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Maria Callas - Verdi: La Traviata - The Legendary Covent Garden Performance (1958)

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 22, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Maria Callas (1923-1977) needs
no introduction as she was quite
simply one of the greatest singers
of the 20th century. Any recording
is of major importance and this
Traviata from 1958 given in London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden is no exception. This recording drawn from private tapes has been remastered by Paul Baily using ICA's
Ambient Mastering process which has enhanced and widened the sound considerably.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. La Traviata, opera: Preludio
  2. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Dell'invito trascorsa è già l'ora
  3. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Brindisi. Libiamo ne' lieti calici
  4. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Che è ciò?... Oh! qual pallor!
  5. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Un dì felice, eterea
  6. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Ebben? che diavol fate?
  7. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Si ridesta in ciel l'aurora
  8. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. È strano!
  9. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Ah, fors'è lui
  10. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Follie!... follie!... delirio vano è questo!
  11. La Traviata, opera: Act 1. Sempre libera
  12. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Lunge da lei per me non v'ha diletto!
  13. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. De' miei bollenti spiriti
  14. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Annina, donde vieni?
  15. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Pura siccome un angelo
  16. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Non sapete quale affetto
  17. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Un dì, quando le veneri il tempo
  18. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Ah! Dite, alla giovine
  19. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Imponete - Non amarlo ditegli
  20. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Dammi tu forza, o cielo!
  21. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Che fai? - Nulla
  22. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Ah, vive sol quel core all'amor mio!
  23. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Di Provenza il mar, il suol

Disc: 2

  1. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Avrem lieta di maschere la notte
  2. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Noi siamo zingarelle
  3. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Di Madride noi siam mattadori
  4. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Alfredo!... Voi!
  5. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Invitato a qui seguirmi, verrà desso?
  6. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Ogni suo aver tal femmina per amor mio sperdea
  7. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Di sprezzo degno se stesso rende
  8. La Traviata, opera: Act 2. Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core non puoi comprendere tutto l'amore
  9. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Preludio
  10. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Annina? - Comandate?
  11. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. 'Teneste la promessa...'
  12. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti
  13. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Baccanale. Largo al quadrupede
  14. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Signora... - Che t'accadde?
  15. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Parigi, o cara, noi lasceremo
  16. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Ah! Gran Dio! morir sì giovane
  17. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Ah, Violetta! - Voi, signor!
  18. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Prendi, quest'è t'immagine de' miei passati giorni
  19. La Traviata, opera: Act 3. Se una pudica vergine degli anni suoi nel fiore a te donasse il core


Product Details

  • Performer: The Covent Garden Chorus
  • Orchestra: The Covent Garden Orchestra
  • Conductor: Nicola Rescigno
  • Composer: Verdi
  • Audio CD (February 22, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: International Classical Artist
  • ASIN: B004FFBMI0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,998 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ralph Moore TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 22, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I was looking forward to hearing this new mastering of the private tape of this live, 1958 performance of "La traviata" at Covent Garden. Unfortunately, it's a disappointment; it seems that ICA Classics have simply shaved off the top frequencies. To take but one example of how this has produced an inferior result, on the other labels, a mild curiosity is still audible. Just after the overture has begun, you can hear Callas warming up quietly in the wings, accompanying the orchestra! Presumably this is something the mike picked up but the audience could not - but the remastering here by ICA has obliterated that charming little vignette - goodness knows how. The Myto issue has more hiss and rumble but you can hear the details and upper frequencies of the performance; this ICA sounds opaque, muddied and veiled - you are listening through a blanket of filtering. Nor is there more ambience, despite their claims to have engineered an improved sense of space; it's still reasonably clean, spacious mono without much distortion. Worried by my findings, I sought corroboration of my impression from independent ears before writing this review and they confirmed what I had heard: this is not a success.

This is a great pity, as there is little doubt in my mind that this performance preserves what I believe it to be by far the best souvenir we have of Callas as Violetta and for once she is properly supported by a distinguished cast. I have enthusiastically reviewed elsewhere this performance as issued on the Myto and IDIS labels; meanwhile, I'd stick with the former as the cheapest and best-sounding option, or you can go with the more expensive IDIS - but both are preferable to this one.
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I happen to now own both the Myto and the ica versions of this recording and after listening to selections from both back-to-back, I much prefer the ica recording. I do believe the sound is improved, and I don't find it "muffled" or "murky" as the other reviewer commented. Perhaps it's all in your personal taste, but it will be the ica recording I will be pulling down from my shelf vs the Myto recording.
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I previously owned the Melodram recording of this opera and find the ICA version to be much better in sound. To me this was the finest performance of Violetta given by Callas that has been recorded. As John Ardoin in his book The Callas Legacy states: "While this performance uncovers some pronounced vocal problems, Callas' use of her voice to expressive ends amounts to an amalgamation of the best in previous Traviatas. For even though her voice betrays her at times, her intellect and spirit have now conquered the part in a manner that outdistances all others." Have to agree with L. Petrella's review in that I too did not find it "muffled" or "murky" as the other reviewer commented.
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Callas as Violetta. What is there to compare to it? I acquired each and every recording of this opera with Maria as Violetta as they came to light. I have always favored the 1955 La Scala performance with DiSefano conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini. Although this performance from Covent Garden has been in my collection for some time, I just gave it another hearing and am completely devasted by Maria's characterization. Whle most sopranos who essay the role can manage Verdi's coloratura with charm in the first act, it is the second act that requires a sublime artisit to capture your intellect and emotion. And overwhelmingly Callas does just that! Just listen to her reply to Germont "E vero, e vero!" it breaks your heart. Or, thereafter, her extended tone and expression that begins "Dite alla giovane." Callas' magic is all there. There are countless other instances, some fleeting, some extended that flesh out this portrayal. In sum, just the most perfect characterization of Violetta that exists on disc.
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I have long been a fan of Callas. She can sing with great drama and passion. There are parts of her voice that are quite beautiful but the top of her voice by 1958 was becoming increasingly problematic. There are several notes that are missed badly. I must admit that when I know they are coming I turn the volume down. However, Callas is one of the few Violettas who can take her last breath at the end of the opera with such stunning power. I particularly enjoyed listening to Valetti sing Alfredo. Overall this is an enjoyable performance. If you like there are also live performances of Callas performing Traviata with Di Stefano from Mexico City and Milan (I prefer Milan), and Kraus from Lisbon. There is also a studio recording from Cetra (not a favorite of mine) It is nice to be able to listen to these historical recordings without spending a lot of money. They should be in public domain for everyone to be able to afford. This price is very close to it.
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By C. Briley on February 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD
There is NOTHING like the voice of the divine Maria. This is recording shows her voice in it's prime. WOW! Sempre Libera is nothing short of genius. She said once that for her an opera begins way before the opening night and ends long after the closing curtain--- it is this kind of harbored emotion that you hear in every single note that she sings. Simply said, her voice will never be matched.
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