Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

New York critics review Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi : a study in critical approaches to the inter-relationship… Van Campen, Mariko 1977

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-UBC_1977_A8 V36.pdf [ 8.91MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0094128.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0094128-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0094128-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0094128-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0094128-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0094128-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0094128-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

NEW YORK CRITICS REVIEW MARIA CALLAS AND RENATA TEBALDI: A Study i n C r i t i c a l Approaches to the Inter-relationship of Singing and Acting i n Opera MarikolVan Campen B. A., University o r B r i t i s h Columbia, 1968 A Thesis Submitted i n Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts i n The Faculty of Graduate Studies Department of Theatre, Faculty of Arts, University of Bri t i s h Columbia We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA by October, 1977 1977 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of T H E A T R E  The University of British Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date O c t . 5, 1977 i ABSTRACT The following study i s an analysis of New York reviews of performances of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi which attempts to discover what opera c r i t i c s feel to be the most effective a r t i s t i c balance between singing and acting i n opera. Callas and Tebaldi have been chosen as the subjects of the reviews because of their renown as singers, the closely coinciding c i r -cumstances of their careers and the polarities which they represented i n the issue of acting versus singing i n operatic performance. The primary data of the study (largely opera, concert and recording reviews) has been taken from distinguished American journals, such as Saturday Review. The New Yorker. Musical America and The New York Times. Secondary information has been extracted from "news" journals, such as Time and Newsweeky and books, most of which were written by c r i t i c s who figure prominently i n the main body of the analysis. The information (consisting of news stories, personal interviews with the singers, and discussions of c r i t i c a l obligations) has been included i n order to gain a broader perspective on the c r i t i c s , the singers and the concept of acting i n opera. The general conclusion reached i n this study i s that though most c r i t i c s demand much musical and l i t t l e dramatic finesse i n operatic performance, they are capable of profound appreciation of a singer's histrionic talent and w i l l overlook many vocal flaws when i t i s manifest. i i Introduction Chapter I The Critics Chapter I I Debut America Chapter I I I Conquering the Met Chapter IV Tdsca Chapter V Other Perspectives Bibliography-Appendix CONTENTS 1 4 24 39 65 97 133 .139 1 INTRODUCTION The purpose of this thesis i s to examine a selection of c r i t i c a l reviews of New York operatic performances by Maria Gallas and Renata Tebaldi i n order to determine the c r i t i c s ' varying attitudes toward the balance and inter-relationship between an operatic performer's singing and acting a b i l i t i e s . The focus of the study i s serious popular criticism as distinct from the layman's response of the "news" report, the more esoteric examinations of learned journals, and the hindsight of books. It i s f e l t that the articles gathered here form, i n view of the serious-ness of their purpose, the considerable range of their public appeal and the immediacy of their relationship to the operatic event, an accur-ate indication of contemporary attitudes toward the importance of acting i n opera. The secondary aim of this paper i s to review the American careers of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. As almost exact contemporaries, their careers demonstrate striking parallels, yet their considerable a r t i s t i c laurels and enthusiastic popular acclaim were derived from very different, i f not entirely opposite combinations of talents and pr i o r i t i e s . These divas were considered personal as well as a r t i s t i c r i v a l s by many and this r i v a l r y , real or imagined, sparked numerous interesting c r i t i c a l comparisons. The fame of Callas and Tebaldi dom-inated most of the operatic world during the decade between 1955 and 1965, and their careers have continued i n varying degrees of activity u n t i l the present day. As a result of their renown, the volume of journalism devoted to these sopranos i s immense. 2 In order to make the comparison between these two singers as e f f i -cient as possible, four groups of articles have been chosen which corres-pond to similar events i n the careers of the women: their American debut performances; their respective debut seasons with the Metropolitan Opera Company; their individual interpretations of the Puccini heroine, Floria Tosca, who was prominent i n both their careers; and, f i n a l l y , a selection of recording and concert reviews, teaching techniques and personal inter-views. The materials for this analysis have been drawn primarily from popular American journals of high intellectual reputation, which are, nevertheless, readily available to the general public. The New York  Times. Saturday Review. The New Yorker, and Nation are the most f r e -quently quoted magazines i n this category. Further selections have been taken from Musical America. High Fidelity. The American Record Guide and Opera News, a l l of which may be presumed to reach a more knowledgable and perhaps more professionally-oriented readership, but which are s t i l l accessible to the casual reader. Reviews from these two source groups constitute the primary data under examination. Information gathered from the "news" journals such as Time. L i f e , and Newsweek should be regarded, with occasional exceptions, as secon-dary data. Generally, this information f a l l s into one of the following categories: reported exerpts from foreign critiques, domestic reviews from outside New York City and facts concerning individual performers and performances. Such data i s included to provide a wider perspective on the review undergoing examination. Passages from more substantial l i t e r a r y publications have been used as evidence of the scholarly endea-vours of several c r i t i c s . However, such material i s also secondary 3 data and meant to represent the tools of analysis rather than i t s subject. A special body of information has been included i n Chapter I i n order to shed light on the phenomenon of criticism. This information has been gathered from several sources and f a l l s into three categories: broad analyses of the role of the music c r i t i c ; discussions about c r i -t i c a l obligations by several of the reviewers featured i n the main body of this study; and evidence of many of the individual c r i t i c s ; specific biases toward Maria Callas or Renata Tebaldi as performers. It i s hoped that careful examination and analysis of the materials that have here been l i s t e d may to some degree further understanding of the complex phenomenon we c a l l opera. 4 CHAPTER I - THE CRITICS Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi are recognizable, i f not familiar names even i n 1977» fifteen years after the peak of their fame. As two of the most popular sopranos of the operatic stage i n recent memory, they displayed differing talents and personalities. A r i v a l r y was assumed to exist between them, and their personal l i v e s , especially that of Callas, were avidly followed by press and public. At times the sensationalism of the popular press threatened to overshadow their considerable a r t i s t i c achievement. Their c r i t i c s , on the other hand, are private and elusive creatures and none more so than the journalistic c r i t i c s . With relatively rare exceptions they are faceless entities about whom the public knovjs l i t t l e and cares less. Yet c r i t i c s assume god-like authority over many well-known and well-respected a r t i s t s , s i t t i n g i n judgment on their creative efforts. Most of the time the public accepts the c r i t i c s ' opinions, as though they were fact, too often assuming without question their right to pronounce sentence. Artists and C r i t i c s on Critics Writing for the National Review, Robert Moses points an accusing finger at, "The urban sophisticates and their p o l l parrot, cocktail party imitators," who, he claims, "...Sneer at simplistic sentimentalism and gleefully quote the c r i t i c s J*1 He goes on to describe the ordeal faced by New York theatre artists and producers on opening night and of writers of a l l genres after l a c e r a t i n g criticism from "the daili e s . " In a l l such doings involving the arts we must have the word of c r i t i c s . Jove with his bolts of lightning l i c k s his 5 Olympian chops and gives a young Hamlet a shock that w i l l blow him right out of his buskins. Minerve with her ser-pent's tongue sharpens a venomous tooth and transfixes budding Ophelia id-th a spiteful jab. As to the theater, the play-wrights and their angels chew their nails to the quick at Sardi's, tremble at The Lambs and nervously sop up martinis at The Players as they wait the midnight verdict of the c r i t i c s . And I think of the writers who pray that the weeklies and monthlies w i l l be lander than the Times. The Post and Women's Wear Daily. Frequently and understandably the a r t i s t howls, "Unfair!", "Parasite," while nursing his wounds. The c r i t i c as a pain-inflicting parasite i s also commented upon by American composer Ned Rorem i n an art i c l e entitled "Performing Arts Cri t i c s Criticized." After praising the c r i t i c a l a b i l -i t y of composers Igor Stravinsky and V i r g i l Thomson, Rorem goes on to note that," i s no coincidence that, more than the others [ c r i t i c s previously mentioned i n the article?), i n the realest sense they know what they are writing about. When true v i t a l i t y i s found criticism seems superfluous... Music criticism, sparkling on i t s own (forget about what's being c r i t i -cized), turns d u l l and meaningless before x-ftiat needs dissecting."2 The smarting a r t i s t i s not the only skeptic. Critics themselves do not always approve of their colleagues* means. "The professional boxer goes i n for modified murder, the professional c r i t i c for l i t e r a r y mayhem and thinly disguised sadism," writes c r i t i c Moses, i n a scathing analysis of what he terms "the professional faultfinder." "Many lady c r i t i c s scold l i k e fishwives without the saving grace of Billingsgate, and the male con-tingent resembles the eunuchs i n the seraglio, experts but not participants. Those who can, do. Those can't, sneer."3 In a similar vein Robert Evett, composer and critic^conceeds that while a c r i t i c "must be free to express his own opinions, whether they are positive or not...this i s a profession that attracts people to i t who enjoy being nasty, and such people should not be given a public forum." Bemusedly and somewhat apologetically, he reminisces about his own apprenticeship. "When I was twenty years old, 6 I was a fine example of the young critic who was full of beans and thought that I was performing a public service by attacking it [a composition by Vaughn Williams]. Many critics are musicians who have dropped out of the profession, and though some of them are unusually good, others are poison-ous. A complete ignoramus is preferable to a disappointed pianist who, having got no place himself, is determined to cut everybody else down to 4 nothing." Whatever the accusations of critics' incompetence and however much such accusations are justified, critics have become an inescapable fact of life and art. Readers want advice on how to spend their time and their dollars to best advantage, and publications need critics to provide this service. Artists who grow too close to their creations often find an out-side perspective of interest. Therefore, to make the best "use" of criti-cism it would seem necessary that both reader and artist know as much as possible about the critic's credentials. However, information regarding a critic's qualifications as well as discussion of his critical approach is difficult to find. Publications containing musical criticism rarely bolster credibility by giving resumes of professional training or experi-ence, and the critics themselves for reasons best known to themselves seldom volunteer such information. Identifying the Critics However, the reader who wishes to discover the credentials of many of the current magazine critics need only visit a reference library. Baker1s  Biographical Dictionary of Musicians contains information concerning the following critics: Olin, Downes, Robert Evett, Evertt Helm, Paul Hume, Harold Rosenthal, Robert Sabin, Winthrop Sargeant, Harold C. Schonberg, Victor Seroff, Howard Taubman, Lester Trimble, and Herbert Weinstock all 7 of whose work will be examined in this paper. Who's Who in Music pro-vides information on Roland Gellat, Robert Jacobson, Newell Jenkins, William Fense Weaver, Thomas Heintz, Peter Heyworth, and Irving Kolodin. Both guides provide information about the critic's musical education and training, describe his musical and journalistic career and list all com-positions or books he may have published. (See Appendix for complete information.) Such information is useful and reassuring when attempting to evaluate a critic's work; however, by the time a critic becomes pres-tigious enough to be mentioned in either Baker1s Dictionary or Who's Who his credentials may have become self-evident to the regular reader. Further-more, certain conclusions may also be reached about a critic's qualifications through his failure to appear in any of these guides. For instance, one might doubt the critical astuteness of a reviewer such as Ronald Eyer who wrote regularly for Musical America over many years yet never merited an entry in any work of musical reference. Unfortunately, neither reference books nor logical surmise, can identify and, thereby, ascertain the merit of the neophyte who has just written either a scathing or an ecstatic review of a world-renowned artist. Critical Self-Analysis Besides being evidence of scholarly endeavour, books written by jour-nalistic critics often provide information to the attitudes of these men toward their responsibilities as reviewers. In his preface to The Con- tinuity of Music, Irving Kolodin gives the following modest description of his experience and, thus, suggests his own qualifications: What follows is a statement of observations, correlations, and conclusions based on a listening experience available to few at any time, and none prior to, say, 1935. This statement is put forth with no pride or vanity, but to identify an oppor-tunity as well as to state an obligation. Having had the privilege, during more than 30 years of 8 professional concern with the subject, of record-listening by day and attendance at public events by night, 1 estimate my investment therein to be something more than 40,000 hours. Total flight time does not of necessity make the best pilot, nor does listening time alone assure responsible judge-ment* But insofar as either is unique, so are the observations, deliberations and conclusions thus made possible. Tbjey consti-tute a body of information beyond the acquisition of anyone denied the opportunity,and merit public circulation, if not agreement and support. In addition, Kolodin provides: in the preface to his book The Metropolitan  Opera information about professionalism of fellow critic Herbert Weinstock. "It ["The Metropolitan Opera] would not, in any case, have been what it is without the continuing devoted interest of Herbert Weinstock, whose under-standing of the subject fulfilled-—again—-an author's ideal of what an editor should be."*' On the other hand, Winthrop Sargeant's autobiography In Spite of Myself is only inferentially revealing of his critical stance. Although it serves primarily to disclose the not very astonishing fact that an influential critic may be human and fallible, the book also recounts Sargeant's inten-sive early musical training culminating in a brief career as a profession-al violinist. Further, Sargeant describes the efforts poured into his early reviews for The New Yorker; Now, The New Yorker, as everyone knows, is a sophisticated magazine that demands a polished style. Much of what it prints is regarded as literature rather than journalism... I felt that The New Yorker demanded my best efforts...Now, looking back, I can see that my enormous reverence for the prestige of The New Yorker was somewhat naive. It is, after-all just a magazine, though it is one of very high standards. But at the time, the honor of writing for it seemed over-whelming and this honour conferred upon me the attendant obligation of being the most skillful writer of music criti-cism in the world. As a matter of fact, the mus^ c criticism I wrote for The New Yorker was exceedingly good. B. H. Haggin provides the most direct and satisfying answers to a probe of his critical activities although his precise qualifications other than lengthy service as music critic for the Nation are not disclosed. Each 9 of his books is prefaced by lengthy and energetic manifestos of his critical philosophy, which are especially interesting in view of his rep-utation as a "poison pen" critic. Answering the charge of being gratu-itously venomous Haggin quotes Bernard Shaw: There was the impressario1s plea for criticism that was helpful, constructive, considerate of the fact that he was doing the utmost that existing circumstances allowed. 'That does not shake me,1 answered Shaw, 'since I know that the critic who accepts existing circumstances loses from that moment all his dynamic quality...His real business is to find fault; to ask for more; to knock his head against stone walls, in the full assurance that three or four good heads will batter down any wall that stands across the world's path.' 8 Music Observed, a collection of Haggin's critical reviews, further i l l u -minates his critical approach: Long devebped and reasoned judgement even when unfavorable, is not a prejudice; and though it is likely to be a strongly expressed conviction, a man whose strongly held convictions are long-developed and reasoned judgements cannot be called opinionated, and his strong expression of such judgements can-not be called dogmatic. Not only must he be granted the right to his reasoned judgements, but his function, his duty, his sole usefulness as a critic, i f he is one, is to state them— to state, that is, the reasons with the judgements. For criti-cism is not the mere opinion that this piece of music or this performance is good and that one is bad; it is the reasons for the opinion, in which the critic applies to what he has heard the insights that constitute his value to his readers. However, lest the reader take the critic's opinion as dogma Haggin is careful to note elsewhere that^ The critic uses his powers to animate those of his readers— but only to animate, not to dictate; what he says about a piece of music is true for the reader only if it is confirmed by the reader's own ears. And each critic writes for the group of people who have found his perceptions and^  evaluations sufficiently confirmed by their own experience. Although it assumes an intelligent and knowledgable reader, the previous statement contains disheartening implications concerning the reality of the critical function. Needless to say, critical dictatorship is to be ided but is criticism, therefore, relegated to mere reiteration and 10 sanctification by the press of some readers opinions? Too often the public accepts unquestioningly. Periodicals as Sources It has been previously pointed out that pertinent facts about the critics are rarely revealed in opera reviews. Nevertheless, either care-ful perusal on a regular basis of the magazines in which the reviews are found or systematic search through the Reader1s Guide to Periodical Liter- ature will often uncover supplementary articles on the subject of music criticism. For instance, Ned Rorem's "Critics Criticized" in Performing  Arts magazine presents an artist's opinion of several leading critics; Some spokesmen, like the a/ant-garde Kostelanet, z, on the one hand or the rock critic Richard Goldstein on the other, set up straw men so as to plug an issue; they are nevertheless, passionate specialists. Some, like Hentoff or Poirer, while shining brightly in their respective domains on politics and literature, are simply uninformed in matters musical, treat-ing those matters precisely as literature and politics. Others describe those matters sociologically, peripherally as 'homo-sexual'—-which is always absorbing. Still others, like Simon and Rich, describe them within a professional context and are a pleasure to read. H Another attitude as to the function of a critic is to be found in Robert Evett's article "The Critics and the Public." After discussing the duties, responsibilities and integrity required of a reviewer Evett sums up in the following manners What is under review is the whole show. Every aspect of a musical event is the legitimate concern of a reader. Whether a reviewer's duty is to his boss, or his readers, or his art, or his own conscience, I don't know, but it is not possible to write a balanced review without balancing all of the elements. Since any kind of recourse, legal or otherwise, is bad form for someone unfairly mauled by the press, the critic must be his own disciplinarian. The point seems to be to say what he feels he must, and as little as possible that he will later regret. " Recalling a scandal concerning editorial harassment of a critic with un-listically high standards Evett, provides the following not altogether 11 flattering cameo of an up-and-coming critici The critic was George Gelles, who at twenty-seven, had spent most of his adult life in the Boston area and had written so extensively for other papers that his taste and cast of mind were matters of public record...