December 02, 2014
Sir Antonio Pappano on why Maria Callas was a 'true artist'
A true artist is someone who by definition is fiercely dedicated to his or her craft; but the greatest artists have something in their personality that turns this dedication into a gift that radiates, communicates and inspires.
Maria Callas was such an artist. Through her unique voice she was able to express the most profound emotions, not only bringing characters to life, but defining them for generations of listeners. Her recorded legacy is one of the great treasures of the world, enabling us to follow the artistic trajectory of the greatest singing actress of all time.
When I listen to her I'm drawn in like no other artist; the voice mesmerises through its strange beauty, its force, its delicacy. Yet it is Callas' uncompromising need to be expressive in the most truthful way, serving the composer and the listener at the same time.
She made so many iconic recordings that to list any favourites is actually a daunting proposition, but if forced I would have to cite the bel canto recordings of operas by Cherubini, Bellini and Donizetti. She reinvented this repertoire for our times and showed us what great masterpieces these could be when performed by a musician of her calibre. I refer specifically of course to Norma, Lucia di Lamermoor, I Puritani, and Medea. Unsurpassable, all.