Los Angeles Concert 1958
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This disc is a major addition to Calla's rich legacy on discs - an unexpected souvenir for those who heard her in her finest days and a reminder for those who did not, of what she was capable at her most secure and inspired. - John Ardoin
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One year earlier than the above performances, Callas' voice is in good shape, with only a few of her trademark flaws. She tries a rather unsteady high C at the end of the Vestale aria that she wisely omitted in later performances. Musetta's Waltz is a chestnut that tends to expose her weaknesses, in particular a lack of ability to project light, flirtatious charm when it's not written into the music, as it is in the case of Rossini. The intensely sung Mefistofele aria is perhaps the gem of this collection. The sound on this issue is necessarily more primitive than a recording made under more controlled conditions.
On the whole, this concert is a worthy representation of Callas and it is good to have it available. On the other hand, because of the sound and the availability of duplicate performances of these particular numbers, it's probably not the best choice as an introduction to her art.
This CD started with a poor master recording. Lots of pops and hisses, so the final result (I'm guessing) couldn't be made that great. Still, Callas' magic does come through, just much scratchier than I think she would want replayed.