* He was highly trained in musicology and given to writing well-informed, sophisticated, erudite reviews. He also adopted a school-marmish, nitpicking posture and often severely scolded the people that came under his inspection. ^ Such a description strongly implies what Evett feels a would-be critic should avoid. A more positive discussion of a fellow critic appeared when Herbert Weinstock was given a comprehensive obituary by his colleague and sometime collaborator Irving Kolodin: Herbert Weinstock1s first contribution to Saturday Review1s music coverage dates to early 1948 which is to say, but a few months after the inception of the "Recordings" section in Sept. 1947. He last appeared in September's Multi-Media issue, only a few weeks before his death of heart failure in a routine sur-gical procedure. In between there were rare issues in which Weinstock1s name did not appear as author of a perceptive, in-formed comment on a recording, occasionally a concert or an opera, or a foreign happening dispatched during his summers abroad. Weinstock's participation in the long run of musical mate-rial that appeared in _Sj_ Rj_ since 1947 went beyond his own com-ments. He was responsible for bringing to attention the celebrated article by Teodoro Celli on Maria Callas that appeared in an issue of the late '50's, and he also translated it from the Italian. He was an invariable source of information on any knotty problem that might have presented itself in the wide range of material that accumulated during the '50's and '60's.... A productive, disciplined worker, Weinstock also devoted a portion of his time to serving as consulting editor for the pub-lishing firm of Alfred A. Knopf, and, thus, had a creative part in the appearance over several decades of numerous invaluable additions to the literature of materis musica. One thinks of Frank Walker on Wolf and Verdi, of Patrick Smith's recent libretto book, Joseph Kerman's Beethoven Quartets, various Stravinsky-Craft collaborations, etc. Weinstock's work has done him proud and is his best monument. Short of addressing letters of inquiry to either the critics themselves or their editors the previous quotations suggest the slim sources available to the interested reader: biographical reference books; books written by the 12 critics; and occasional magazine articles discussing musical criticism. As a result of this scarcity of information, the simplest and probably the most commonly adopted practice is for the concerned reader to put his trust in the hands of the publication, assuming that a reputable newspaper or magazine would hire only qualified critics. The Journalistic Process The various stages an article undergoes before reaching the printed page are often complex. Winthrop Sargeant's account of the manner in which an article in Time or Life is assembled is illuminating. I had been hired by Time Magazine as a writer on music. To my great delight, it was discovered some time afterward that I knew too much about music to write about in with the "fresh approach" demanded by Time. They didn't need an ex-pert there; they Sdmply wanted a general writer. The trick was, of course, to write about something you knew little or nothing about but could bone up on in a hurry— one of the basic techniques of journalism. Time Magazine was at the time, and no doubt s t i l l is, one of the most efficient machines for the production of news copy—written with a fair amount of depth—that has ever been created. In its offices, the subject of an article would be presented by the writer to the magazine editor at a preliminary conference, and either accepted or rejected. If accepted, the subject would be passed on to one of an army of competent and attrac-tive "researchers"—most of them Vassar, Wellesley and Smith girls—who promptly set about digging up all the known facts about i t , using as sources encyclopedias, specialized books, the imcomparable Time morgue (or "library", as it was euphe-mistically called), the wire press services and the newspapers. If necessary, the researcher would interview personally anyone involved with the subject and write a complete report, with quotations. A couple of days later all her material would be placed on the writer^ desk. He would then read through i t , digest its most suitable items and write his piece. The piece would then go to the departmental editor, who would cut, re-write, and polish i t , and then send it out to the managing editor, who might make a few small changes before putting it in its final form. It would then go back to the researcher, who would check every word to be sure that every stated fact was correct. Once corrected it would go, with perhaps a cut or two, to the printer. It will be noticed that in this process, the responsibilities of the writer were minimal. All he had to do was string words together fairly acceptably. Whether they were true or not was not his concern. Truth, or fact, was solely the responsibility of the editors. This was a situation calculated to spoil good writers. But the machine, 1 3 grinding on week after^week, was actually a fairly efficient school of journalism. As an example of the way in which the journalistic process can corrupt a critic's integrity this quotation needs no further comment. Although Sargeant's earlier remarks concerning his working methods for The New  Yorker provide an encouraging contrast to this gloomy picture of journa-listic corruption, on the whole, it is not surprising that the conscientious critic often finds his working environment defeating. Ndt only are critics subject to editorial whims, but they also ex-perience great difficulties with their publishers. In attempting to explain the process by which one becomes a music critic Robert Evett quotes Virgil Thomson's answer to the question, "What do you need to be a music critic?" "' Well,' ' he said, 'the first thing you need is a job.'" "And ho*$", Evett continues, "is this done? Surely nobody answering that great grammar school question 'What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up* ever put down 'critic', let alone 'music c r i t i c ' And it is doubtful that anybody ever got a job as music critic by applying for i t . This is one field in which they ask you." ^ This statement would seem to suggest that the potential critic already possesses a considerable reputation. However, Evett con-tinues with a disheartening description of what the circumstances can be even when one is reputable enough to be asked. He recalls an interview which he himself was given for a position with a metropolitan daily which "consisted mostly of bawling me out in advance for all the things I would do wrong, if I got the job....The paper used music coverage as a form of public relations, to build goodwill in the community....This editor didn't once ask me if I knew anything about music or had any right to write about i t . Or, for that matter, whether I could write about anything. He wanted a Goodwillnik...." Evett cites the previously mentioned case of George 14 Gelles, who became the victim of his own high standards. Gelles was engaged as music critic by a Boston daily which gave "the impression of being addressed to the upward mobile white-working-class, and...the last place you would look for serious criticism," despite the fact that he was already a critic well-known in the Boston area. "What is perfectly possible is that whoever hired him did so without taking the precaution of reading some samples of his work and decided only when it was too late that the pro-duct was not quite what the Herald wanted," Evett reports. The newspaper subsequently tried to discharge Gelles who resisted their action. The ensuing legal battle became a test case of the rights of the individual critic in the face of editorial interference. Although Gelles won his case, the fact remains that the relationship between a critic and his publisher is s t i l l more often than not, a delicate one open to abuse. However, Evett does emphasize the distinction between writing for city dailies, on the one hand, and magazines and "learned journals," on the other. A critic writing for a learned journal normally works within his specialty, whatever that is. A critic who works for a magazine also enjoys a privileged status in that he can write about pretty much what he pleases. But the music critic of a metropolitan daily has a split-level job. He may find that, in the ordinary performance of his duties, he has to listen to music that is of no interest to him and to make judgements that are entirely beyond his competence. The music page lives off the land. Any event^ljhat is open to the public is subject to newspaper coverage. The implications of Evett1s discussion is clearly that magazines are more reliable than daily newspapers in the quality of their criticism. The magazines, in turn, however, must be separated: those with the "newsy" approach from those containing serious analysis. When one has found out as much as one can about a critic through all the previously discussed channels and has estimated the standards of the publication for which he 15 writes, one is finally ready to evaluate a critic's work with confidence. Callas, Tebaldi and Critical Biases For accurate diagnosis of critical perceptions it is essential that the factors which may cloud critic's objectivity are recognized. The scrupulous critic will include in his review a list of his biases-and;this particular technique of criticism will be dealt with fully when it occurs in the particular reviews under consideration. It was the nature of the Callas/Tebaldi rivalry that the heated argument and endless comparison it inspired clearly delineated the personal prejudices of many of the major critics. For instance, Irving Kolodin in an article "Callas Remembers Bing" vigourously defends Callas' personal and artistic integrity against the accusations of Rudolf Bing* the Metropolitan Opera Company's strong-willed general manager. Even the best of critics may have his idiosyncra-tic likes and dislikes and the polarities represented by Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi inevitably brought these biases to the fore. Kolodin's article, was a rebuttal to another selection in the same issue of Saturday  Review entitled "Bing Remembers Callas," which aired some of Mr. Bing's not always gracious comments about the diva. Kolodin concludes his de-fense of the controversial singer with the following scathing paragraph: Stripping the verbiage from all sides of the story, it is clear that Bing's contention, "I could not have yielded to her urgently expressed whims and continued to keep the Metropolitan going as an artistic enterprise," is a para-phrase for his belief that the Met had room for, in Bing's time, onlYgOne prima donna assoluta, the general manager himself. It will be seen in future chapters that Kolodin, though generally a cautious reviewer, often gives the impression of stretching the bounds of his own integrity to praise Callas. The article "Callas Remembers Bing" would certainly seem to be an example of this bias. 16 A s i m i l a r bias may be seen i n an a r t i c l e by William Weaver e n t i t l e d "Just P l a i n Maria." Behind t h i s fabulous facade there i s a f a s c i n a t i n g , ap-pealing humamibeing, a g i r l who, barely past t h i r t y , has struggled hard to get to the top, who by her determined e f f o r t s has i n these few years made h e r s e l f a household word wherever the art of singing i s considered.... Fortunately f o r her admirers, she has never been and never w i l l be " j u s t p l a i n " anything. She i s something far more t h r i l l i n g than tjust an opera s t a r . To the stranger, meeting her for the f i r s t time, she may not seem immediately lovable; but the more one knows her, the more one admires her i n f i n i t e courage and devotion to her work. She doesn't just want to be c a l l e d the best singer today, she wants to be the best. And she i s obviously going to go on f i g h t i n g , not sparing h e r s e l f or those around her, towards that goal.19 Writing for Saturday Review i t i s l i k e l y that Weaver picked h i s own topic and had an a c t i v e i n t e r e s t i n C a l l a s to begin with. Furthermore, the tone of the piece suggests the praise of a convert ("...she may not seem immediately lovable, but...etc.") and though the convert often becomes a zealot, h i s conversion generally r e s u l t s from much soul searching. One might reasonably conclude then, that while anything written by William Weaver about Maria Callas i s l i k e l y to be biased i n her favour, Weaver's bias i s c l e a r l y the r e s u l t of thoughtful choice. However, inference i s unnecessary regarding Herbert Weinstock's champ-ionship of C a l l a s . His t r a n s l a t i o n of C e l l i ' s adfulatory analysis of the Callas art engendered a storm of reader controversy. Although the a r t i c l e represented the opinion of another, Weinstock's accordance with t h i s opin-ion i s made p l a i n by the act of t r a n s l a t i o n . In f a c t , he confessed h i s p a r t i a l i t y p u b l i c l y i n a piece he wrote f o r Opera News i n 1965 e n t i t l e d "Woman of the Week." He prefaces a b r i e f biography of Callas with the avowal that, "The w r i t e r of the present a r t i c l e , C a l l a s ' f r i e n d f o r more than eight years, continues to believe that she belongs with Mary Garden and Fyodor Chaliapin among the few great singing a r t i s t s who have been 17 able to bring dramatic verisimilitude and vitality to what is, after al l , at least as much a theatrical as a musical entertainment."20 Weinstock's preference for Callas above other sopranos is made even clearer in an article entitled "Maria, Renata, Zinka...and Leonora" in which he compares the recorded interpretations of these sopranos as the heroine of Verdi's JJ. Trovatore.• Dismissing both Zinka Milanov and Renata Tebaldi in four gracious, but succinct paragraphs, he devotes nearly twice as much space to Callas. Beginning his review with the statement, "The real glory of this recording is Maria Meneghini Callas," Weinstock con-cludes, "I judge her to be the most accomplished soprano actress of our time. For the acceptance of that belief, the new recording of "II Trovatore" happily supplies the most convincing of arguments; a great performance at once serious, accurate, and dazzling."21 An interesting aftermath of Weinstock's comparison of the three singers was the violent reaction which prompted Saturday Review to publish a special page of letters to the editor under the title "Maria, Renata, and Zinka." The readers' comments range through effusive expressions of gra-titude at having their own opinions so eloquently echoed, to polite and knowledgeable debate on certain points of contention, to virulent disa-greement with Weinstock1s obvious preference for Callas as Leonora. These letters in so far as they may be considered representative of the reader-ship of Saturday Review will be discussed more fully in the final chapter. As they relate to the role of the critic himself, however, one of these letters should be singled out. Donald McDonald, then editor of The  Catholic Message, chastised Mr. Weinstock for "committing the ancient error of thinking that the musical reputation of one singer can only be built upon the ruins of the reputation of other singers." McDonald 18 closes his letter with this comment: "Weinstock1s shrill petulancy on behalf of Miss Callas seems rather out of place in jJR's music department which has, in the past, presented some great musically knowledgeable articles on Gieseking, Chopin interpretators, Toscanini, etc."22 Here is a fellow journalist warning of the dangers of emotionally based parti-sanship and suggesting that good criticism should be impassive if not impartial. Roland Gellat writing for the Reporter in 1956 also compares the three divas in his article "The Met's Top Three Sopranos." Though less outspoken in his preference than Weinstock, Gellat also favours Miss Callas. He begins his commentary with the seemingly disparaging description of "an intense, self-conscious woman who demonstrates better than any since Mary Garden the supremacy of mind over matter. Her voice con-sidered simply as a voice is not a great one." He goes on, however, to praise the results of her compensatory efforts. "On stage Miss Callas is a formidable artist. Her concern for style, allied to keen theatrical sen-sibility, enables her to dominate a vast opera with imperfect vocal equip-ment." Tebaldi, too, is initially dealt with harshly when Gellat applies Ernest Newman?s quip about Melba to her. "Uninterestingly perfect and perfectly uninteresting." Yet, like Callas, Tebaldi is ultimately given her due. "If it were only for her Desdemona in Verdi's Otello, she would be remembered as a soprano of high achievement; here, particularly in the last act, she evokes exquisitely the aura of subdued innocence that is implicit in the score and she produces some of the most pearly vocalism committed to records in the high-fidelity era." However, Gellat*s summation of Miss Tebaldi's artistry, is less enthusiastic than his summation of Miss Callas. "She is, over the loudspeaker and in thevopera house, utterly dependable. Perhaps too dependable. Miss Tebaldi's chief 19 shortcoming is her matter-of-fact approach to the high art of musical characterization." Of Callas he concludes, ',!In this era of pallid opera-tic personalities it is refreshing to encounter a singer with a mind at work and with the vitality to project conviction."23 Lest it be thought that Tebaldi had no partisans among the critics, it should be pointed out that Victor Seroff once rhapsodized, "...Oh, who would not give his happiness for her was not a man,"24 and that John Ferris' quietly admiring tribute to Tebaldi was entitled "Angelic Voice." If Tebaldi's admirers have been less conspicuous and less vehement than those of Callas it is possible that the tranquil aura that the singer created evoked a quieter form of applause. "After all," writes Ferris, "Tebaldi is human, and surely this is why she is so loved."25 The Statistics of Journalistic Criticism Let us now turn briefly to a report published in 1970 called "Critics and Criticism in the Mass Media" which contains statistics about the effect-iveness, integrity, and quality of "that perenially picaresque, impertinent, but ineradicable creature—the mass media critic." Most of the generali-ties suggested in this chapter are confirmed or at least supported by the report. According to its findings newspapers are regarded by those in the field of journalism as the most influential critical medium with magazines ranking considerably lower and television criticism at the bottom. How-ever, television is believed to be the growing medium for criticism, but it is unfortunately the medium the most plagued by critical superficialities and editorial pressures. All media, it seems to me, select critics who more or less mirror their audiences. A serious critic should be willing to cut against the grain of his own audience's biases. The values 20 held by TV-radio take a more serious view of their work; they think that "criticism, to deserve the name, should make some contribution to scholarship..., but the majority are concerned about the tendency to become esoteric and "in-groupy" and to ignore the responsibility of criticism to a broader public." A significant minority feel pressures upon them to censor, restrict, and slant. They imply that they are keenly aware of the danger and are successful in resisting such pressures— at least the most blatant and crude variety.... The first two sentences of the quotation bear implications which will be discussed in a later chapter. In the meantime, it is significant to note that, New York City critics and editors received more restrictions from within their own organizations than from their colleagues in other parts of the country. At present most [critics] are journalists who stumble, mainly by chance, into criticism later on in their careers. Half the visible critics felt that they had been hired for their competence as journalists, and half for that competence plus a special background in the field they were to criticize. Only two out of thirty-six art critics, it is interesting to note, felt they were hired solely because of their expertise in the field. Critics receive little or no special training or super-vision on the job. Editors, when they were asked where they would look for likely candidates, most often replied that they would look at people within their own medium or on their own staffs (journalists) and less often at people with formal train-ing and/or expertise in arts. On the other hand, ithe majority of critics in all media and on all topics favored "a defined curriculum—broad and interdisciplinary—for students who want to go into criticism as a career."26 Conclusion One of the problems inherent in attempting to analyze journalistic criticism is that of organizing the vast amount of disparate data into a comprehensivle pattern. The task of exactly matching journals, critics, singers and performances for comparison often proves impossible. A few of the critics about whom information has been proferred in this chapter do not in fact appear in the main body of this thesis. However, the information 21 has been included in these cases with the thought that it aids in illuminat-ing some general point about critics, Callas and Tebaldi, or the diffi-culties involved in acquiring information about critics. We have now scrutinized the critic as a person and as a professional to the extent that one of his readers might, given the sources readily available to the general public. It has been shown that, whereas, the aver-age reader may seem prone to take the critics word as gospel, the practicing musician and even fellow critics tend to view him with considerable sus-pician. The background and critical philosophy of several critics has been presented. It has also been shown that reputable publications them-selves may be the best criteria for judging the integrity and the expertise of the critical analyses they contain, though respectable, well regarded, newsworthy publications are not necessarily the ones containing the most complete critical coverage of artistic events. We have touched upon the personal biases of a few individual critics with regard to the two perform-ers under observation. Lastly, the effectiveness of all popular criticism has been examined with newspapers discovered to rank as the most influen-tial vehicles for ideas. Before moving on to examine the early careers of Callas and Tebaldi let us look at the following cautionary statement by music critic Robert Evett which provides an appropriate closing note to this brief introduc-tion to the critics: Newspaper reviews, most of them written under pressure, do not always say precisely what the reviewer meant. They are ground out in the middle of the night, usually under pressure, and are sent to the printers in the first draft. Even if the draft makes good sense, typesetters, night editors, and emergency cutters can make hash of i t . This being the case, it's hard to understand why so many people take the stuff of reading it over and over again for innuendos that were probably never there, and memorizing the key words and phrases as if they were revelations. But they do. I do it myself.27 22 iRobert Moses, "Observations," National Review 24 (April 14, 1972): 416. 