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Maria Callas - A Musical Biography: Book/2-CDs Pack Paperback – March 15, 2010


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Maria Callas - A Musical Biography: Book/2-CDs Pack + Maria Callas: The Woman behind the Legend + Tony Palmer's film about Callas (30th Anniversary Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Amadeus Press; Pap/Com edition (March 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574671839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574671834
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

They called her "La Divina." Indeed Maria Callas transcended ordinary human limitations. A supreme singer and actress with a style all her own, she dominated the vocal and operatic world, exerting a deeply lasting influence on it, especially by single-handedly reviving the art and repertoire of bel canto. Volatile, iconoclastic, fearless, obstinately determined, extreme in both life and art, she stirred up endless controversy. The story of her tumultuous public and private life has aroused unceasing fascination, but Robert Levine's new book approaches it from a totally different perspective. This is no ordinary biography, though it includes an account of the major events of her tragically brief life and career. Though he leaves no doubt where his sympathy lies, Levine recounts all this with admirable--sometimes ironic--objectivity, skillfully interpolating hints of future events. Numerous quotes of Callas' judgment of herself and others, as well as their judgments of her, add depth and sharpness to the portrait. The heart of the book, however, is Levine's analytical evaluation of Callas' unique vocal, musical, and theatrical artistry, not merely by description, but by flesh-and-blood demonstration. Included with the book are two CDs of some of her best performances, as well as the texts (with translations) of the arias: an inspired idea, allowing Levine to dissect the performances word by word and note by note, within seconds of each track. Here, too, he preserves remarkable objectivity: despite his clearly boundless admiration, he is not oblivious to her vocal shortcomings. Along the way, he offers insights into the tradition that nurtured her gifts and displays an extraordinarily broad knowledge of opera, the art of singing, and singers past and present. The CDs are stunning, illustrating Callas' incredible vocal and stylistic versatility, her ability to literally inhabit the roles she portrayed, changing and adapting her voice with infinite gradations of color, nuance, and expression to project character and emotion. Her range was enormous, her coloratura impeccable; her best top notes were glorious, and she could break the heart with a downward slide or a carefully placed fermata. All this is amply documented on these records and meticulously analyzed in the text. Listeners must decide whether to read Levine's comments before or after hearing the records; they provide helpful guidance, but their very persuasiveness makes it difficult to preserve the spontaneous immediacy of one's own reactions. Copiously illustrated with wonderful photographs of Callas (and others) in private and on stage, the book is a feast for eye, ear, mind and heart. --Edith Eisler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert Levine is an internationally-known music writer whose work has appeared in dozens of publications. He is Senior Editor of ClassicsToday.com, a worldwide web-site devoted to classical music. He is the author of many of the texts in the Black Dog Opera Library, as well as The Story of the Orchestra. He lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Robert Levine is an internationally-known music writer whose work has appeared in dozens of publications. He is Senior Editor of ClassicsToday.com, a worldwide web-site devoted to classical music. He is the author of many of the texts in the Black Dog Opera Library, as well as The Story of the Orchestra, Maria Callas - A Musical Biography, and Weep, Shudder, Die - A Guide to Loving Opera. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Thank you Mr. Levine from a Callas fan.
Victor Zolezzi
I noticed the track number and names of the songs on the CD go as the book describes...but the songs actually played are different!
Marios Gourogiannis
It is a fascinating way to get to know the work of a most remarkable artist.
messa_di_voce

