her way of "giving back" to the field that had given so much to her.

My interest in this book grows only out of profound respect for the immensity of her talent, which can only be classified as genius. It is also a singular expression of my love for her immense talent. Although I was once a musician and still enjoy and try to stay atop of the best of the musical genres, if I were to be completely honest, except for Callas, opera is way down on my list of musical interests. However, once one has listened to Callas, ones perception of the world of music is forever altered -- altered in the same way that it might change after having listened to Miles Davis or John Coltrane, or Sting. Listening to Callas is a transcendental experience of powerful porportions.

Callas in the same way as do Coltrane and Miles, communicates directly to the soul, her vocal interpretations go directly to the emotional dimension of ones very being. They alone place her in the Pantheon of the musical gods. And as a result, one cannot listen to her and remain emotionally neutral, or remain in a purely academic mode (as I do for most opera).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rafaela Martins on April 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I apologize for any english mistakes I'll probably commit, I'm brazilian, but I really like to say what I find in this book... because it's not only useful to singers, but to all musicians, it's a lifetime lesson... this woman saw music beyond the printed paper... she made art, and all of us must learn from her.
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