2Ned Rorem, "Critics Criticized," Performing Arts 241 (August, 1970): 90-2 ^Robert Moses, "Observations," National Review 24 (April 14, 1972): 416. ^Robert Evett, "The Critics and the Public," Atlantic (Monthly) 226 (September, 1970): 117-23. ^Irving Kolodin, The Continuity of Music (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1969), pp. v-vi. 6lrving Kolodin, The Metropolitan Opera, 1883-1966, A Candid History, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1966), p. v i i i . 7winthrop Sargeant, In Spite of Myself—A Personal Memoir (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1966), p. 49. 8B. H. Haggin, Music in the Nation (William Sloane Associates, Inc., 1970), p. v i i i . B^. H. Haggin, Music Observed (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), p. 3. 10B. H. Haggin, The New Listener1s Companion (New York: Horizon Press, 1967), p. 4. llNed Rorem, "Critics Criticized," Performing Arts 241 (August, 1970): 90-2. 12Robert Evett, "The Critics and the Public," Atlantic;(Monthly) 226 (September, 1970): 117-23. 13lbid. 14lrving Kolodin, "Obituary," Saturday Review 58 (November 27, 1971): 79. 15winthrop Sargeant, In Spite of Myself—A Personal Memoir (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1966^ , p. 231-2. 16Robert Evett, "The Critics and the Public,'* Atlantic (Monthly) 226 (September, 1970): 117-23. 1 7Ibid. ISirving Kolodin, "Callas Remembers Bing, Which Was the Prima Donna?" Saturday Review 55 (October 14, 1972): 41. 19William Weaver, "Just Plain Maria," Saturday Review 39 (October 27, 1956): 36-37. 20Herbert Weinstock, "Woman of the Week," Opera News 29:19 (March 20, 1965):27. 23 21Herbert Weinstock, "Maria, Renata, Zinka...and Leonora," Saturday  Review 40 (April 13, 1957): 56-7. 22"Maria, Renata, and Zinka," Saturday Review 40 (April: '13,21957) :D44 23R0land Gellat, "The Met's Top Three Sopranos," Reporter,15 (November 29, 1956): 39-40. 24Victor Seroff, "Tebaldi Up-to Date," Saturday Review 38 (February 26, 1955): 42. 25john Ferris, "Angelic Voice," Opera News 29 (January 30, 1965): 27. 26R0bert Lewis Shayon, "Critics on the Critics," Saturday Review 53:52 2?Robert Evett, "The Critics and the Public," Atlantic (Monthly),226 (September, 1970): 117-23. 24 CHAPTER II - DEBUT AMERICA A remarkable parallel exists between the careers of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. The two women are within a year of one another in age and both underwent similar patterns of musical and vocal training, beginning with piano lessons as children and studying with only one voice teacher throughout. Their early careers also developed along similar lines with each singer becoming the protegee of one of the most highly regarded operatic conductors of the century. Each soprano achieved her initial success through the influence and instruction of her respective maestro. Arturo Toscanini encouraged Tebaldi and Tullio Serafin instructed Callas. Although Toscanini provided the initial impetus for Tebaldi*s career by selecting her as soloist for the reopening of La Scala in 1946, and although she continued to enjoy his patronage for many years, the young soprano succeeded primarily because of natural ability. Years later Victor Seroff reminiscing at the time of her Metropolitan debut described her thus: In 1946 I had written from Milan that this then youthful internationally unknown, soprano would have a triumph if and when she came to New York. We had met during that summer when she was "the talk of the town." She was then almost twenty-five and the most strik-ing girl of the Italian stage. The tall, dark-haired^blue-eyed diva radiated [so much] beauty, grace and charm...." On the other hand, Maria Callas with her more intellectually sculpted vir-tues bloomed later requiring an additional three year gestation period. Coincidentally, Miss Callas' debut at La Scala was as a last minute re-placement for the indisposed Tebaldi and, if the saga sung by the popular press has any truth she began immediately to edge her predecessor out the stage door. Whether Callas actually made a calculated effort to stamp out Tebaldi's supremacy at La Scala, or whether Tebaldi herself decided to move 25 onto new territory, the fact remains that Tebaldi sang less and less at the house that had been her operatic home. Tebaldi in San Francisco Inevitably, the United States beckoned Tebaldi. Already her reputa-tion as the radiant, serene leading lady of one of the world's great opera houses had reached America, and there was no shortage of interest or offers forthcoming from New York. Somewhat surprisingly, however, it was the San Francisco Opera Company rather than the Metropolitan which managed to ob-tain her first. She made her American debut in San Francisco opening the 1950 season with Aida and following with performances as Desdemona and Tosca. Time Magazine covered the performances, thus, giving Tebaldi her first national exposure in the American press. In an article entitled "Beating the Met" she was described as, "Tall and expressive" and making "a big impression both physically and vocally....Her flexible and powerful voice, known in the U. S. only on records brought down the house in her 2 first (Ritorna vinicitor) and third-act (Patria mia) arias." Marjorie M. Fisher, San Francisco correspondent for Musical America wrote the following brief review of two of Tebaldi's performances: San Francisco's 28th annual opera season opened in the War Memorial Opera House on Sept. 26 with a performance of Verdi's Aida that aroused more interest than usual on the part of the traditionally fashion-conscious, capacity audience, for three singers of international reputation were making their American operatic debuts.... Tall and good looking, Miss Tebaldi made an exceptionally fine appearance on stage, although her acting was characterized by the use of stock, stilted gestures. Her voice, not outstand-ingly lustrous in quality, was at its best in the pianissimo passages of the Nile Scene, and she sang beautifully with tell-ing artistry. Otello, on Oct. 10, brought Renata Tebaldi as Desdemona and Ramon Vinay in the title role. Miss Tebaldi was not a very delicate figure as Desdemona, but she was always pretty and graceful. She did full justice to the Verdi score, and sang the Ave Maria in particular, with 26 rare beauty. Her pianissimos^were exquisite, and her singing was magificently controlled. Too detailed a dissection of such brief comments might prove misleading. However, several points are worth noting. First, this critic, in both cases chose to mention the physical impact of the performer in the role before analysing her voice and her singing. Despite the implied primacy of dramatic effectiveness over beautiful singing and her disparaging des-cription of Miss Tebaldi1s "stock, stilted gestures" and "Not [a] very delicate figure," Miss Fisher was content to off set the lack of accurate detail of characterization with the generally attractive physical appear-ance of the singer coupled with her ability to move through the drama with-out jarring the mood or the story line. Fisher's critical eye narrowed when considering Tebaldi's vocal accomplishments. The voice, which had already thrilled Europe and which was later to be often referred to as "one of the voices of the century," received a lukewarm reception in this instance being judged as "not outstandingly lustrous in quality." Even taking into account the vagaries of the human vocal instrument, the critic's summation is indicative of the lofty standards being applied. Tebaldi seems to have redeemed herself in Fisher's estimation, however, by her technical expertise and her feeling for the music. Similarly Irving Kolodin, covering the same San Francisco performances for Saturday Review, mentioned Miss Tebaldi's acting in cursory fashion at the end of his comments on her singing of Aida. Of Puccini's Tosea he went on to note that: ...Miss Tebaldi's superbly pliant voice, her feel for line and phrase, her responsive sense of drama dominate everything else. f'Meyerberian display" cluttering the first two acts o f Aidal. However, the crux of Tosca is Act II, and there Tebaldi drives over and beyond the limitations of her associates to a singular auditory experience. Not only does she carry the dramatic load womanfully on her shoulders, she imparts a cold 27 fury to the destruction of Scarpia which, for once, gives r e a l i t y to these t h e a t r i c s . However, she i s decidedly less the voice f o r the Tosca of Act I, i n which she overplays the capriciousness of the char-acter i n rather s h r i l l tones. As i n Fisher's review, the te c h n i c a l s k i l l and mu s i c a l i t y of the singer were accorded the greatest importance and the highest p r a i s e . Although i n Tosca Tebaldi was given greater c r e d i t f o r e f f e c t i v e acting than she had been accorded for Aida, the remarks again consisted of vague generalizations. The comment, "Carry the dramatic load womanfully on her shoulders," whether i n t e n t i o n a l l y or not, gives the impression that i f a singer trudges through an opera without committing too many blatant p h y s i c a l faux pas, she has given an acceptable acting performance; and that the phrase " c o l d fury" used to describe the opera's dramatic high point suggests acting of the f i r s t order. We see that both the most and least e f f e c t i v e communicative gestures i n the performance are inseparable from the quality of the singing, the success of Tebaldi*s performance being equated to the '.'singular auditory experience" she imparted to Act II and the weakness being equated to her " s h r i l l tones" of Act I. The three reviews just examined represent the exposure given Renata Tebaldi's American debut by the nationa l press. Now l e t us turn to Maria Callas and her progress toward her American debut. Callas* E a r l y Career While Tebaldi was modestly and methodically c u l t i v a t i n g her blossoming rapport with the American opera going p u b l i c , Maria Meneghini Callas was pe r f e c t i n g her c r a f t under the tutelage of Maestro T u l l i o Serafin who had been the f i r s t person of influence to recognize p o t e n t i a l i n the f a t , bespectacled g i r l with the b i g , unorthodox v o i c e . C a l l a s learned her vocal technique from two people: her voice teacher, E l v i r a de Hildalgp, a famous Spanish coloratura soprano, taught her how to sing for dramatic e f f e c t ; 28 and Serafin taught her the process by which to discover dramatic details in the music insisting that, "If you want to learn the action, look at the music and you will find every stage movement written there by the composer." Callas in an article entitled "Callas, Serafin, and the art of Bel Canto," described the detailed : method ©f characterization which Serafin taught and which he expected of his singers. He was an extraordinary coach, sharp as a vecchio lupo ("sly fox"). He opened a world to me, showed me there was a reason for everything, that even the fioritura and tr i l l s , all the coloratura things have a reason in the composer's mind, that they are the expression of the stat d'animp of the character---that is, the way he feels at that moment, the passing emotions that take hold of him. As the young soprano continued to work tirelessly under the Maestro's guid-ance she began to receive more and more ecstatic praise. Interestingly enough in view of later developments,this praise was initially directed, more to the strange beauty of her voice, to her intelligent musicianship and to the remarkable flexibility and versatility of her singing than to her acting abilities. The following brief exerpts from the Italian press clear-ly illustrate this focus: One of the most amazing voices in present-day Italy. ^  Hers is not a light voice, but she negotiated the most difficult coloratura without batting an eye, and her down-ward glissandi made cold shivers run up and down the hearer's spine. Old timers at La Scala pronounced her singing sensational. Milan critics kissed their finger-tips in ecstasy over her "sureness," her "miraculous throat" and the phosphorescent beauty of her middle range. ® About the time she began to acquire artistic success, Callas also acquired an artistic "angel" in the guise of a wealthy husband. Like Seraphin, Batista Meneghini, a successful Turin industrialist and ardent opera buff, saw some-thing special in the Greek-American girl then making a rather discouraging circuit of the lesser Italian opera houses. He married her. Unhappy, un-gainly, ambitious Maria now possessed financial security and emotional support 29 as well as the guidance of a great conductor/director, and the butterfly emerged from the cocoon. In one summer Callas lost 40 pounds and gained the grace, poise and sophistication that has become her hallmark. And it was from this point in her career that her reputation as an actress began to emerge. Rudolf Bing in an excerpt from his memoirs made the following comments on the celebrated metamorphosis: "She looked as though she had been bom to that elegance. Now it became urgent for the Metropolitan to 9 have her." Debut Chicago - Taking America by Storm The Metropolitan, however, did not immediately "have" Callas. With her husband now acting as her business manager, the rising diva began to develop a keen awareness of her value as an operatic commodity. Rather than make a straight-forward debut at the Metropolitan as just one of many new singers engaged by that august company, she chose to make her debut in North America with the newly formed Chicago Lyric Company. The strategy proved effective. Despite the lesser company and despite the then relatively un-familiar opera, Norma by Bellini which she chose as her debut vehicle, the attention which the press accorded the event easily quadrupled that given to Miss Tebaldi's more modest coming out in San Francisco. Life Magazine cov-ered the gala opening of the Chicago season with a three page pictorial arti-cle headlined "Opera Is Grand Again in Chicago," ^ and Time and Newsweek both featured reviews of the performance headlined "Soprano Triumphant" and "Sensation in Chicago" respectively. Newsweek summed up Callas' performance by acknowledging that in a role which "requires ;great range and remarkable flexibility," Callas made it "apparent that she has an abundance of both" and concluded that the tremen-dous crowd response "sealed acceptance of Maria Meneghini Callas as one of the greatest singing actresses of our time." ^  The remainder of Newsweek* s 30 account focused on the social aspects of the event, the performances of the other singers and of the diva's various off-stage tantrums. Time, though giving substantial coverage to the more frivolous aspects of the occasion, did,nevertheless, provide a conscientious analysis of Callas1 per-formance according equal and relatively detailed consideration to both her vocal and acting achievement. ...Soprano Callas lived up to her reputation. With her lissome figure handsomely clad in white and crimson, she looked almost too young and beautiful to be a pagan high priestess. She made a minimum of movement on-stage, achieved precise dramatic effects by the t i l t of her head or the angle of her body, but also elec-trified the crowd with slashing moments of violence, as when she confronted her faithless lover in Act II. Her voice ranged from flutely pianissmos that penetrated to the last row of the dis-tant balcony to mezzo-fortes of melting sweetness to fortes of trumpeting and often edgy fierceness. She may not have the most beautiful voice in the world (a credit often reserved for Italy's Renata Tebaldi or the Metropolitan Opera's Zinka Milanov), but she is certainly the most exciting singer. The two distinctive notes struck by the Time reviewer are his observation of Callas' accurate and economical use of her physical resources and his perception of the clearly conceived and communicated emotional phrasing of her singing. Theatre Arts and Musical America representing more specialized points of view, also gave space to the debut performance. The former, however in-terested more in the event than the artistry, confined its critical remarks to the declaration that, "Whatever the doubts or questions, Mme. Callas hurdled them with ease. In Chicago she was not only a singer with rare range 13 and flexibility, she was also a remarkable dramatic actress as well." Ronald Eyer in Musical America gave a more complete evaluation of the even-ing, beginning his review with a brief analysis of the opera Norma,detailing and the vocal and dramatic demands of the title role/ finally giving his opin-ion as to how well Miss Callas coped with her task. Beginning with the famous "Casta diva" with its long-spun 31 vocal line and five high C's, the vocal demand is relentless and gets no easier as things move along. Immediately it was clear that Maria Meneghini Callas-— American-born girl who long since conquered Milan's La Scala but, until now, known to her own countrymen only on record-ings-—is one of the great dramatic coloraturas of our gener-ation. The voice is excitingly big, vividly colored and meticu-lously schooled. She molds a line as deftly as she tosses off cruelly difficult ornamentations in the highest register. And she brings to everything a passion, a profile of character and a youthful beauty that are rare in our lyric theatre. It is possible to find flaws in Miss Callas' technique-— an occasional spread tone in high fortissimo; a troublesome tremolo in pianissimo. But the net effect is what counts, and that is grand opera singing in the grandest manner. ^ Vocal beauty and vocal skill were apparently the considerations uppermost in Eyer's mind. Yet in contrast to Miss Fisher's review in the same pub-lication five years earlier which had faulted Renata Tebaldi's "not outstand-ingly lustrous voice," it is significant to find in Eyer's review that the "flaws in Maria Callas' technique" are glossed over in deference to the overall effectiveness of the performance. It is of further interest to note that Eyer was particularly impressed by the carefully wrought detail of the performance and to speculate that because of Callas' high degree of artis-tic achievement he was inspired to write a denser critique of Norma than Miss Fisher had written in the same publication of Tebaldi's debut in San Francisco. "She molds a line as deftly as she todies off cruelly difficult ornamentations in the highest register," is surely a more communicative statement than, "She sang beautifully with telling artistry;" and, "...She brings to everything a passion, a profile of character and a youthful beauty that are rare in our lyric theater," says more than, "She was always pretty and graceful." Writing in the same complimentary vein, James Hinton, Jr. for the New York Times hailed Norma as "no doubt the finest achievement of the season so far." In basic accordance with Eyer he agreed that, "the sound of Miss 32 Callas' voice is only part of her effectiveness in the opera house. As those who have heard her by means of electronics know, she can be discon-certingly uneven and she has been in Chicago." In this summation of her acting, Hinton suggested the subtlety and aptness of detail that distin-guish the work of any intelligent and competent artist. "Tall and slender, Miss Callas in the ritual scenes left the audience in no doubt as to why the Gauls submit to Norma's authority. But she was not merely imperious. What was really most impressive was the emotional range that she brought to the human side of her characterization."15 The only major critic of national scope to cover both Miss Tebaldi's and Miss Callas' debuts in the U. S. was Irving Kolodin. He began his review of the Chicago performance with the pronouncement that Callas held the attention of the socially-minded opening night audience by "sheer force of talent and personality...." He went on to observe that, The qualities that made Miss Callas' recorded Norma notable are only the beginning of the effect it makes in the theatre. London knew her as a heavy-set, not-too-active fig-ure when she sang Norma in Covent Garden early in 1953. She has, since then slimmed considerably (as much as 40 lbs. by some calculations.) and is now an electric figure on the stage, charged with a sense of dramatic fitness with alternating cur-rents of fury and repose producing a very direct result on her listeners. I couldn't make out in the mostly dim lighting of Norma whether she is anything close to pretty, but she is cer-tainly as comely as Norma need be. Vocally, the sound Miss Callas produces may best be character-ized as peculiar for it adheres to no conventional concept of tone production. It is substantially an instrumental concept of the human voice she espouses; and like all the great instru-mentalists, she uses it for intensely artistic ends. This is no screamer, no calculation of audience effect. She works on, and with, the voice almost externally. Now shading it to a thin line of filigree in "Casta Diva," later exploding its vengeful power in denunciation of the perfidious Pollione. It is a measure of Maria Callas' increasing command of her remarkable instrument that this "spot," "Casta Diva," was even better arti-culated than the recorded one, that she flung off C's with abandon and a climaxing at the end of Act II with assurance. One thing seems certain: it will get a lot better before it gets worse. She impresses one as that kind of worker.16 Although Kolodin's review is longer and more detailed in its analysis of the 33 Chicago event than any of the reviews mentioned previously, he was elaborating on three points suggested by the shorter critiques. First, Miss Callas1 ability to command the stage and the audience was the result of a combination of vocal sound and physical presence. Second, her talent for inventing original and appropriate details breathed life and credibility into the role. And third, she was able to dominate the musical as well as the theatrical aspects of performance. It is interesting to note that whereas Tebaldi1s appearance, naturally comely and statuesque, was nearly always remarked upon asra-point in her favor, Callas' actual "looks" were of little interest to the commentators, although she had by this time become a strikingly attractive woman in her own right. In fact, Kolodin off-handedly, though perhaps intentionally so, glossed over the sub-ject. One important new facet of Callas' achievement which Kolodin high-lights in this article is the artistfs considerable artistic integrity. In the midst of the lurid tales of her off-stage behaviour, he discerned an on-stage personality which reflected taste and restraint. Yet 'thermostiipcrlguingiaspect of Kolodin's review is the implied paradox between his analysis of Miss Callas' acting and her vocal techniques. He credited her with being an "electric figure on the stage," but his des-cription of her singing style ("J-t is substantially an instrumental concept of the human voice she espouses.... She works on and with the voice al-most externally.") could be construed as suggesting she was a detached and almost dispassionate technician. Later reviews will reinforce this apparent dichotomy for, although no critic ever claimed that Callas sang "from the heart," the strong emotional effect which her highly technical performances had on her audiences was undeniable. 