Cherubini: Medea (complete opera live 1953) with Maria Callas, Fedora Barbieri, Leonard Bernstein, Orchestra & Chorus of La Scala, Milan Live, Original recording remastered
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Top Customer Reviews
Callas Edition series), also at La Scala, sounds quite listenable. There is none of the disfiguring distortion on loud notes that is encountered on the "Andrea Chenier" and, to a lesser extent, on the "Sonnambula".
Callas' Medea, as heard on this performance, is a Godzilla-like predator. The voice was in its most spectacular condition --- very large, powerful, and venemous. After listening to what Callas accomplishes here, one realizes why these Cherubini opera is no longer in the repertoire today. Plainly and simply, there is no one around today who could even come remotely close to what Callas brings off here. This may also be the best conducted of all the Callas Medea performances, with Leonard Bernstein's pacing and exciting tempi.
This is a performance well worth owning, and the sound is certainly one of the better Callas-live recordings. What a shame that some of the other performances issued in this series (most notably the "Andrea Chenier", "Sonnambula", and "Traviata" ---------all from La Scala in 1955, could not sound as good as this "Medea" does.
Maria Callas' approach to Medea changed somewhat through her career. Here, her Medea, much like her Norma at Covent Garden in 1952, is of greater elemental strength than later in her career, compared with her portrayal at Dallas in 1958 for example, although not quite so complete. At Dallas, her voice was no longer the same dramatic soprano that graced the stage in 1953; instead, the voice is even finer on the coloratura high notes, if less secure than before, and Medea becomes less of a tigress and more `human'. However, her Medea remains remarkable at La Scala.
Gino Penno, an exciting singer, is a fine partner - he was at home in the heavier Italian repertoire e.g. Pollione (Norma), Manrico (Il Trovatore) and Ernani - several excellent "live" recordings and broadcasts of his exist; the Ernani with Cetra was particularly great.
Maria Luisa Nache was a quality singer and makes Glauce seem interesting.
Leonard Bernstein's conducting remains somewhat controversial but the result is extremely exciting and potent.
The sound is average - the chorus is tarnished by distortion and swamps just about everything else - soloists and orchestra - when at full pelt. The sound is usually adequate, if rather murky - excluding some high-notes and occasionally overpowering bass.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A recording of Callas in one of her most celebrated and seminal roles is something most serious opera-lovers will want to own and listen to but the choice isn't straightforward. Read morePublished on August 22, 2011 by Ralph Moore
This is an excellent historical recording reflecting Callas in her prime. Bernstein's conducting is intense and Penno does very well depicting his character in a dramatic way. Read morePublished on February 5, 2010 by Aaron M. Gabaldon
Cherubini's Medea is most likely one of the most beautiful and powerful operas ever written, and Maria Callas sure knows how to sing it. Read morePublished on December 18, 2007 by Thomas Thuene
As is often the case with me, this Medea is my favorite but not my first. I purchased the Serafin Medea (Picchi + Scotto) just in time for summer break. Read morePublished on December 28, 2006 by David Faulkenberry
While the performance is first rate, the quality of the recording leaves a lot to be desired; some cases of "static" on Disk 2.Published on August 30, 2006 by William C. Hillman
This great recording is totally sabotaged by the mastering EMI used. This was one of the recordings issued by EMI in conjunction with Callas' horendous sister Jackie, who claimed... Read morePublished on March 27, 2006 by J. Kauffman
The Amazon reviewer states that Bernstein thought of this as less classical than verismo opera, and that Callas agreed. Read morePublished on June 25, 2004
Medea is perhaps the most complex (anti-) heroine in all operatic history. A woman who betrayed her country, butchered her brother to pieces and became the wife of the enemy, all... Read morePublished on May 17, 2004 by Emma de Soleil