Global'La Divina', Maria Callas renewed lyrical singing

‘La Divina’, Maria Callas renewed lyrical singing

When we talk about Maria Callas (1923-1977) we are referring to that deeply disciplined and professional artist who put her voice and her body at the service of drama, which is a gigantic difference, since she revolutionized the conception of the performer,” he tells Excélsior. the researcher and expert in performing arts Enid Negrete, a few days before the centenary of the birth of one of the most important singers of the 20th century.

Known as The divineMaria Anna Cecilia Sofía Kalogeropulu or Maria Callas, was a soprano of Greek descent who was born in the United States on December 2, 1923, who renewed the way of doing opera.

What were Callas’ contributions? Negrete is asked. “They are important not only because she is a singer that we want, whether we like it or not, and we cannot fail to recognize the contribution that she made to the conception of the scene and to what it means to be an opera singer.

Not so much in the vocal technique, but in being an ensemble, organic and unique performer,” says Negrete, who works in Querétaro on a new project about Montezuma.

Furthermore, he points out that this revolution in opera that today generates disagreements over modern productions began with Callas and with the scenic work of Luchino Visconti and Wilhelm Wagner. “They had no idea where opera could go, but the question was whether it really, as a language, had something more to give, and the answer was the proposal of Callas and both directors.”

However, he cautions that Callas’s name is not synonymous with perfect technique.

I think that Montserrat Caballé had a more perfect technique. And of course we are talking about a sensational voice, but it is not the most spectacular, because I could cite Birgit Nilsson’s, who was more spectacular.”

Despite everything, “with Callas we are talking about a being who was capable of integrating all aspects of interpretation: acting, vocal and musical expression, that is, expression in all its senses and this is, perhaps, the most revolutionary that Callas proposes to us.”

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Furthermore, it ensures that The divine took the opera to points never seen before, since the spectators had not really seen a Violetta (of The mischief) die on stage, like she did.

So the most important thing about her is what has been studied the least: that process of understanding, internalization and organicity of the creation of a character that she achieved,” Negrete asserts.

What was opera like before Callas? “The Callas is a post-war product. But before the First and Second World Wars We had tremendous chaos in the theaters. For example, if a tenor knew the opera in German, he would sing it; and if the soprano recited it in Italian, that’s how it arrived, that is, each person played the role in the language she knew.

It means that there was no scenic rigor or documentary research in the staging and things were presented with what was in the theater. Furthermore, stage direction did not exist as a profession in opera, except in a few cases, such as when Stanislavski began directing in Russia or in some cases in Germany,” he details, in addition to the fact that the soloists made their own costumes and their will, regardless of whether they were in tune with the rest of the production.

Was Callas a perfectionist? “Opera art is very demanding. But Callas grew up with a lot of misconceptions about who she was,” without a mother to provide her with a supportive and loving environment, “and Callas’s great phrase to explain this is the one she writes to her godfather in a letter: ‘Suddenly, when I sang, people loved me’, and when he says this he gives us the deepest reason on which he based his work and that need to do things the way he thought them.

The difference between Callas and other singers is that most of them interpreted the score, while Callas revived it, made it alive, and that makes her extraordinary,” he adds.

Finally, the expert comments that with Callas the meaning of the diva also changed, going from the capricious singer to the most committed.

From there, the divas will be the ones who work the most and who propose new repertoire, and this will change the idea that has evolved to this day, when the divas have doctorates, are musicologists, make important rescues of lost operas and have own projects”, he concludes.


Records indicate that Maria Callas visited Mexico on three occasions (1950 and 1952), to sing at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, in one of which she performed an E flat note that paralyzed the audience, in the opera Aida from 1950.

It has even been commented that she was carried on their shoulders to her hotel that day, although it is part of the legend she left behind. The divine In our country.

For Negrete, “Callas’ visit to Mexico was great luck, although a real study of what the soprano left here remains to be done,” he points out.

For example, he adds, “his work with the Mexican mezzo-soprano Oralia Domínguez, who left one of the most impressive recordings with the duo, in Aida.

That is one of the things that we need to reflect on, although we know that our country hardly studies itself in operatic issues, and it is a problem that must be resolved,” he says.

I believe that the mark that Callas left in Mexico has not been worked on in depth, although the functions have been documented and there is a pirate recording, apparently captured by XEW, although it has not been widely disseminated.


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