34 Establishing a Basis for Comparison The preceeding reviews complete the national journalistic reports of the American debut performances of two of the most popular and highly regarded sopranos of the middle years of this century. Though similari-ties are evident, the different circumstances surrounding the two debuts must be kept in mind in order to make an accurate analysis of their criti-cal reception. What is being sought through this analysis is not the dis-covery of the unique merits of the two singers, but the detection of those general characteristics which the critics chose to signal their approbation. At first glance it would seem that the combination of talents and skills which Maria Callas possessed constituted the magic formula for overwhelming critical success. However, when we remember how much further Callas was than Tebaldi in her artistic development and keep in mind the extensive press exposure Callas received prior to her arrival (half-a-dozen mentions in Musical America alone concerning her European performances; several record reviews; and cover stories in both Time^7 and Newsweekl8), we might conclude that the critics were victims of their own press releases. The argument has sometimes been px&fexed-:.1. by Callas' detractors that the American critics allowed themselves to be swept up in a wave of "Callas mania" and in turn contributed further to the furor. This, a veritable avalanche of "show biz" publicity was created for a shrewd, but inferior performer. In future chapters, reviews from a later period when Tebaldi's public fame and reputation as an artist had grown enormously and when Callas was suffering vocal difficulties will refute this accusation. However, taking the critic at his word, one must conclude that Tebaldi presented the tradi-tional ideal,that is a maximum of beautiful vocal display and minimum of theatrical flair, and that Callas' abilities were from the first uncon-ventional and unique. 35 The Balance of Critical Values, An Emerging Pattern A pattern of critical evaluation begins to emerge from even this small sampling of opera reviews. The first thing that the reviewer looks for, especially in the case of a new performer, is a quality which is the summation of all the performer's resources and which is probably best described as "presence." The social phenomenon of opera is very much in evidence in these reviews (Kolodin and Fisher make direct mention of it and most of the reviews imply a strong interest), and the critic often seems to regard the ability to command the scattered attention of a somewhat frivolous house by sheer strength of presence to be an indication of a singer's "artistic" merit. In his process of evaluation, the critic then appears to take the initial impact of the performer and holds it up to the character being portrayed to see'how well the "presence" fits the part; and, if there are a few recognizable points of similarity, he is satisfied with the character interpretation and proceeds to listen to the music. It is to the execution of the music that the critic brings his most exacting criteria to bear, demanding a high calibre of vocal performance as the basis of operatic competence. Finally, the acting abilities of the performer are taken into consideration and usually judged as leniently as possible (especially if the ear has been ravished) with any manifestation of skill over and above a suitable "presence" being re-garded as a bonus. The idea of placing equal value on the musical and the theatrical effectiveness of operatic performance seems generally to be acknowledged as correct and desirable by the critics examined thus far. The discrep-ancy, however, between the standards applied to the art of singing and those applied to the art of acting often renders such a union meaningless. When upon rare occasion, the artist's acting skill is something other than 36 pedestrian, the balance of standards shifts. Because her acting did not cpntribute any particular insight into the characters she portrayed, Tebaldi's singing bore the brunt of critical scrutiny and her vocal accomplishment:suffered, under such undivided attention. Callas, who crea-ted Norma using physical as well as vocal resources, deflected some attention from her vocal and musical attributes with the result that the reviewers changed their critical focus. This is not necessarily to imply that the critics lowered their standards, for in Callas' case it was made quite clear that her singing was, in its own fashion, impressive. Rather, the concept of outstanding singing as the sole criterium of operatic excellence seems to swell into more expansive principles than mere note-by-note, tone-by-tone perfection. "The sound of Miss Callas' voice is only part of her effectiveness in theyopera house." sVVocally, the sound Miss Callas produces may best be characterized as pecu-liar for it adheres to no conventional concept of tone production... .Ebut.0 ...she uses it for intensely artistic ends." "She may not have the most beautiful voice in the world, but she is certainly the most exciting singer." Conclusion Perhaps the most interesting and the most significant point to bring up for further speculation at the conclusion of this chapter is the fact that although the critics themselves seem to acknowledge a differentia-tion between singing skills and acting skills, very often the most vivid and meaningful comments in a review about the histrionics of a performance appear to be applied to vocal considerations. Some examples of this have already been mentioned with regards to Tebaldi,and Callas, too, inspired a mixture of analytic genres. "...Her downward glissandi made cold 37 shivers run up and down the bearer's spine." "Her voice ranged from flutely mezzofortes of melting sweetness to fortes of trumpeting and often edgy fierceness." Callas " now an electric figure on the stage, charged with a sense of dramatic fitness with alternating currents of fury and repose producing a very direct result on the listeners." Tebaldi continued to make occasional appearances in the U. S. includ-ing the second season of the Chicago Lyric Theatre Company where she alternated with Callas programming which created an even more spectacular season than the opening one of 1954. Finally, in the winter of 1955 Tebaldi came to the Metropolitan Opera Company as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello. After another highly successful season in Chicago, Callas fol-lowed Tebaldi to the Met in October, 1956, performing once again the opera which had served her so well in Chicago, Norma. 38 1Victor Seroff, "Tebaldi Up-to-Date," Saturday Review 38 (February 26, 1955):42. 2"Beating.the Met," Time 56 (October 9, 1950): 44. %arjorie M. Fisher, "Three Debuts Mark Opening Night Aida in San Francisco," Musical America 70 (Novemberhi, 1950): 3. 4lrving Kolodin, "Aida, Tosea, Don Pasquale," Saturday Review 35 (October 25, 1952): 56. ^Maria Callas, "Callas, Serafin, and the Art of Bel Canto," Saturday  Review, 51 (March 30, 1968): 49. ^Harold Rosenthal, "Eleven European Singers," Musical America 71 (February, 1951): 19. ^Newell Jenkins, "Milan and Florence Stage Premiers and Revivals," Musical America 72 (March, 1952): 5. 8"Sensation at La Scala," Time 59 (April 21, 1952):79. 9Rudo If Bing, "Bing Remembers Callas," Saturday Review 55 (October, 7, 1972): 37. 10"Opera is Grand Again in Chicago," Life 37 (November 15, 1954): 53-4. 11"Sensation in Chicago," Newsweek 44 (November 15, 1954): 76. 12"Soprano Triumphant," Time 64 (November 15, 1954): 82. 13Emily Coleman, "Callas and Company for Chicago," Theater Arts 39 (January, 1954): 68. 14Ronald Eyer, "Brilliant Debuts Mark ChicagoStnaiguara 1," Musical  America 74 (November 15, 1954): 74. ISjames Hinton, Jr., "Norma," New York Times November 21, 1954 i i 7: 16lrving Kolodin, "Callas Norma in Chicago," Saturday Review 37 (November 13, 1954): 37. 17"The Prima Donna," Time 68 (October 29, 1956): 60-2. 18"At La Scala, the Triumph of U. S.-Bom Maria Callas," Newsweek 45 (January 10, 1955): 58-62. 39 CHAPTER I I I - CONQUERING THE MET It has been the rare singer indeed who has triumphed i n America with-out f i r s t succeeding at the Metropolitan Opera House i n New York City. Two notable exceptions have been Mary Garden and Beverly S i l l s . Early i n this century Garden reigned as prima donna assoluta from her throne at the Chicago Civic Opera Company, and more recently S i l l s , who bu i l t her reputation the New York City Opera Company received much publicity because her refusal to sign a season contract with the more prestigious Metropolitan was so unusual. We have seen i n the previous chapter how Tebaldi and Callas, both of whom had received offers from the Metropolitan, chose to c i r c l e warily before approaching the shrine of American opera. Tebaldi, whose psyche was not of iron and whose temperament had always lacked arrogance, may well have been attempting to ease herself gradually into the potentially caustic climate of New York operatic opinion; or she may simply have been waiting for an offer from New York that she f e l t would display her talent to i t s best advantage. Callas, on the other hand, was embroiled i n skirmishes with the Met's general manager Rudolf Bing long, before she made her appearance i n Chicago. While Bing was attempting to hire Callas at a fee she considered insufficient using his company's awesome reputation and influence as leverage, the shrewd prima donna saw a opport-unity i n Chicago to impress America on her own terms. (See Appendix for further details regarding the early careers of Callas and Tebaldi.) How-ever, whatever their reasons for delaying the inevitable, each soprano f i n a l l y decided to face New York. 40 Tebaldi*s Desderaona Characteristically, Tebaldi*s Metropolitan debut was a modest a f f a i r . She chose the taxing, but brief role of Desdemona i n Verdi*s Otello and sang i t i n a regular subscription performance i n February 1955. Desderaona i s not a role usually chosen for a debut.' As conceived by Verdi and his l i b r e t t i s t Boito the role i s gentle and passive. Indeed, passivity would seem to be the key to Desdemona*s character. Her most important musical and dramatic moments come near the end of the evening, with relatively l i t t l e of musical importance to focus interest on her i n the early acts. Time Magazine had run a feature article on Tebaldi, and there was the usual publicity i n preparation for her arr i v a l at the Met; but, on the whole, the undeniable excitement of her debut was confined to well informed opera fans. Ronald Eyer reporting for Musical America described the mood of the audience as follows: Great anticipitory interest was generated i n the New York debut of the Scala soprano Renata Tebaldi as Desdemona. The house was f i l l e d to the doors with eager wellwishers and the bursting enthusiasm was not ill - p l a c e d . He reported that, "She seemed a b i t tentative at f i r s t , " but went on to praise the all-important f i n a l act and the general impression which her performance created. I found i t d i f f i c u l t to r e c a l l any previous occasion when I have heard the "Willow Song" and "Ave Maria" sung so poi-gnantly, with such direct communication of feeling and with such consummate musicianship. Miss Tabaldi i s the complete mistress of her vocal mechanism. She can sing with as much control at pianissimo as at f u l l voice; and, at pianissimo, her voice has that coveted quality of projection that permits i t to make i t s way clearly and cleanly through the orchestral fabric. Miss Tebaldi also i s a woman of i n f i n i t e grace, serenity and personal charm. She i s the consummate diva, who has already conquered her audience before she has uttered a sound. Anyone who heard her i n the relatively unrewarding role of Desdemona cannot but be impatient 41 to hear her i n other more revealing characterizations. x Eyer's enthusiasm had been aroused but not entirely satisfied. Whether by instinct or design, Tebaldi picked a role whose brevity and modest dramatic range worked to her advantage. The part gave her ample time on stage to prepare for the two d i f f i c u l t arias which, by virtue of their sheer beauty and their late placement i n the opera leave a strong musical and dramatic impression. It also leaves the audience wanting more. It i s interesting to note that Desdemona represents one of the most success-f u l portrayals of an entirely "good" character ever achieved by an operatic composer. Thus, Tebaldi took her f i r s t step to American stardom as a t o t a l l y sympathetic character. Not a l l the c r i t i c s were equally impressed, however. Irving Kolodin was admiring but restrained i n his review. He discussed the excellence of her vocal technique and her musicality at some length. From the f i r s t tones of her duet with Otello to the f i n a l beautiJFully controlled A f l a t pianissimo the "Ave Maria" which, perversely, unleashed a chorus of "bravas," Mme. Tebaldi sang with a maximum of composure and a minimum of vocal strain, with a sweeping command of everyi^e£ul technical device for floating, spinning or thrusting tone over, under or with an orchestra. She wisely saved her major effort for Act IV-the only time i n the whole opera when she i s alone on the stage-in a superb "Willow Song" and an even more absorbing "Ave Maria", but there was no moment earlier when she did not attend to every musical requirement of Verdi i n a demonstration of composure not often encountered i n such circumstances. Of the voice i t s e l f , however, he had reservations. "Hers i s an im-pressive rather than an eloquent instrument but she strikes one as the kind of a r t i s t whose cultivation and obvious refinement of purpose w i l l steadily grow i n the public affection." Kolodin's description of the soprano's acting was even less admiring. 42 I f anything this iron-willed control (Mme. Tebaldi could hardly have been indifferent to the occasion) related to the only reservation roused by the performance. This was a certain lack of dramatic impact, of stage vibrance and immediate audience appeal, A big handsome woman of grac-ious presence and easy movement, Mme, Tebaldi has, appa-rently, been schooled to regard the beautiful sound as more important than the incisive meaning. No one i s going to quibble with beautiful sound on the Tebaldi level; let us hope for the impossible and regard her Desdemona, model of vocal art that i t was, as but the beginning of her success as a dramatic artist Here Kolodin has deliberately called attention to a seeming contradiction i n his analysis by finding fault from a dramatic point of view with that which he deemed exceptional and commendable i n the singing. The c r i t i c made i t clear that "attending to every musical requirement" may actively have interferred with attending to the dramatic requirements of the role. We w i l l return to this dichotomy when we consider Kolodin's partisanship of Maria Callas. Turning to the prestigious New York Times we find that Olin Downes prof e r e d o n l y tentative criticism of Miss Tebaldi's performance part-i a l l y i n deference to the strain of the occasion, but primarily because he missed the last act i n the race to make his deadline. He described his reaction to the performance as "mixed" i n contrast to that of the majority of the audience which welcomed her " i n royal fashion." Unlike Kolodin, Downes found her singing to lack i n discipline and f e l t that her voice would "yield more uniformly beautiful results when i t was under complete control." Her acting a b i l i t y Downes described i n the following manner: "As an actress she i s a beautiful spectacle—a^feeautiful woman, and i n appearance, last night l i k e a figure from an old Florentine painting." Here again we are presented with c r i t e r i a which implies that as long as a performer can f i t into a generalized scheme of dramatic appropriateness, his or her acting a b i l i t y i s deemed acceptable. In this particular case, the c r i t i c asked only that the singer f i l l her space i n the static tableau 43 as p r e t t i l y as possible. Yet oddly enough, Downes found that, 2She was at her best i n the l y r i c a l passages that did not require too much i n the direction of b r i l l i a n c y or dramatic emphasis." It would seem that the c r i t i c did not find her quite as adequate an actress as his earlier state-ment would lead one to believe. However, i n his f i n a l summation of Tebaldi*s a b i l i t i e s Downs says, *'A11 that Miss Tebaldi did impressed us by what i t implied; sometimes by what i t accomplished; always by her inherent a r t i s t i c consciousness and capacity to communicate emotion, which she did, impressively, even when her throat did not respond completely 3 to her wishes." Downes seemed almost to have contradicted himself. Wliat exactly i s the singer's "capacity to communicate emotion", i f she was mostly successful i n "passages that did not require too much i n the direction of b r i l l i a n c y or dramatic emphasis"? Given these limitations, the range of emotions that Tebaldi commanded could not have been wide. The apparent, contradictions i n the reviews of Downes and Kolodin may seem small and hazy points to warrent much discussion, but they are worth examining precisely because of their vagueness. In Downes' review there are three statements relating to the acting a b i l i t y of the singer and there i s the suggestion-, of contradiction amongst them. Perhaps these contradictions may i n part be explained by the technical problems of news-paper journalism discussed i n Chapter I, lack of time and space and l i t t l e control by the reviewer over f i n a l editing. However, since similar contra-dictions have been noted both i n the present and the preceeding chapters, i t seems safe to assume that the apparent confusion regarding the place of acting i n opera which so often manifested i t s e l f i n operatic reviews grew out of a genuine ambivalence i n the minds of the c r i t i c s . The result of this c r i t i c a l ambivalence was that the reader was presented with a 44 very confusing view what musical and dramatic factors contribute to oper-atic excellence. Winthrop Sargeant, the last of the major reviewers covering Tebaldi 1s debut, presented a more cohesive point of view than his collegues. His criticisms of nearly every aspect of the soprano's performance were uni-formly severe. His opening description of her Desdemona was polite, but decidely lukewarm. "My own reactions to Miss Tebaldi's performance, quite pleasurable for the most part, was somewhat more restrained than most of the rest of her public. Miss Tebaldi i s an extremely handsome woman with a large voice of rich emotional power, and hence a very valuable addition to the Metropolitan's roster." Curiously, Sargeant's evaluation of Tebaldi's performance was i n many respects diametrically opposed to Eyer's, Kolodin's and Downes'. Whereas, the other c r i t i c s agreed that she started weakly, but gained momentum as she gained confidence, Sargeant said "She was at her best i n the love scene of the f i r s t act, which she sang with both passion and poetic feeling." And while his collegues praised her music-ianship, this journalist complained that, "Her performance as a whole relied a l i t t l e too heavily on impulsive and rather arbitrary vocal manner-isms, which sometimes marred the classic simplicity of Verdi's long and noble melodic phrases." Sargeant referred only obliquely to her histr** ionic a b i l i t i e s , but contrary to the other reviewers, he seemed to imply that, i f anything, she was guilty of overacting. Of the "Ave Maria" he said, "She sang with a great deal of fervour, but without the poise and art f u l naivetl that would have given i t unforgetable magic." Finally Sargeant observed, "Miss Tebaldi's Desdemona was not a great one. But i t had a pleasingly lush and impassioned quality nevertheless."