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By messa_di_voce on February 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you are pretty much unacquainted with the art and life of Maria Callas, I highly recommend this book by Robert Levine, an widely-known music writer and Senior Editor of ClassicsToday.com.
I knew Maria Callas only by reputation and publicity and by my old LP of Norma, recorded in 1960, a riveting dramatic portrait, although the vocal problems that shortened her career were then very much evident. I very much wanted to know more, and to hear her sing when her voice was a little fresher, and, like another reviewer here, didn't really know where to start. This book has been a godsend for me.
The text covers Callas' life and career, and includes many photos and a discography. This book includes two CD's with arias from most of the roles Callas sang on stage and a number of ones she didn't.
The text that accompanies each aria discusses when and how it was recorded, its place in Callas' career, and the real treasure for me is that it discusses, with notations of exact timings so that one can listen to each example, the nuances of drama, emotion and technique that characterize phrases, words, sometimes single notes. It is a fascinating way to get to know the work of a most remarkable artist. I have to say that I was blown away by the Mad Scene from Lucia di Lammermour and the lovely "La mamma morta" from Andrea Chenier, both recorded in 1955, when her voice was fresher than in my later Norma.
Because of the discussion about the painstaking and creative way that Callas crafted her interpretations of the roles she sang, I have a new appreciation for her singing, and I think I finally begin to understand what was so special and moving about her art.
I recommend this book to people well-acquainted with Callas' work as well as neophytes like myself. It really is a gift.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Maria Callas: A Musical Biography is a gloriously presented biography of stellar opera performer Maria Callas. Indeed, "La Divina", as she was called is quite possibly the greatest operatic soprano of the 20th century. The travails of her personal life, as well as her impressive public career, are painstakingly chronicles by internationally known music writer Robert Levine. Over 100 rare black & white photographs, and two full-length music CD's, nicely round out this superb tribute and testimony of a grand woman's life and career. Maria Callas: A Musical Biography is a "must" for the legions of Maria Callas fans and admirers.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There are those people who know all about the greatest music, the gretest artists, the best performances and there are, well, the rest of us. I've been wanting to know more about Callas for some time but am always daunted when I go into a record store and see the row upon row of recordings. Where do you start? I suppose the best introduction would be to sit down with someone who knew a lot about her, who would tell you her story, while playing selections of some of her greatest recordings and pointing out what to listen for, relish, and occasionally criticise in each performance. However, in the absence of such a friend Robert Levine will do very nicely. The book is beautifully produced and the pictures of Callas at every stage of her career are stunning. The real joy though are the two CDs and the accompanying commentary in the book. Each aria is set in context and there are (thank goodness) librettos and timings. Levine points out special features to listen for and is also not afraid to criticise in places. There's also a list or performances and a discography. A wonderful treat.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dag Kyndel on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written, easy-to-read biography with lots, really lots of photos never seen before, among them - on a whole page - of Callas as Turandot.
Two well filled CD:s from EMI are included - and in the last part of the book each aria is discussed in detail. Much value for a modest price. Why not five stars then? Well, the analysis of every aria gets a bit dull after a while. The book is, however, worth any price because so many unique photos!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert P. Allen on March 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a difficult book to comment on: having 2 CD's with Callas performances and commentary from a respected critic is marvelous, but.... One of the Big Issues in Callas' career was the way she let her voice go to pot, yet the CD tracks are not sequential, the listings do not give dates of the performances, and not all the performance notes do either. The biographical section is frequently padded, and the photographs often do not correspond with the time (or events) being described. As with most books nowadays, the publisher ran SpellCheck on the text, but no one edited it, so there are misspelled words and mis-written sentences. The CD's, though, are very much worth the price of the book, and the musical commentary is helpful. The biographical section offers no new information, but is a concise and readable summary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bernie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Now this is what I call a biography. Not only has a plethora of monochrome pictured of Maria in chronological order, but sound performances that thrill your imagination.

The second half of the book actually tells something of the music it's self and is laid out to follow the two included CD's.

Now it is time to visit the Black Dog Opera Library Series.

Selections include major pieces form:
Vincenzo Bellini 1801-1835
Alfredo Catalani 1854-1893
Giacomo Puccini 1858-1924
Umberto Giordano 1867-1848
Giuseppe Verdi 1813-1910
Francesco Cilea 1866-1950
Gaetano Donizetti 1779-1848
Christoph Willibald Gluck 1714-1787
Georges Bizet 1838-1875
Gioachino Rossini 1792-1868
Giacomo Meyerbeer 1791-1864
Charles Gounod 1818-1891
Camille Saint-saëns 1835-1921
Jules Massenet 1842-1912
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