CD Spotlight. A Very Joyous Disc - Brahms arranged by Kenneth Woods impresses Alice McVeigh. '... this is an excellent performance representing a useful, joyful and even inspired addition to the orchestral repertoire.'
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Greek super-star soprano Maria Callas was born in New York City on 2 December 1923. She grew up in New York but her mother took her back to Athens in 1937. She studied initially at the Greek National Conservatoire with Maria Trivella. She made her professional debut with Greek National Opera as Beatrice in Suppé's Boccaccio, and first appeared in a leading role as Tosca in August 1942. After World War II ended, she returned to the USA to visit her father, and then began working in Verona, initially as La Gioconda, and was then taken up by influential Italian conductor Tullio Serafin to sing Isolde.
In Venice in 1949, whilst engaged to sing Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, another soprano, engaged to sing Elvira in I puritani, became ill, and Callas took on this role too, learning it in just six days and impressing the critics.
Her later career was marked by scandals, vocal deterioration and illness. In 1974 she toured the USA, South Korea and Japan with Giuseppe Di Stefano, and her final public performance was in Sapporo, Japan, on 11 November 1974. She lived largely alone in Paris at the end of her life, dying on 16 September 1977, aged only fifty-three.
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