^ Although Sargeant, unlike other c r i t i c s , did not seem to contradict himself, his 45 review,standing as i t did i n direct opposition to those of his most dis-tinguished colleague^ does l i t t l e to c l a r i f y the standards by which opera c r i t i c s i n general may be assumed to judge asperformance. Judging by the four preceeding reviews Tebaldi fs debut was not a c r i t i c a l triumph, however much the audiences may have loved her. I f her choice of Desdemona was a deliberate tactic to fend off the c r i t i c s , i t was only p a r t i a l l y successful. The reviewers we have studied indicated various combinations of mixed feelings about the performance. Only Eyer could be suspected of having confused the sympathetic nature of the role with the quality of the singing. The remaining c r i t i c s , however, were careful to consider the brevity and limitations of the role and reserved their judgement of Tebaldi*s merits u n t i l such time as they had observed a more complete display of her a b i l i t i e s . Only Winthrop Sargeant took exception to her interpretation of a v i r t u a l l y foolproof role, implying that she had overplayed the sympathetic aspects of the character and the music beyond the bounds of good taste. It should be noticed that each reviewer made special mention of the enthusiasm with which the crowd greeted the soprano, and one might speculate as to whether their own con-servative responses were i n some part a simple reaction against the general effusion. It should be kept i n mind, however, that whatever the c r i t i c s * conclusions clearly they were each judging Tebaldi by their highest stand-ards of excellence. Norma at the Met In strong contrast to Tebaldi's quiet debut as Desdemona,Maria Callas* f i r s t appearance at the Metropolitan i n November of 1956 was one of the most publicized operatic events of the century. The press coverage was comprehensive. Time, Saturday Review and Nation each ran cover stories 46 on the singer and several other magazines featured extensive articles on her career. Many newspapers including the New York Times conducted inter-views with the glamourous soprano. Since Callas* highly successful debut i n Chicago two years previously, the war of w i l l s between Callas and Rudolf Bing which eventually resulted i n the soprano's f i r s t appearance with the Metropolitan Opera Company had been followed by the news media as avidly as the latest negotiations of the Cold War, By the time an agree-ment was reached nearly everyone i n the country, whether interested i n opera or not, was acquainted with the growing legend of the temperamental diva. As the opening of the Met season approached, the proliferation of articles and interviews increased and Callas' opinions on everything from music to marriage were common knowledge. She had won most of her skirmishes with Bing, settling on a fee considerably higher than the company's cust-omary top fee of $1000 per performance and dictating that her debut coin-cide with the honoraryeevent of the season's opening performance. Neither priviledge had been accorded nor perhaps sought by Tebaldi, Whether deliberately or not, Callas did everything possible to focus maximum attention onhherself on that greatly anticipated evening when she stepped onto the Metropolitan stage for the f i r s t time as Norma, the role i n which she had triumphed i n Chicago, The one battle she had con-ceded to Rudolf Bing, use of the company's old and somewhat shabby sets and costumes, lessened even further the possibility of anything distracting from her own performance. Perhaps inevitably considering the overwhelming publicity i t had received, the performance was an anticlimax. Some dissappointment would hardly have been surprising had Callas been at her spectacular best, and she was not i n top form. Despite her bravado, 47 Callas was obviously a l l too aware of the significance of the occassion and chose to keep her artistry under tight control rather than risk the head long performance she had given i n Chicago. Newsweek reported rumours to the effect that, "Back i n Italy where she has ruled ruthlessly over La Scala for the last five years, the betting was widespread that La Callas would cancel on the ground that discretion i n the face of the biggest advance build up of the last quarter century was i n fact the better part of valor." The reviewer went on to report that for the f i r s t two acts, " I t was apparent that cold concentration was dampening some of the passionate fire s that generally illumine Callas* performance."^ In basic agreement with Newsweek.Theatre Arts puzzled over Callas' "automaton-like approach never apparent during her triumph i n Chicago".: observing that she, "...Was patently nervous and appeared to overcome her j i t t e r s through the application of mind over matter, thus producing a stage figure that never came alive except for a few moments here and there i n the last two acfcss.'^ Life Magazine on the other hand was impressed with her "high powered display of histrionics" and commented both on the power and the subtlety of her portrayal. Nevertheless, Life went on to comment that, "Less impressive than the acting was the celebrated voice 7 which went s h r i l l and off-pitch between some flights of pure beauty." Perhaps the guarded mood of the audience at this event was a cont-ributing factor to Callas' caution. Her high-handed behaviour off stage dared people to find fault with her performance, and her less than gracious attitude toward other singers had turned their fans, notably Tebaldi*s, agressively antagonistic. However, despite an i n i t i a l l y cool reception and a calculated performance Callas received eleven f i n a l curtain calls and broke with Metropolitan tradition by taking a solo bow. Ronald Eyer des-scribed the scene as proflf of her f i n a l triumph. 48 Deliberately violating a s t r i c t rule of the house, Mario Del Monaco and Cesare Siepi withdrew during one of the c a l l s , leaving Callas alone on the stage. This was the signal for the audience to express their opinion directly of the home-fcown g i r l who had become a reigning queen of La Scala before most people here had even heard of her, and the storm of applause and cheers could leave no doubt of their verdict. His summation of her performance, however, was less conplimentary than his review of her Chicago performance. It (her Metropolitan Norma) i s more restrained i n action, more deliberate and yet somehow less imposing. She i s a fine actress and she obviously has studied every detail of her role with the greatest care. However, she i s treating her voice more kindly now and i s not longer putting i t through the t o r t -urous paces i n the interest of emotional expression which, i n Chicago, made one fear for i t s safe^y^yet provided such dramatic excitement as to seem well worth the risk. As a result, the voice, which i s not a sensuously beautiful one shows the effects of more cautious manipulation and more care i n focusing both as to pitch and color, especially i n the upper reaches. As a result too, the so-called "registers" are not so disconcertingly evident, although there i s now a certain monotony i n the quality. Miss Callas i s a highly schooled singer who knows precisely what she i s doing at every mogent, though what she does may not always enrapture the ear. It seems l i k e l y from the preceeding exerpt that Eyer took the trouble to re-read his Chicago review for he seemed deliberately to be re-examining his original claims. His f i r s t review of Callas praised the emotionalism which she injected into her singing and faulted her occasional laokfeof vocal precision. In his New York review he indicated that she had con-scientiously corrected the very flaws he noted two years previously; however, Eyer seemed to feel that she had done so at the expense of both the dramatic and the vocal impact of her performance. Writing i n a more favourable vein Howard Taubman began his review with a word of thanks to Miss Callas for making opera "The Thing" for the f i r s t Metropolitan season opening night i n years. He was also care-f u l to preface his specific comments on the performer with a brief anal-ysis of the extreme d i f f i c u l t i e s presented by the opera i n general and by 49 the role of Norma i n particular. Taubman began his evaluation of Callas* performance with a close look at her acting. In his comments he suggested both the careful attention to detail which she applied to her character-ization and the wide range of her dramatic effectiveness. However, Taubman l i k e Eyer did not f a i l to observe the iron control of the soprano and i t s detrimental effect on her dramatic persuasiveness'. She brought to the role the concentration of one who had studied i t thoroughly. Every move, every gesture was planned....It may be that some of her gestures may turn out to be too calculated on some occasions. There were moments last night when they gave the effect of being used for effect rather than from any inner necessity of the role. The Times c r i t i c observed that the sheer effort of the ordeal told on Callas' vocal performance as well. In general, Taubman was not enthu-siastic about her singing, though he conceded that "when she did not force her voice had delicacy and point." He concluded his analysis of the debut by comparing the performance with the Norma of Rosa Ponselle and by offering Callas two tepid compliments. This reviewer can remember only one Norma, Rosa Ponselle, who could sing the entire role without any sense of strain and with unbroken purity. Miss Callas may be forgiven a lack of velvet i n parts of her range. She i s brave to do Norma at a l l . She brings sufficient dramatic and musicals values to her performance to make i t an interesting one. The slightly condescending air of the New York Times review typified according to Winthrop Sargeant the prevailing tone of the dailies i n their morning post mortems of Callas* Metropolitan debut. The New Yorker c r i t i c made a special point of analyzing public and professional feeling surrounding the opening performance of the season. He described i t as having "something of the atmosphere of the invasion of a local tennis tournament by a star outsider" and named Renata Tebaldi and Zinka Milanov as representatives of the "home team". He also noted that the c r i t i c s 50 were not above a defensive reaction to the high-powered publicity which the soprano had e l i c i t e d and perhaps solicited prior to her performance. The majority of the c r i t i c s also tended toward coolness, and their reviews next day betrayed a firm determination not to be stamped by the eloquence of her advance b i l l i n g . Now that the shouting and the compensatory f r i g i d i t y has somewhat abated, I think i t should be possible to arrive at a detached estimate of Miss Callas* gifts which do not i n any way resemble those of Miss Tebaldi or Miss Milanov and which, to my mind, are by no means inconsiderable. It should be recalled that Sargeant had paid similar attention to the emotional climate of Tebaldi*s Metropolitan debut but had i n that instance designated himself as "somewhat more restrained than the rest of her public" i n his enthusiasm. In his Callas review he indicated that while he was less excited than her admirers, he was more impressed than most of his colleagues. Sargeant began his analysis of Callas' performance by examin^ig, i n a general fashion, the singer*s physical presence on the stage. He com-mented on her striking appearance and cited evidence of the "intense temperament of a born tragedienne." Summing up her power and potential as an actress he said, Her talents as an actress, I suspect are limited to the more fiery range of Latin operatic tragedy but within that range they are extraordinarily elastic and have the power to draw an audience into the l i f e and emotions of the character she i s portraying-a power that i s not very common among singers when one approaches them from the purely visual standpoint. Next Sargeant discussed the general quality of Callas* voice and her sing-ing technique, carefully l i s t i n g her vocal strengths and weaknesses. He concluded, however, on a positive note. " . . . I t i s capable of the utmost f l e x i b i l i t y , throughout this compass, and i t s f l e x i b i l i t y , coupled with i t s range and not unrespectable power, gives her the combined Mrtues of a dramatic and coloratura soprano, a coincidence of vocal g i f t s that i s at 51 least rare and therefore quite impressive." Sargeant then focused his attention on the specific situation, CalHias as Norma at the Metropolitan on the occasion of her debut. At this point i n his analysis Callas' singing became the primary consideration. He described the opera's exacting challenge, both i n point of technique and i n point of style and complimented Callas on her rendition of Norma, «s famous f i r s t aria. "She spun out the long, extremely taxing phrases of "Casta Diva" reticently but with superb control and with admirable refinement where niceties of accent and emphasis were concerned." About the rest of the opera he was equally satisfied. "She went on to tackle the formidable color-atura hurdles of the role with practiced precisions, singing nearly every-thing i n tung (a feat noteworthy i n i t s e l f ) and giving each passage an appropriate elegance of style." In closing, commenting on the often mentioned "calculation" of the performance Sargeant remarked, I can imagine more effortless Normas (Miss Callas seemed desperately anxious the other night to get everything just right, and I was sometimes constrained to admire her zeal, rather than to relax i n simple enjoyment, as I should have preferred to do) but this was an astonishingly neat and well handled one and I can now look forward with pleasure to what Miss Callas w i l l do with such roles as Tosca and Lucia, which from the purely vocal point of view, are a great deal less demanding. Sargeant was thorough i n his treatment of every aspect of the performance except Callas* histrionic a b i l i t i e s . I t i s curious that a c r i t i c so patently conscientious and methodical as Sargeant seemed unable i n this instance to discuss the "acting" of the role i n any d e t a i l . His comments pertaining to the details of a performance by a renowned singing atresses dealt entirely with her singing. Perhaps Callas* obvious close attention to her singing on the occasion of her debut invited such an approach to some degree. Whatever the reason, Sargeant's treatment of the 52 performance reinforces the idea that on the operatic stage an a b i l i t y to project a strong, i f generalized physical picture of a character was considered by most c r i t i c s to be tantamount to good acting. Even Callas' much commented upon concern for appropriate dramatic and musical detail was at times p a r t i a l l y ignored by musically schooled reviewers who ultimately had d i f f i c u l t y analysing the mechanics of dramatic finesse on the opera stage no matter how conscientiously they trie d . A lack of theatrical insight was the only flaw i n Sargeant's otherwise exemplary review. Firmly entrenched on either side of the Mew Yorker c r i t i c s sensible, balanced criticism of the Callas debut were the violently partisan evaluations of B. H. Haggin i n Nation and Irving Kolodin i n Saturday Review. Predictably Haggin hated Callas. Strangely enough, however, he chose to take umbrage at her acting technique and was somewhat appeased by her musical and vocal finesse. Of her voice he wrote that she had been, ...Exhibiting a voice that has lost most of what caused so much to be written about her....By now i t s original bloom and loveliness are gone....It has a bad wobble and as often as not i t produces a climatic high note off-pitch....But i n an occasional quiet phrase employing i t s lower range the voice approximated i t s former beauty. Obviously, Haggin had been impressed by the recordings that had preceeded Callas' appearance on the Metropolitan stage, and even i n her vocally debilitated state he praised her musicianship almost unconditionally. " A l l the singing whether agreeable or not i n quality of sound, s t i l l ex-hibited Callas' unfailing sense and concern for musical phrase, which at times was vrery exciting." However, he was highly offended by the soprano's histrionics. In the Metropolitan her singing did not project that compelling power that i t does at microphone range on records. Nor did she, on the stage, radiate any of the force of personal presence or dramatic projection 53 that her carefully studied poses and movements were evidently meant to convey. They were meant also to make the performance a prima-donna assoluta grand style operations, and i n this too they f a i l e d . Haggin seemed to imply that Callas* voice did not have sufficient dramatic weight to successfully carry what he considered to be the excess baggage of her grand—eloquent acting style. The Nation c r i t i c seemed to regard any attempt at visual interest on stage to be merely a setting for the voice, he apparently f e l t that Miss Callas was forcing a g i l t , baroque frame around a watercolor. Haggin was even more incensed by the reaction that her, i n his opinion, empty pyrotechnics elicited. " A l l this QCallas' actingj was bad enough, but what was appalling was the audience's res-ponse to i t j the same storms of applause, the same cheers and y e l l s as for the successful operation of a Melba, a Lehman, a Flagstad." One wonders i f Haggin*s summation of Callas was an entirely objective process or whether he allowed the audience's "obvious disagreement with his own eval-uation to pique him into even more strongly negative commentary. He summed up his feelings about the performance with a pedantic lecture on the general decline of quality on the opera stage and ended his review with the following declaration of longing for the "good old days." "We have, then not only a deterioration i n performance, but a deterioration i n public taste that i s to some extent responsible for i t . " - 1 - 1 Before leaving the apoplectic Mr. Haggin i t should be noted that his book Music Observed published i n 1964 includes the following commentary on Callas' much publicized dismissal from the Met by i t s headstrong man-ager Rudolf Bing: Callas* vocal powers, peculiarities and deficiences-*iot only her range, a g i l i t y and power, and the strangely beautiful timber of her lower voice, but even her un-pleasantly s h r i l l high notes—promised an effective Lady Macbeth two seasons later, but was lost through 54 Mr. Bing's loudly proclaimed dismissal of her, alledgedly for reasons which did not justify his action. ^  Haggin's reservations about Callas' a b i l i t i e s were s t i l l i n evidence, but his estimation of her value as an arti s t had altered considerably i n eight years. His change of opinion was made even more apparent i n the same book when Haggin compared Joan Sutherland's coloratura accomplishments to those of the pioneerring Callas. Although he mentioned certain improve-ments i n Sutherland's singing, i n the f i n a l analysis she f e l l short of his description of the young Callas. A few years ago Maria Callas created new interest i n the operas of Bellina and Donezetti with her singing of their d i f f i c u l t vocal parts—the delivery of melody that was made affecting by the strangely beautiful color of her lower notes, musically distinguished by her sense for continuity and shape of phrase made eloquent by her powers of dramatic expressiveness; the execution of f l o r i d passages that was made spectacular by her vocal a g i l i t y , accuracy and range and her bravura style These examples from Haggins reviews over the years suggest that history and perhaps public opinion may gradually change the opinion of even the most adamant c r i t i c s . 3h contrast to Haggin, Irving Kolodin representing the favourable side of the Callas debate had not one negative word to say about the debut performance. The prefacing remarks of his review made i t clear that his opinion of Miss Callas had been fixed prior to her Met debut and that his chief interest i n observing this particular rendition of Norma was, *v-> ...A basic curiousity about the marriage of the voice and the house; would they be compatible or would there be need for a period of t r i a l wedding? A dress rehearsal on the Saturday before l e f t no doubt i n this respect; the voice, though not a huge or weighty one, i s so well—supported and floated that i t i s audible at a l l times, most particularly i n the piano and pianissimo effects which Miss Callas delights i n giving us. Kolodin's opening comments may seem effusive, but they served to make his 55: biases perfectly apparent. His discussion of Callas was confined to a detailed and complimentary analysis, some might claim ju s t i f i c a t i o n , of her vocal and musical technique i n general and of her portrayal of the Bruid High Priestess i n particular. It ([Callas* voice] i s what every great artist's means of conminication becomes: an extension of her own person-a l i t y . That personality i s dynamic, highly charged, tigerish and constantly under discipline. So too, the voice i s dynamically dramatic, produced as though i t might be torn from the singerls insides, and presided over with an almost visible concern for every work and note she sings. Nothing i s thoughtless, l e f t to chance, or without t o t a l purpose. Callas* careful, intellectual approach to singing, not as apparent at her fiery best, but artificial-seeming to detractors l i k e Haggin when passion did not light a performance, held an appeal for Kolodin. He delighted at the sense of conscientious effort&that Callas brought to her work and he compared her vocal equipment to a clarinet which "She worked on yEt} l i k e a woodwind player fingering invisible keys." The comp-osure which others f e l t s t u l t i f y i n g , he found "impressive"; and, a l -though he conceeded that "Casta Diva" began with noticeable vocal tension, he found that, "The a r t i s t i c purpose was deeper, even more communicative than i n Chicago two years ago." In this last opinion he stood alone amongst the major c r i t i c s . Though he praised her performance generally, Kolodin did not sp e c i f i -cally mention of Callas* acting a b i l i t i e s i n this review. He consistently referred to the soprano as a singer or an a r t i s t . In his summation of her Norma he said of the performance, She was creating a character as emphatically her own as Flagstad's Alceste, or Lehmann's Marschallin, or i n an-other dimension Markova's Giselle. I t was something seen whole and consecutive from beginning to end. Re-served i n i t s early aspects, infuriated i n those that followed, and f i n a l l y resigned to the self sacrifice she 56 must make to regain the forfeited with her i l l - s t a r r e d love for Pollione, i t finds a vocal tone to match each mood. This i s more than fine singing: i t i s dramatic , portraiture of which the operatic stage has a l l too l i t t l e . Kolodin was evidently aware of the dramatic power of Miss Callas' per-formance, but he assumed the center of dramatic truth and effectiveness to l i e within the voice. Logically we could construe that he therefore, did not care about the histrionic aspects of the operatic art. However, such a proposition i s d i f f i c u l t to believe about an enthusiastic supporter of a performer universally acknowledged to be a striking actress. It i s more l i k e l y that Kolodin believed that opera demanded a particular t a l -ent which i s of i t s nature a homogenized blend of vocal, physical and psychological a b i l i t i e s which could not meaningfully be looked at as separate ingredients. Kolodin seems to have united these lesser talents under the umbrella term "vocal and musical technique", i n an attempt to convey his philosophy that the technique of operatic performance i s an indivisible t o t a l i t y . A Comparison of C r i t i c a l Techniques It should not be forgotten, however, that Kolodin's analysis of Tebaldi's Desdemona seemed less concerned with communicating the import-ance of unity i n operatic performance. He had found that her "iron-willed composure" interfaced"- with the "dramatic impact of stage ambiance and 15 immediate audience appeal". Though he described Tebaldi as "a big, handsome woman of gracious presence and easy movement," he had found fault with her apparent choice of "beautiful sound as more important than the incisive meaning"; and he had concluded with the hope that "her Desdemona, model of vocal art that i t was, i s but the beginning of her success