Sunday, 6 September 2015

Maria Callas



It’s risky to say it here in Greece — Greeks believe that all things Greek are, by definition, the best in the world, and they can get very angry if you disagree — but I don’t like Maria Callas. And I don’t think it’s just a matter of personal taste — I believe (Well, I would, wouldn’t I?) that my critical opinion has some validity.

So what don’t I like about her, meaning, about her recorded performances? How long have you got? Her melodramatic, tragedy queen arrival on stage, whatever the rôle. Her unshakable conviction that all operas were written exclusively to provide a showcase for her. The grating gear-changes as she shifts from one register to another through her admittedly phenomenal range. Especially in her later recordings, her exaggerated vibrato, shifting at least a quarter-tone above and below the written pitch of the note. In fact, frankly, she is very often quite simply out of tune. Her lack of subtlety amounting to crassness; she seems to have no real feeling for music.

In however many years I’ve been writing this blog, there have only ever been about three comments on it in the space provided for comments, though I have (also about three times) had e-mails which have commented directly on a post. This time, I fully expect enraged responses, mainly from people who, while not knowing much about music, are quite sure that Greek musicians must be the best in the world.
 

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