as a dramatic a r t i s t . " Perhaps because Tebaldi was weak i n the dramatic 57 interpretation of her role, Kolodin f e l t constrained to examine each ele-ment of her performance individually rather than treat her interpretation as an integrated t o t a l i t y . Although Kolodin had implied a separation of a b i l i t i e s i n his analysis of Tebaldi's Desdemona, he s t i l l referred to the singer's dramatic deficiencies from a vocal point of view and never 11 discussed her "acting" as such. In contrast to Kolodin, Sargeant was more consistent i n his treat-ment of the two. singers. His review of Callas* performance was more complete. However, his treatment of each soprano opened', with a description of the circumstances surrounding the performance and continued with a methodical analysis of the various facets of her art. Sargeant reported each woman's general appearance and general vocal quality. He went on to examine the manner i n which each soprano adapted her musicianship to the specific role. Finally, he compared the performances under review to performances of the past which he considered to be examples of the highest excellence. (Sargeant considered Rosa Ponselle as Norma and E l i z a -beth Rethburg as Desdemona to be the nearest to perfect interpreters of these characters.) By naming particular performances as examples of his personal ideal, the reader was given something definite to agree or d i s -agree with and, thus, had a thumb to hold up to the review as a whole. The combined reviewing techniques of opening a review with a description of the atmosphere and circumstances surrounding a performance and closing i t with a precise yardstick by which to measure i t s quality provided a clear context for Sargeant's evaluations. Moreover, Sargeant reported the reactions to the performance of both the general audience and the critics} he provided an analysis of these reactions: and he offered a comparison of his own reaction to that of the other spectators. In other words, Sargeant presented his reader with maximum data by which to 53 evaluate his own evaluations. Foliow-^up Performances In order to give this chapter a larger perspective, a look must be taken at two of the follow-up performances to Tebaldi's and Callas* eag-erly awaited but, on the whole, disappointing Metropolitan debuts. Olin Downes, so cautious i n his f i r s t review of Tebaldi's Desdemona, had been completely won over by her Mimi i n Puccini's La Boheme. He called Tebaldi's portrayal of the romantic young seamstress "a revelation", adding, "We have heard no Mimi who moved us so much by the sincerity and the gripping emotion that she gave the part." Downes' Boheme review demonstrated a peculiar thought process. The c r i t i c seems to have been attempting to re-orient himself i n the face of shattered preconceptions. He expected a display of "impeccable singing" and was presented instead with technique which reflected a "grand and warm and dramatic Italian temperament" and a voice that "throbbed with feeling". Having once been won over by the emotional effectiveness of the singer, Downes seemed hard pressed to f i t the physical characterization of the performer to the theatrical exigencies of the role. He described the discrepancy i n the following coy fashion: One could even say that Miss Tebaldi whose height i s something that can easily be embarrassing to her partners on the stage, and whose stature gives her a more imposing effect than one naturally associates with the figure of the l i t t l e seamstress Mimi, makes the character i n a manner proportionate to her height and a greater and more dramatic figure than one imagines the g i r l of Puccini and Murger to be. Downes tried somewhat awkwardly to jus t i f y the mismatch between Tebaldi's substantial physique and Mimi's consumptive one by glorifying the discrepancy. 59 We would rather have experienced the t h r i l l s and known the tragic overtones of this impersonation than the most perfect and finished representation on a smaller scale. If i t i s a hitherto unknown variation of the character, even i f i t i s not sung irreproachably i n every tone, note and phrase-it does not matter. It' i s a creative communication, and i t makes us feel Mimi as an intensely l i v i n g , loving and suffering human being, and not merely a pathetic figure of Bohemian l i f e i n Paris of a century ago. In other words, the emphatic quality of Tebaldi's singing was of greater importance than the precise humaniinsights suggested by the l i b r e t t o . In fact, Downes went so far as to intimate that the story i s not worth adhering to. "Communication" i s the key word i n Downes' evaluation of Tebaldi*s art, but the question must be asked-communication of what? Each of the performing arts amalgamates the efforts of the composer, l i b r e t t i s t , playwright, director, choreographer, conducter, designer, character, fe performer, etc., and i t i s the interaction of these several personalities that lend the performing arts their rich texture. Can the highest a r t i s t i c purpose of opera served when the singer's personality overpowers a l l others and becomes an end i n i t s e l f ? It does not seem l i k e l y . Whereas Tebaldi appeared to relax quickly into the Metropolitan routine, Callas' cautious and restrained approach to her art persisted throughout her f i r s t weeks i n New York. Theater Arts reported that, Not u n t i l she tackled Tosca did the legendary Callas become a l i v i n g presence on the stage of the Metropolitan, exercising the generative forces which are peculiarly hers. With Callas i t i s the t o t a l effect that counts. Her singing, at least throughout the f i r s t Tosca. was decidedly spotty; her acting taken by i t s e l f , often mannered. Yet i n the second act of Tosca she showed the Metropolitan what much of the rest of the world has been shouting about-a prima donna charged with pulsating excitement.1''' Unfortunately, Tosca, as the third of Callas' roles that season was not reviewed by any of the major c r i t i c s . Kolodin and Sargeant, however, did take a second look at the controversial soprano i n her f i r s t per-formance of Don'ixetti's Lucia P i Lammermoor. The reviews reveal l i t t l e 60 further about the singer but confirm some of the characteristics of. the two c r i t i c s . Judging from the Theater Arts comments ("Curiously this automation-like approach-clever apparent during her triumph i n Chicago-persisted throughout her f i r s t two weeks at the MetJ») and from Sarg-eant's evaluation that her Lucia was less impressive than her Norma (mainly because of several tense and a few botched high notes/f^), Callas* i n her second torturous coloratura role maintained the same ai r of cautious self-control though with even less success than she had si achieved as Norma. Kolodin, however, continued to be ecstatic, making a favourable comparison between Callas* interpretation and the "freight of wooden gestures, loose limbs, and barren leaves of pathos" which, i n his estimation, usually accompanied the role. Deviating from his custo-mary treatment of Callas, he singled out several examples of her taste and finesse as an actress. She dressed the part as a mistress of a castle might, with taste and style, and provided an economical action for the Mad Scene that made i t a scene as well as mad....Here instead of indulging i n useless wanderings about the stage with the surface suggestions of dementis, Miss Callas con-centrated on interpreting the words with a simplicity and power that absorbed the attention of a capacity audience. Kolodin also praised the subtlety of her musical interpretation. Knowing her voice as well as she knows her business-which i s to say, thoroughly-Miss Callas doubtless realizes that she cannot charm the listener by vibrance or prettiness alone, hence the greater concentration on verbal inten-s i t i e s , warm turns of phrase and a dynamic reserve that produces an occasional, well-planned high spot. While Kolodin did not overlook Callas' questionable high notes, he showed them i n a light which rendered them drastically, i f not musically accept-able. He described her two uncertain top !,D's as "exclamation points rather than periods." Kolodin plainly found the Callas' style of well-planned and often effective a r t i f i c e inspirational. Consequently, flaws 61 i n her performance technique were for him overshadowed by the excellence of her basic method and her high a r t i s t i c purpose. "Lucia at the Met-ropolitan w i l l be something different for some time to come, now that Maria Callas has shown she can be a person of dramatic cr e d i b i l i t y as well as musical i n c r e d i b i l i t y . " - ^ In contrast to Kolodin's claim that Callas* Lucia was an innovation, Winthrop Sargeant found l i t t l e new i n the performance. He, therefore, used his review to editoralize further on the emotional frenzy which often underlies operatic performances, but which Miss Callas' presence seemed greatly to exascerbate. Opera may be a branch of music and a variety of drama, but i t i s also—at least i n i t s effect upon many of i t s devotees—a kind of sport, and those who regard i t as such have been exceptionally conspicuous at the Metropolitan Opera House over the past month or so. During this time I have encountered more symptoms of combative emotion-cheers, boos, hisses, argucments, standees clutching their temples, wringing their hands i n the lobby between acts, even minor scuffles—than had previously come to my attention i n years. Miss Maria Callas, [isill a rather remark-able singer with, I understand, a highly competative approach to her work...As far as I can make out the rumpus stems mainly from the fact that, Miss Callas' admirers have claimed for her unique rank as a sort of world's champion soprano and her detractors don't think she deserves the t i t l e . I don't either, but I must say that to my knowledge she has broken two records this season,...She sang a f a i r l y accurate Norma, a Tosca and a Lucia within a two week period, something that might be compared to successive demonstrations of prowess at weight-lifting and the hundred-yard dash. 2 0 The preceeding exerpt demonstrates once again that an important reviewing concept for the New Yorker c r i t i c was to provide his reader with a con-text for each performance. Furthermore,. Sargeant clearly stated his f i n a l estimation of Callas' voice as merely a personal predilection. "Despite these accomplishments, though, one i s not obliged to l i k e Miss Callas' singing. I find the quality of her voice somewhat monotonous and at times disagreeably feline." 62 Related to his concern for context i s also Sargeant's welcome injection of humour into art form which oft enssadly lacks i t on the stage and off. A sense of humour often goes hand i n hand with a sense of perspective and one i s grateful for Sargeant*s efforts to maintain both. In his f i n a l summation of the performance, Sargeant tied his re-view together neatly by referring back i n a l l seriousness to his whim-si c a l opening metaphor. Except for these faulty [top] notes, however, I found her interpretation of the role interesting and occasion-a l l y even t h r i l l i n g . Her coloratura was extraordinarily agile and expressive, and her handling of accent and phrasing was always scrupulous, elegant and authoritative. Miss Callas rhv summation, again showed herself to be a remarkable singer but she also showed that her striking physical resources have their l i m i t s . Callas-An Historical Perpective In concluding our study of c r i t i c a l reactions to Tebaldi's and Callas' debut performances i n America's most prestigious opera house, the following quotation may give us a better perspective on the sagacity of the reviewer's opinions. Ten years after her Metropolitan debut, Henry Peasants i n The Great Singers—from the Dawn of Opera to Our Own  Time compared Callas to the great and controversial soprano Guiditta Pasta: These roles [Anna Bolena, Somnaribula, Norma] along with the Medea noted previously w i l l remind the contemporary reader of Maria Callas, although Callas* Medea was Cherubinis rather than Mayr*s. And, indeed these two singers have had more i n common than mere a f f i n i t y to roles. In Callas was repeated Pasta*s imperfect and unruly voice tamed, more or less, by severe discipline and training and resourcefully managed. Both could sing badly later i n their careers and at the same time excite enthusiasmgand even ecstacy. Common to both has been the achievement of pre-vailing over more beautiful and more tractable voices. Pasta and Callas have had the glamour, or genius as Chorley would have called i t , by which the great a r t i s t s , as distinguished form the merely good, cast a spell that deafens the listener 63 to executive imperfections and inadequacies. They have been more than singers, rather tragediennes i n the grand manner, big actresses and big, commanding persuasive personalities.^ If Peasants' hi s t o r i c a l l y distanced overview can be taken as an accurate evaluation of Callas* art, we may then cSnclude that Irving Kolodin for a l l his effusion was, perhaps the most perceptive and prophetic of his journalistic peers. 64 l Ronald Eyer, "Opera at the Metropolitan," Musical America 75 (February 15, 1955): 238. 2 Irving Kolodin. "Tebaldi and Kempe," Saturday Review 38 (February 12, 1955): 29. 3 Olin Downes, "Renata Tebaldi Sings Desdemona i n Verdi's Otello," New York Times 32 (February 6, 1955): 4. ^Winthrop Sargeant "A new Desdemona," The- New. Yorker 30 (February 12, 1955): 39. ^"Debut i n a Dither," Newsweek 48 (November 12, 1956): 122. "Scenes by Dramatic Diva," Life 41 (November 12, 1956): 24-5. '''"The Met Seasons Early Returns," Theater- Arts 41 (November 1956): 75. 8 Ronald Eyer, "Callas Sings Norma as Metropolitan Opens Season," Musical America 76 (November 15, 1956): 13* 9Hdward Taubman, New York Times 43 (October 30, 1956): 1. 1SjinthropSSargeaht, "Debut," The.New Yorker 32 (November 10, 1956): 201-2. n B . H. Haggin "Music," Nation 183 (December 1, 1956): 488. ^^B. H. Haggin, Music Observed (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), p. 186. B. H. Haggin, Music Observed (New York:.Oxford University Press, 1964), p. 232 ^ I r v i n g Kolodin, "Callas Comes to the Met i n Norma." Saturday  Review 39 (November 10, 1956): 38. ^ I r v i n g Kolodin, "Tebaldi and Kempe," Saturday.Review 38 (February 12> .1955): 29. "^Olin Downes, "La Boheme at the Metropolitan," New. York Times 32 (April 4, 1955): 6. -^"The Met Season Early Returns," Theater Arts 41 (November 1956): 75. 18'-'Irving Kolodin, "Callas i n Lucia. Gobbi i n Rigoletto." Saturday  Review 39 (December 15, 1956): 55. 1 9''Ibid. Winthrop Sargeant, "Fates and Favorites," The New Yorker 35 (December 15, 1956): 55. * " " 21 •'"Ibid. 2 2Henry Peasants, The. Great .Singers—from the Dawn ,of Opera,to Our  Own Time (New York: Simon and Schulster, 1966), p. 141-42. 65 CHAPTER IV-TOSCA The role of Floria Tosca, tempestuous heroine of Puccini's blood-and-thunder opera, i s splendidly suited to almost any dramatic soprano because i t provides her with an unique opportunity to portray herself on stage, yet remain credible within the context of the plot. Callas and Tebaldi were each sufficiently vivid personalities to f i l l the role of the nineteenth century prima donna with ease. Both sopranos per-formed Tosca regularly throughout their careers. Although their recorded repetoires overlapped considerably (as we w i l l see inlthe concluding chapter), offering opportunities for direct comparison, the mainstreams of Tebaldi's and Callas' stage work merged only occasionally. Whereas Tebaldi sang i n the conventional spinto soprano repertoire throughout her career, Callas began as a dra-matic soprano, extended her range to encompass coloratura roles, then retreated into spinto and mezzo soprano selections as her vocal powers faded. In the two preceeding chapters we have used similar events i n the careers of the two singers as the bases for comparing New York c r i t i c s * responses to acting i n opera. In this chapter, we w i l l use the one role which was common to the stage repetoires of both Tebaldi and Callas, Floria Tosca, as the basis for analyzing the c r i t i c a l standards and methods of opera reviewers. The lush and grandiose melodic lines so characteristic of Puccini made Tosca an ideal vehicle for Tebaldi's luxurious and sometimes un-wieldy vocal equipment. On the other hand, the quicksliver moods of the heroine and the grand guignol events of the plot were well suited to 66 both the finesse and the power of Callas'shistrionic virtuousity. The role was important to the careers of bothssopranos and reviews of their noteworthy performances have created many opportunities for comparison between the singers and among the c r i t i c s . Because several productions and a considerable span of years are represented i n this chapter, the reviews also afford us several opportunities to compare the c r i t i c to himself. Tebaldi's First American Tosca Tebaldi was the f i r s t of the two sopranos to appear as Tosca i n the United States. Her f i r s t major performance of the role came during her debut season with the Metropolitan. When i n i t i a l l y confronted with her interpretation of the character, Kolodin and Sargeant each recorded mixed emotions. Sargeant's summation was luke-warm. Renata Tebaldi sang her f i r s t Tosca at the Metropolitan on Tuesday evening, and, suspecting that i t might turn out to be her most effective role so far, I went to hear i t . The per-formance, given for the benefit of the Fteee Milk Fund, was held to a rigorously uninspired level by Fausto Cleva, who conducted i t . Miss Tebaldi, however, sang with commendable warmth and enthusiasm, and succeeded i n stopping the show with her " V i s s i D'arte". I do not think she i s a consumnate mistress of the more refined aspects of bel canto, nor can I place her among the greatest Toscas I have ever heard. But she looked the part, and, contributed to an a i r of physical v i t a l i t y that I found pleasing. Although Sargeant was not entirely captivated by Tebaldi's performance, we see i n his review the familiar tendency of most opera c r i t i c s to approve vaguely appropriate generality as sufficient foundation for an acceptable, even praiseworthy characterization. It may be of s i g n i -ficance to. note that he went to "hear" the performance rather than to "see" i t . Kolodin was somewhat more favourable i n his evaluation of Tebaldi's f i r s t New York Tosca; however, he too, had had reservations about her 67 performance. For awhile during the Metropolitan performance of Tosca. which introduced Renata Tebaldi's conception of the t i t l e • part to that house, i t seemed that her graph of accomplish-ments was destined for a downward dip. Her f i r s t act was not particularly well sung, she was unbecomingly C0stumed| and the light touch required for the coquetry with Cavara-dossi was mostly?/' absent. However, a Tosca stands or f a l l s on what she offers i n Act I I , and Tebaldi here magnetized attention with her well-planned loathing of Scarpia; and her equally determined dispatch of him once her plan of accomplishment was clear. Meanwhile, she al l i e d vocal vigor to the whole, delivering " V i s s i d'arte" i n a manner to justify what i t used to be called-a prayer to the Virgin. There i s the suggestion i n this excerpt that Kolodin's visual taste was at odds with Sargeant's. Whereas Kolodin found fault with Tebaldi's costuming, his colleague found her physical appearance suitable to the role. Kolodin also discerned i n her f i r s t act performance somewhat less than Sargeant generally conceeded to her; but he placed greater value on the thrust of the second act i n which he f e l t there to be evidence of considerable dramatic awareness on the part of the soprano. Although specific opinions about specific points vary appreciably, the points brought up for evaluation were similar i n Kolodin's and Sargeant's. critiques. Taken as a whole, these two reviews came to comparable con-clusions with regard to the standard of the performance. Second Season Tebaldi fared better with both the role and the c r i t i c s i n a re-vised production of the opera during her second Metropolitan season. Howard Taubman called the newly polished production "stunning." The impediments of routine were cast aside and the work was restudied under the direction of Dmitri Mitropoulos as though i t were a new opera. The result was a per-formance with the explosive power of melodrama rat' it-* s. best. It was precisely because Puccini's music was given i t s due that this production carried such impact.... Renata Tebaldi was a Tosca i n whom you could believe. 68 She carried herself l i k e the prima donna Tosca i s and at the same time she had the simplicity and tenderness which most interpreters forget to convey. Her singing was nothing less than masterly commanding i n i t s power and searching i n i t sensitivity. And at the end of the second act she knew how to muster the fury and the horror of the shocked^, avenger.3 The soprano's stage presence and emotional capacities seemed to have improved enormously with the relative relaxation of a second season and Mitropoulos' guidance. Interestingly enough, Winthrop Sargeant, on hand for the December debut of the new production, completely revised his i n i t i a l evaluation of Tebaldi's Tosca. "Tosca to a T," was the t i t l e of his review i n which he gave everyone involved i n the production and especially Renata Tebaldi high praise. In his conscientious style, Sargeant offered an analysis of the opera which focused particular attention on the char-acter of the heroine. ...While Tosca.the opera, i s mostly blood and thunder, Tosca, the character, has a certain authentic grandeur, and i n some ways constitutes more than what i s ordinarily thought of as an operatic role. One can say that i t i s sung or acted well or badly and s t i l l miss the real point, because singing and acting are only part of what a great diva brings to a great Tosca. Above a l l Tosca i s a person-ality-an extremely dominating and affecting one-and the finest interpreters of the role have always had the peculiar faculty of convincing you, at the moment, that they were the passionate woman they depict, a faculty that may or may not be directly related to such things as vocal beauty and histrionic elegance. Sargeant went on to mention b r i e f l y several great Toscas of the past and one of the great failures. Of Tebaldi he confessed that he had i n i t i a l l y formed an unfavourable impression. Her f i r s t act, i n fact, struck me as rather tepid and cur-sory. I must say, however, that by the end of the second act I was i n a mood to shout approval, as those about me were doing. Miss Tebaldi had succeeded i n seizing the stage with the flamboyant and uninhibited fervor that a fine Tosca must have; she looked very handsome, and she sang with enormous 69 conviction. It was obvious to me at this point that the ups and downs of operatic history and again presented us with a major figure capable of giving the role i t s due. Although the cast i n general was much commended for i t s performance, Sargeant gave the lion's share of his. musical and dramatic praise to Dmitri Metropoulos, "a conductor of notable energy", who managed to lend fevor to "the notably energetic opera". The orchestra played for him as i f i t s l i f e was at stake, and, apart from a few lapses,,,, the result was nothing short of b r i l l i a n t . "In summing up the production, Sargeant chose the same word as Taubman, "stunning".4 There are two points of particular interest i n Sargeant's review. The f i r s t i s his insightful analysis of the way i n which Tosca "works" as a character. The role requires a singer who can throw her own per-sonality recklessly into her characterization. "Reserve", a quality often so painfully lacking i n opera singers' attempts at acting, i s entirely out of place i n this role. Tosca legitimizes some of the melodramatic antics which too often masquerade as "acting" on the oper-atic stage. The second point of interest i s Sargeant's suggestion that sheer energy and a sense of conviction i n performance can contribute tremendously to the success of any opera and this opera i n particular. EvenfMw Yorker c r i t i c ; , as a rule musically fastidious, allowed himself to be swept along by the vigourous musical and dramatic drive of the renovated Tosca. Like Taubman he f e l t that the success of this prod-uction was due primarily to Mitropoulos' "frenzied enthusiasm" as the conductor. Comparing Sargeant with himself nine months earlier one i s con-fronted by his complete reversal of opinion with regard to Tebaldi's merits as a performer and especially as an interpreter of Tosca. In March she had been dismissed with a devastating understatement, "I do 70 not think she i s a consummate mistress of the more refined aspects of bel canto, nor can I place her among the greatest Toscas I have ever heard."5 However, i n December Sargeant declared, " I t was obvious tovne at this point that the ups&and downs of operatic history had again presented us with a major figure capable of giving the role i t s due." Tebaldi plainly owed much of the credit for her new status as one of the great Toscas to Mitropoulos* guidance, and one suspects that Sargeant1s elevated estimation of her portrayal was influenced by the overfall improvement i n quality of the production. Curiously enough, despite the widely differing conclusions drawn, Sargeant described the two performances i n almost identical terms. In March Tebaldi "sang with commendable warmth and enthusiasm"; looked the part and contributed (to) an a i r of physical v i t a l i t y " ; but Sargeant found the performance laddng in finesse. In December she "succeeded i n seizing the stage with the flamboyant and uninhibited fervor that a fine Tosca must have; she looked very handsome and she sang with enormous conviction"; and Sar-geant found the performance near perfection. The main difference between the two performances seems to have been that i n the second Tebaldi simply repeated what she had done i n the f i r s t but with greater zeal. Uncharacteristically, Sargeant did not mention any specific musical or vocal considerations i n his December review of Tebaldi's Tosca. Moreover, the very qualities which i n his earlier review he condemned as musically and vocally crude, he praised less than a year later as dramatically and theatrically effective. It i s somewhat suprising and disappointing that Sargeant did not refer to his earlier review and elaborate on his change of heart (as we have previously seen him do with regard to Miss Callas). 71 Callas* Early Toscas We turn now to Maria Callas 1 long association with the role of Floria Tosca. To begin with her recorded version of Tosca was one of the phenomena which excited interest i n North America before her U.S. debut i n Chicago i n 1954» Ronald Eyer made the following comments with regard to the release of the o f f i c i a l La Scala recording: A dramatically vivid and sti r r i n g account of Puccini's Tosca i s given by La Scala forces under the baton of Victor de Sabata...The l i v e and vibrant atmosphere of the theatre i s preserved (whether or not the taping actually was done i n La Scala), and the momentum of the drama builds continuously to the stunning climax of the very last note i n a manner seldom surpassed i n an actual performance. The t i t l e role i s essayed with great vocal and dramatic effectiveness by Maria Meneghini Callas. GMseppe Di Stefano, already known i n America, i s more impressive than I ever have heard him as Cavaradossi, and Tito Gobbi makes c h i l l i n g r e a l i t y of the dark character of Scarpia. Ensemble performing and dramatic impact were the key notes of Eyer's review. Though he emphasized the dramatic effectiveness of the re-cording, Eyer gave no indication that Callas or any of the singers delivered less than satisfactory musical and vocal performances. When Callas made her Metropolitan debut i n 1956, she was entering the second phase of her remarkable association with Tosca. The role was the most conventional of the three which she performed that season. Conseq-uently, i t represented even for c r i t i c s interested enough to review the production, only a minor event i n Callas' remarkable vocal decathalon. The New York Times critique opened with renewed praise for the unflagging orchestral v i t a l i t y inspired by Dimitri Metropoulos and continued with words of highest admiration for.Callas. "Last Night an already strong production took on s t i l l further intensity through the presence of a Tosca who, dramatically, was about as perfectly conceived as one could imagine." What followed i n the review was a graphic account of Callas* detailed 72 interpretation of the partv •••One of the original features of her performance last night was that she made Tosca so young. In her conception of the part-and i n this she was true to the libretto-Tosca was a rather simple peasant g i r l , who because of her singing career had learned the airs of a great lady, but who i n moments of c r i s i s reverted to country naturalness and spon-tanaety. Thus, when she relented with Mario i n the f i r s t act, after he had convinced her she had no cause to be jealous, she was a l l charming tenderness^ with just a hint: of the sensuality that i s part of her make-^ up. When she cursed the Scarpia she had stabbed, she spoke as a woman might i n a market. And when she went, as she thought, to rescue Mario i n the f i n a l act, she was an excited g i r l . Playing Tosca thus, a l l the contradictions disappeared. There was noiinconsistency i n the women cursing at the por-t r a i t of a r i v a l and then sweeping off grandly. Her foolish-ness i n betraying Mario's secret was understandable, and.she made the famous aria " V i s s i d'arte" make perfect sense. Obviously she was a pious g i r l , who, i n view of her devotion to the Madonna, f e l t i t utterly incomprehensible that her. world should suddenly come crashing to pieces. However, the Times accorded her singing somewhat less enthusiasm. Often she was fin$, especially i n the deeper notes, and when the long phrases were spun out softly. But i n high notes, when she sang loudly, her voice took on an edge, and i n a few of the topmost forte notes one suspected she was s t i l l suffering from the throat ailment announced at her second Norma. S t i l l , the audience did not seem to mind. It. cheered her repeatedly. 7 The tone of these last two sentences i s ambiguous. Did the c r i t i c mean to signify that the performance must have been of fine quality because the audience approved of i t ? Or was he making a deadpan comment on the accountability of audience taste? It i s d i f f i c u l t to t e l l . Oddly enough, though Callas had made the o f f i c i a l La Scala recording of Tosca. she had never actually performed the role at the renowned Italian opera house. Floria Tosca was a character well suited to her talent, but Callas was nevertheless, relatively new to the role. Vocally, Tosca should have been easy inr:comparison with either the Norma or Donizetti's Lucia PiHLammermoor both of which she had sung creditably 73 within the week. However her familiarity with the role i n addition to the fact that she had sung the taxing and radically different role of Norma only a few days previously probably contributed to her vocal pro-blems during the performance. Irving Kolodin, whose admiration for Callas had been growing stronger with each of her performances took the extenuating circumstances into account and designated the performance " f i r s t - c l a s s " . His review opened with an implied comparison between Callas and Renata Tebaldi, who had made Tosca her own i n the previous two Metropolitan seasons. There may be sound basis for arguing which singer, of a l l contemporaries, i s the most voluptuous sounding Tosca, the most ample i n vocal volume, the most unwilling partner to Scarpia*s intentions, but Callas strikes me as the most cre-dible Tosca of our time. She sings her music with the instincts of a fine musician. Slight i n appearance but commanding i n manner, she was believable from f i r s t by play with Cavaradossi, resp^nsively jealous to Scarpia*s trickery, and an avenging fury i n the moment most foreign to Tosca*s true nature, when a knife becomes the key to her dilemma. As.has been pointed out i n previous chapters, Kolodin seldom mentioned "acting" as such i n his reviews of Maria Callas. In his Tosca review, however, he seems to have been making an attempt to suggest the inter-dependence of singing and acting i n opera by alternating musical and dramatic terms and examples. The resulting mixture of descriptive phrases strongly suggested the homogenaaity of the Callas art. Kolodin's Tosca review continued as a pastiche of. musical and dramatic examples of the soprano*s s k i l l s . Even for those whose knowledge of the Italian text derives from the printed page rather than a close familiarity with the language, i t was clear that Callas was merging word with note i n a way that might cost her something i n purity of sound but made an explosive t o t a l i t y . The dialogue was delivered as dialogue (Callas i s the rare performer who works to her dramatic vis-a-vis rather than to the audience), but when she came to " V i s s i d*arte" there were f u l l resources 74 of vocal color and eloquence to give i t sure effect. Notable too, were the variations of movement to suit the situation-the quick eager steps when she was looking for Cavaradossi i n Act I, the complete bodily dejection when she was at Scarpia's untender mercy i n Act I I and knew i t , the upsurge of s p i r i t when she came upon the weapon. Of note, too, the plan of gesture was of another sort than i n her Norma; the strong design for the part s t i l l allowed for improvisation in the heat of performance. Recognizing the basic sound for what i t is-whitish and variable—there were few notes not securely i n place, cleanly, clearly articulated with her own kind of bland coloration, which i s not to everybody's taste but should be to anybody's comprehension....For those with an eye as well as an ear for their Toscas, Callas carried the long-skirited-4)lue-on-blue gown of Act I with an a i r , and was appropriately regal i n black—with—brilliants i n Act I I . 8 While his review was not without criticism of the performance, Kolodin*s points of contention were minor. In basic concordance with his colleagues he praised Mitropoulos for his "strong leadership" which had made this performance "a Tosca of vigour and intensity". Tosca had not been Callas most winning achievement i n her two years f l i r a t i o n with the c i t y of New York. In her f i r s t season she had dazzled her audience with Norma and Lucia, and i n her second season she had convinced the c r i t i c s and the public alike of her right to the appel-lation "La Divina" with her portrayal of Violetta i n Verdi's La Traviata. However, even from i t s modest place i n her repertoire, Tosca had created enough enthusiasm to provoke the following scene i n March 1958 sard-onically reported i n the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town": Maria Menaghini Callas* last appearance of the season at the Metropolitan occasioned affirmative and negative audience noises that went on long after the diva, as Tosca made an accomplished leap from the battlements of the Castel *Sant*Angelo, to land we hope, on a feather bed or a stagehand. It was the kind of tow usually associated with an umpires close decision on a base runner...When they (the gallery booers) shut up, everybody went home, after a f i n a l and confused "Bravol" We came away happy and bruised, our musical education complete.9 Tosca was the last role Callas performed at the Met before her notorious-feud 75 with Rudolf Bing silenced her singing there for seven years. The scene described above proved to be prophetic. Callas' reappearance i n the role seven years later was to be an equally emotional a f f a i r , but the entire audience would then be clearly i n the palm of her hand. Homecoming-Tebaldi and Tosca i n 1958 Meanwhile, Renata Tebaldi's position as the outstanding interpreter of contemporary Toscas had been challenged. Her 1957-58 season's m&ge-ments had been cancelled due to the death of her mother. When i n the f a l l of 1958 she returned i n the Puccini opera to open the Metropolitan's 74th Diamond Jubilee Season, her mastery of the character had slipped. Howard Taubman treated her more generously than most c r i t i c s i n his review i n the Times the follovjing morning. He described the excitement of opening night with approbation and affection. ''T'.Even at the inflated prices that the Met can command for. i t s opening night, the audience gets a rousing run for i t s money." For those memories had grown dim during her year's absence from the public eye he reiterated the excellences of Tebalid's vocal equipment. "Miss Tebaldi returned i n fine f e t t l e . Her voice remains one of the, most exceptional instruments of our day. It has remarkable range from the rich chest tones to the f i l i g r e e pianissimos, opulence of color and abounding reserve power." However, her singing on this occasion caused his exuberance to. flag somewhat. "She sang with control and an effort at refinement. There were places where she poured out an excess of big ones..." In the end he warmly commended her but with one abrupt reservation. "...Her " V i s s i d'arte" had taste and touching simplicity. Her performance, as a whole, was i n the grand t r a d i t i o n — a t least v o c a l l y . " 1 0 76 Even Mitropoulos, whose conducting had been highly praised i n previous seasons, received less approbation from Taubman, "Dmitri Mitropoulos conducted with the blazing temperament Tosca can support. There were a few moments when he l e t the orchestra overwhelm the prin-cipals. Fortunately, he had the singers who could ride out some tem-porary storms," Taubman*s new reservations about the conductor were even more marked than those about Tebaldi, The only art i s t i n this gala performance to provoke Taubmanfs disapproval;was Mario Del Monaco, Because the tenor attracted similar criticism from many c r i t i c s , Taubman*s strongest objection i s here examined as an indication of what c r i t i c s regarded as a tru l y reprehen-sible performance. The Times reviewer faulted Del Monaco for f a i l i n g to conform to the s t y l i s t i c requirements of Puccini's lyricism, ",,,He (jDel Monaco] insists on blasting away,,." Although Taubman clearly d i s -approved the tenor's vulgarity, his next statement seemingly justified the gaucherie. "On the other hand, you have to admit that the audience loved those trumpet—like tones." This dry comment was obiously meant to be an ironic comment on audience taste. However, i t was so understated a criticism that i t probably escap ed the notice of the very persons to which i t was addressed. The 1958 Tosca was an overblown production verging on crudity; however, the Times c r i t i c , while not wildly enthus-i a s t i c , was not on the whole disapproving. On the other hand, Ronald Eyer, who normally wrote bland and politely gracious reviews more i n the vein of publicity releases than of serious criticism, was nudged into a surprisingly gloomy corner by the "outsize" performance which marked Tebaldi*s homecoming. 77 From Scarpia ,s three great crashing chords i n the introduction, which Dimitri Metropoulos fetches down l i k e the crack of doom, the opera proceeded l i k e a kind of gladiatorial contest at which the spectators cheered on their favourites, and the climatic death of the fascistic Baron fizzled l i k e a damp firecracker amid the vocal bombs hurtling fore and aft. Tebaldi was doled out her individual share of criticism, although i t was criticism tempered by Eyer's general regard for her talent. It i s inter-esting to notice, however, that Eyer indicated an ambivalence of mind not only with respect to this particularly flamboyant performance, but also with respect to Tebaldi's interpretation of Tosca i n general. Renata Tebaldi's image of the storied Tosca i s , for some of us, an equivocal a f f a i r . First and foremost, we realized that we were hearing a Tosca with few peers i n beauty of vocal delivery and abundance of golden tone. The voice i s one of the great organs of our time, and i t could not be more aptly employed than i n the phrases expressing the high strung temperament of the singer she was portraying. Her "Vi s s i d'arte," though somewhat formal i n presentation and detached from the running fabric of the drama, was sensitively phrased and colored and produced the greatest emotional impact of the evening. In the second act, i n a gown of brown and gold brocade, Miss Tebaldi was a regal figure and, except for the very instant of the murder when Scarpia seemed simply to walk into the knife, she played the scene with a nervous agitation that was convincingly r e a l i s t i c . Else-where, however, she seemed less certain of the dramatic requirements of the role and employed distracting mannerisms of gesture.H Eyer, i n sum could not help but admire Tebaldi's natural resources, but was not much impressed by the ends toward which she employed them. The Saturday Review contained an even less generous appraisal. Mitropoulos has directed some stir r i n g Toscas since his f i r s t i n 1955, but this was not one of them. He seemed to share the view of the audience that an opening night i s an occasion for singers to renew acquaintance with their public, indulging Del Monaco and Tebaldi i n what-ever lengths they chose to prolong their ecstacies. So began Irving Kolodin's commentary on the operatic events of the evening of October 27, 1958. The remainder of his review consisted mainly of increasingly venomous barbs aimed at the considerable short-78 comings of each of the performing a r t i s t s . Like Eyer, Kolodin gave Tebaldi f u l l credit for sheer vocal beauty but indicated l i t t l e regard for much else; and unlike Taubman his disapproval of the audience's questionable taste was unmistakable., Miss Tebaldi received a tempestuous welcome at her entry and a tumult of "Bravos" for a "V i s s i d'arte" that began slowly, arching to a leisurely climax i n which power was more a factor than eloquence. In between there was a glow on the voice from the middle of the f i r s t act duet onward, a fullness and control that were good to hear, i f not productive of the theatrical i l l u s i o n thaff-makes a Tosca convincing. The youth and good looks she brings to the part are a l l i n her favour; the lack of subtlety or growth i n dramatic detail not much i n Hhe listeners. Kolodin*s f i n a l evaluation of the performance carried with i t the air of a heavy sigh. "There was, i n sum, no single reason to term this a bad Tosca, but a variety of reasons why i t wasn't a very good one." 1 2 Winthrop Sargeant's critique of the showy but ultimately tedious . Tosca i s of exceptional interest. Because the performance i t s e l f offered l i t t l e a r t i s t i c interest, the New Yorker, c r i t i c used his review to examine one of the most fascinating aspects of commercial opera prod-uction as i t has been generally practiced i n recent years. The review i s so informative and compact that i t must be seen i n i t s entirety be to/properly appreciated. Sargeant dealt not only with the problems inherent i n this gala Tosca performance, but with the problems of opera perfomanceKiintgeneral. He also revealed something of his own thought process as he sat through the performance: Fine.Points One of the endlessly fascinating things about opera i s the relation of a given singer to a given role, and the i n f i n i t e l y complicated and continually varing elements—voice, technique, appearance, dramatic a b i l i t y , personality, and so on—that enter into this relation. Almost any operatic performance i s l i k e l y to contain a few square pegs i n round holes, some mag-nificently round pegs i n round holes, and occasionally a 79 square peg of such outstanding character that i t changes the shape of the hole i t i s places i n , transforming a role to f i t i t s own peculiarities and i n the process, introducing a new and stimulating ingredient into the traditional conception of the part. A l l this happens, of course, because opera, more than any other branch of music, i s a vehicle for person-a l i t y , and because personality i s a complex and largely i n -definable and unpredictable phenomenon. The Metropolitan Opera opened the season last week, presenting i t s patrons with a repertoire that was entirely conventional—a Tosca, a Boris  Godunov, a Rigoletto« a Tales of Hoffman, and a Madame  Butterfly. Certainly there was nothing i n this l i s t of t i t l e s to raise one's blood pressure. Yet no sooner had the opening-night curtain gone up than one was involved again the age-old pleasure and excitement of appraisal. Which artists would perform well, and which badly, and why? Who would compare favourably with this or that great ar t i s t of the past? Would some well-known singer show a new development of his usual plateau, or s l i p slightly? Above a l l , to what extent would each singer succeed i n v i t a l i z i n g his role, and what would be the personal, technical, and a r t i s t i c elemeiis that led to his success or lack of i t . Tosca on opening night, offered an extremely interesting study i n this respect. I t was by no means the most b r i l l i a n t performance of the opera that I have heard, but i t had an a l l -star cast, including some of the most celebrated singers now before the public, and I found myself absorbed throughout•the evening i n analysing what they did, and i n speculating on why they did i t . The reason i t was not a particularly b r i l l i a n t Tosca appeared to l i e i n certain.fpersonal limitations evident i n of Renata Tebaldi, who sang the t i t l e role; Mario Del Monaco, who sang Cavaradossi; and Dimitri Mitropoulos, who conducted the performance. Now, a l l these people are artistSy;of::of a superior sort, who have from time to time brought me immense pleasure, and their performances last week undoubt-edly qualified as big-league ones, such as are expected at the X. Metropolitan. S t i l l , none of the three really reached that identification with Puccini's conception that i s necessary to an ideal performance. Both Miss Tebaldi and Mr. Del Monaco have very large and very beautiful voices, excellent and dependable technique, and good looks. Both of them, however, have a somewhat limited emotional spectrum. Which i s apt to f a l l short when they are called upon for tenderness, subtlety, or the finer shades of passion. In such passages Miss Tebaldi i s apt to use fussy, self-conscious mannerisms, and Mr. Del Monaco i s apt to stand and bellow with that magnificent, but rather insistent and monotonous masculinity that i s his chief distinction as a singer. Mr. Mitropoulos has a similarly limited spectrum—devoid of tenderness and repose, and encom-passing only the area of frenzied excitement. He i s very good at whipping up frenzied excitement when i t i s required but there are a few moments of relative calm, and i n these he appeared at a loss. One of the light hearted moments i s the scene between the sacristan and the choir boys i n the f i r s t act which should prepare one for the c h i l l i n g entrance of so Scarpia—a contrast that ranks among the great dramatic instants of opera. The contrast was not there because Mr. Mitropoulos made his choirboy scene every bit as frenzied as what followed i t , and i n the moment of calm after Scarpia's death, i n the second act (a moment that should intensify the desperation of Tosca as she realizes that she i s a murderess,) Mr. Mitropoulos seemed bent on pulling the score apart, as i f i t were an ecstatic sequence i n a Hungarian rhapsody. A l l i n a l l , I am inclined to award my personal prize for the evening's achievements to George London, an extremely intelligent and painstaking a r t i s t , whose portrayal of Scarpia, while not entirely smooth from a vocal standpoint, did succeed i n the sort of projection of character and mood that seemed lacking elsewhere. Scarpia's death, i n Mr. London's version, was, i n fact, one of the few really gripping episodes i n the production. The t i t l e which Sargeant chose for his article suggests something of the care which he lavished on his topic. The article i t s e l f needs no further comment. There are several points of comparison amongst the c r i t i c a l comments made about the October 1958 rendition of Tosca which should be reviewed before moving on to other performances. The four reviews discussed i n this chapter are unusually similar i n regard to specific points brought up for scrutiny and general conclusions reached. Even Taubman*s review, which was largely favourable i n i t s evalution hinted at the same flaws which the other reviews plainly asserted. Each review pointed out the following problems: Tebaldi tended to be overdone i n her vocal char-acterization and underdone i n her acting technique;; Del Monaco bellowed too often and too insistently; and Mitropoulos' exuberance overshadowed any of the subtler emotions. Eyer nearly-jparaphrased Sargeant i n writing of Tebaldi's "Distracting mannerisms of gesture," and l i k e his collea-gues, he frowned on the general din emerging from the p i t and the stage. Only George London as Scarpia received praise, and the c r i t i c ' s approbation lik e their disapproval was remarkable for i t s similarity of phrasing. A l l four c r i t i c s provided descriptions of the opening night atmosphere -81 realizing that the character and quality of the performance were much affected by the significance of the large event. As we have discovered thus far i n this study, such a degree of unanimity amongst c r i t i c s i s rare and was probably evoked by the garish and overblown quality of the performance. Later Tebaldi Toscas Despite the less than overwhelming c r i t i c a l response to her Metropo-l i t a n homecoming i n 1958, Tebaldi retained her position as a distinguished interpreter of Tosca for many years. The following exerpts from the . Italian press reported i n Theater Arts i n i 9 6 0 represent typical examples of the admiration and affection accorded her throughout, her career, particularly i n the role of Floria Tosca: Puccini celebration ends with a f a i t h f u l and admirable interpretation by Renata Tebaldi....She confirmed her qualities of purity of style, a limpid and controlled voice, of incom-parable vocal powers, and of the absolute equality of her vocal registers. A born interpreter of Puccini. (L'Uhita) A carpet of flowers for Tebaldi's return and wild applause for an evening of true bel canto. (Corriere  Lombardo) Fanatic reception at La Scala for Renata Tebaldi.... Her Tosca i s truly a woman i n love. ( J l Giorno) For Tosca at La Scala the public i s i n a state of delirium. The return of Tebaldi i s the victory of an exile. What an eventX (La Notte) Triumph at La Scala....The great art of Tebaldi i n a superb performance of Tosea....We have never heard Tosca sung so beautifully. ( L * I t a l i a ) 1 ^ Homecoming-Callas and Tosca i n 1965 The evening of March 2 2 , 1965 was the scene of another homecoming which marked one of the most celebrated operatic event of this century. Maria Callas returned to the Metropolitan stage after a seven year ab-sence i n the Franco Zeff&relli production of Tosca which had been mounted for her at Covent Garden the previous year. She had done very l i t t l e 82 singing during her absence, and rumours about serious vocal problems hovered l i k e moths around each of her rare, flickering but always incan-descent performances* Callas* two appearances i n New York culminated the series of Ca11as-Zeff1relli Toscas. The American press had f i r s t observed the London performances of the production i n January 1964, then the Paris performances i n early March 1965 with keen anticipatory interest. Peter Heyworth, correspondent for the New York Times, praised Callas* efforts almost without reservation. "Maria Callas' stage performances of late have been few and far between. But the vddely mooted notion that this i s due to vocal d i f f i c u l t i e s was effectively disproved this evening at Covent Garden where she made a triumphant return as Tosca." While Callas' singing was not flawless, Heyworth found i t better than i t had been. This i s not a role that can be carried by purely theatrical virtuousity.'r It needs singing and the soprano does just that. There was l i t t l e trace of the broad throbbing vibrato, that pinched quality of voice and the s h r i l l top notes that have disfigured so much of her recent singing. It i s many years since her voice sounded i n such.good repair or so responsive to the heavy demands she makes of i t . The Times reviewer was even more impressed by her characterization of the heroine, although he never specifically referred to her "acting" as such. But i t i s , of course, her extraordinary sensibility and almost creative sense of character that sets Miss Callas apart among present day singers. Her Tosca i s far removed from the conventional grandiloquent prima donna. She i s a nervous highly wrought creature i n whose character jealousy and devotion, heroism and hatred play with the metxurical quality of a flame. Even the old war horse "V i s s i d'arte" takes on a new meaning when i t i s sung as Miss Callas sings i t , as an interlude of inward>jreflec-tion and not as the usual sure-fire operatic aria. It i s these g i f t s of imagination and_insight that set her Tosca apart from a l l the others. * Also writing from London Thomas Heintz for Saturday Review began his review with a brief sketch of the circumstances preceeding opening night of the production. 8 3 The surprising fact i s thatifor a l l the distasteful hulla-balloo, the desperate scramble, for tickets, and the cust-omary disreputable attempts by the yellow press to rekindle the hoary old "tigress" myth, the performances emerged as some of the greatest i n the annals of Covent Garden. Framed by resplendent and gloriously solid sets that were beaut-i f u l l y l i t and supported by fine orchestral playing under Carlo Felice C i l l a r i o ' s capable but somewhat self effacing direction, two of the greatest singing actors of the post-war era brought new l i f e to the most overly melodramatic of Puccini's masterpieces. Despite his disapprobation of the pre-opening night pandemonium Heintz, l i k e Heyworth, was f u l l of praise for the performances and commented on Callas' a b i l i t y to f u l f i l l the highest expection. On the f i r s t night—before an unsuspecting audience—Callas had triumphed i n spite of having to struggle with a throat infection and a temperature. By the time I saw her, six days later, she was i n better voice than for some years past, singing with fresh confidence and producing sounds of ravishing individuality i n the lower and middle ranges, only an occasional "curdled" top note reminding us of the flawed instrument with which nature saw f i t to endow this supreme a r t i s t . Above a l l i t was Callas*. portrayal of Floria Tosca that held one spell bound. Writing i n similarly commendatory fashion, Mollie Panter Downes in the New Yorker's regularly featured column, "Letter from London^"! described the excitement generated by the impending event, and, l i k e her colleague Mr. Heintz went on to establish the remarkable degree to which Callas f u l f i l l e d expectations. The London correspondent deemed her "an ar t i s t who had [has] just proved here that no other l i v i n g prima donna can hold a candle to h e r . " I n Panter-Downes' introduction and detailed analysis of the performance one i s again struck by the instinct c r i t i c s so often seem to have had to dwell on the minutiae of a Callas performance. The New Yorker c r i t i c pointed out that Callas managed to combine originality of theatrical detail with an'impression of spontaneity. She thereby, managed to create the crucial " i l l u s i o n of the f i r s t time" that i s absolutely basic to the legitimate stage i n every performance from a 84 pressure f i l l e d night to the closing night of a two year run, but seldom even mentioned i n the operatic context. The high degree of stylization of the art form and the complexities of the international repertory system generally seem to be accepted,c.even i n newly mounted productions as insurmountable barriers to freshness of approach of finesse i n any-thing other than vocal detail; and Callas' achievement i n verisimilitude was a r a r i t y . In Paris Tosca caused the same furour and received the same praise as i n London. However, Callas' now fragile vocal capabilities, seemed inexorably to be waning. The Mew York Times' Paris correspondent Jean-Pierre Lenoir called the Zeffyrelli-Callas-Gobbi production "a f u l l blooded, but tragic work" with the traditional trappings of melodrama pared away. The high point of the opera i s the second act tussle between Tosca and Scarpia. This scene i n the hands of Miss Callas and Mr. Gobbi was woven into a consummate piece of a r t i s t r y — a passage that would alone justify the London c r i t i c s raves just last&year about "A Tosca to end them a l l . " The whole performance was overshadowed by Miss Callas, who i s i n b r i l l i a n t dramatic form. Vocally she seemed to be unsure of her upper register on several occasions and although her voice was rich and the coloring as bright as ever, i t occasionally lacked sufficient power to make i t audible against George Pretres* dynamic orchestration. For the New Yorker Geritt i n her "Letter from Paris" described the uproar outside the ticket office of the Opera where frantic fans broke the "ticket" windows i n their frenzy to obtain seats for the f i n a l per-formance. The review was reminiscent of the Panter-Downes report from London the previous year. It touched on several of the same points and came to several of the same conclusions, though with a few pertinent exceptions. Her voice sounds healthier than i t did a year ago i n her Norma series, beging devoid of frightening outcries and 85 occasionally marked only by a vibrato, l i k e worn velvet that has lost the eveness of i t s texture. Her tragic top notes, sung mi-voiz, as i f to herself, are loudly covered by the orchestra, but the middle and lower registers are unique i n their physical loveliness and i n their ministrations to her genius for emotive acting—for magnificently incarnating the musical melodrama i n which Sardou and Puccini perfectly met on the same desperate, passionate human:level. In her duality as actress and singer, Callas has seemed doubly unrivaled. In the opening act, i n the church, when, thin and agitated, she enters i n f u l l voice and i n f u l l love, one does not know which complete concentration of the senses to offer her—-whether of the ears or the eyes—so prodigious i s her performance. (Clarendon, Figaro's well seasoned music c r i t i c , opened his Callas review by saying, " I have the impression of having seen Tosca for the f i r s t time i n my l i f e . " ) In the f a t a l scene with Scarpia (handsomely sung by Tito Gobbi), she—or perhaps the stage director, Franco Zefferelli—4ias created a new long moment of dramatic tension. As she stands by Scarpia's supper table and sees a knife, there comes slowly into her face the look of decision. The knife i s i n her hand as the amorous tyrant impatiently throws himself upon her and upon i t s mortal . thr u s t — f a r better melodrama than the customary womanly rush across the stage and the bare, uplifted soprano arm with i t s brandished weapon.1' Once again we have been presented with a sense of the carefully planned detail of Callas' interpretation. Gen^t even implied that the wealth of detail was more than could be absorbed at one viewing of the per-formance. Once again we have been reminded of the feeling of immediacy that "the i l l u s i o n of the f i r s t time" creates when i t i s present i n a dramatic performance. However, Callas' voice seemed to have been working within a reduced compass of effective activity. The New York performances followed close behind the Paris triumphs. Stirred up by advance publicity and the glowing reports from abroad, American opera fans had reached near delerium. Most reviews of the New York Tosca opened with descriptions of the highly charged atmosphere surrounding the f i r s t performance. Time Magazine reported the "agonies of anticipation" on the part of fans and tagged the audiences "the most glittering i n memory."20 Newsweek declared the event "the most exciting operatic occasion America had known for years." 2 1 Harold 86 Schonberg of the New York Times called i t "Personal Triumph"-^ and likened the street scene outside the opera house to "one of the circles of Dante's Infernoi" Kolodin judged the opening performance as being not unlike that of the f i r s t game of the World Series i n which the loudest applause i s for the foul b a l l s . ^ Sargeant complained, "There was also an audience, containing a large number of notables of one sort or an-other, that applauded and shouted so loudly and continuously that i t often interfered seriously with the progress of the opera."^4 As i n London and Paris, the New York performances f i n a l l y mater-i a l i z e d , despite the incredible commotion and rumours of last minute retreat by the soprano. However, eight European performances and a trans-Atlantic f l i g h t had taken their t o l l . Callas' voice had t i r e d considerably since the Paris premiere which had already e l i c i t e d con-sternation about her vocal health from the c r i t i c s . Nevertheless, her rendering of the famous f i c t i o n a l prima donna, inspired the New York c r i t i c s to some of their most eloquent and most laudatory commentary. Time Magazine wrote, "Callas, singing the role of Tosca, made i t so [a triumphal evening], not with her voice, but with every last ounce of her siren s k i l l . " 2 5 About her acting of the role Time provided the following v i v i d description and high praise: Tosca i s a jealous lover, and Callas played the part with a pantheriah intensity, purring innocently one moment, spitting h e l l f i r e the next. In the second—act encounter with lecherous police chief Scarpia, splendidly portrayed by baritone Tito Gobbi, Callas was at her supercharged best. When the soldiers carried off her Mario, they nearly buckled under her pummeling. She lurched desperately about the stage fending off Scarpia's advances, then i n a violent flash drove a knife into his heart. Callas and Gobbi treated the Met to one of the best-acted performances i t has seen i n many a year. Her singing, however, fared less well than i t had i n years. But Tosca i s not a play; the singing's the thing. And even 87 Callas could not make i t otherwise. Never an instrument of luscious quality, her soprano last week was a thin and often wobbly echo of the voice that fled the Met in 1958, Her high notes were s h r i l l and achingly insecure, and seemed a l l the more so by contrast with the r i c h , ringing tenor of Franco Cor e l l i as Mario. In the poignant "Vi s s i d'arte" aria, Callas relied almost wholly on dramatic rather than vocal bri l l i a n c e to carry her through-—which, i n her case i s admittedly a compelling compromise. The audience certainly thought so. At the curtain, a shower of roses and confetti rained down from the galleries, and the house bravoed on for half an hour of curtain c a l l s . The Times reporter's f i n a l evaluation of the soprano echoed the audience's and having weighed his reservations he s t i l l declared her "indisuptably the most exciting operatic presence of her generation."2-* Obviously much moved by the event, the c r i t i c for Newsweek produced some of the most st i r r i n g and touching commentary regarding the fateful implications of the performance, namely, that i t would be among her l a s t . The return of a champion s t i r s the hunger for something only a champion can provide. As Callas sung and moved on the great old stage one saw what only she could provide. On this night, at 41, after a fli g h t from Paris and a quick reconciliation with the Met's Rudolf Bing, i t was not every-thing she had provided i n the past. But i t was hers, only hers, and i t was a l l the more touching for being incomplete. The remainder of the Newsweek review elaborated the juxtaposition of human glory and human f r a i l t y , a comparison which seemed to strike a powerful chord i n this journalist's heart and imagination. Callas makes opera, that epic of necessary a r t i f i c e , seem natural—an extension of human emotion into the extremes of exaltation and despair. She i s opera's Duse, a great actress for whom the singing voice i s simply the supreme gesture of a completely articulate organism. That voice, poignantly expressive i n i t s inevitable.-decline, she used with great care and intelligence, wielding Puccini's long melodic line with head, arms, and body as well as larynx, turning song into the true speech of human idealism. As Tosca, Callas was co;: quettish, imperious—as shallow and sagacious as a fi e r y , emotional woman must be. She was herself. With C o r e l l i , she had a l l the s i l k and steel of a woman i n love. With the great baritone Tito Ciobbi as the predatory Scarpia, her voice and body were a f l u t t e r of desperation i n a giant golden cage. Her " V i s s i d*arte" had the dark honeyed taste of the human w i l l resigned to i t s fate. But there were two fates being drawn—Tosca's and Callas*. The careful champion was under severe pressure that increased with every cheer. Big, deep-chested C o r e l l i , looking l i k e Gentleman Jim Gorbett i n his tight trousers, was hurling vocal thunderbolts with casual strength. Gobbi, himself a masterful actor, prefected a ferocity of sinister power. In the long third-act duet with C o r e l l i , Callas at-tacked a high note and i t skittered l i k e a bat flying out of DiMaggio*s hands. The audience choked. But Callas never faltered. She ended the opera l i k e a flame, and t o d c 3 0 minutes of curtain calls with a mellow, grateful smile, picking up a rose from the stage and pressing i t into Corelli*s hand. This was opera as i t can be—a sacrament of art and personality. ° It i s intere sting to note that the c r i t i c did not fault Callas* vocal deficiences, but accepted them as natural and inevitable. In fact, he suggested that the soprano*s flaws were intri n s i c to the rare power and poignancy of her Tosca. The.New York Times presents us with a more conventional c r i t i c a l approach/Newsweek. Beginning his analysis with a description of Callas' acting technique Harold Schonberg then went on to discuss her singing. Her conception of the role was e l e c t r i c a l . Everything at her command was put into strikingwuse. She was a woman in love, a tiger cat, a woman possessed by jealousy. In the second act she physically threw herself at the soldiers carding? off the Mario. Her face mirrored every fleeting expression implicit i n the music during her colloquy with Scarpia. This was supreme acting, unforgettable acting. About her declining capacities as a singer he said, But now we come to matters vocal, and the story i s less pleasant. Miss Callas i s operating these days with only the remnants of voice. Her top, always insecure, now i s merely a desperate lunge at high notes. She sings almost without support, and her tones are s h r i l l , squeezed and off center. It can be said that she avoided the sheer vocal desperation of her Covent Garden Tosca, singing with much more care. And i n her biggest aria, with " V i s s i d'arte," she sang i n a subdued, almost reflective.manner that made the most of the emotional content of the music, even i f the purely technical vocal aspects sometimes went by the board. 89 In conclusion, Schonberg made the following succinct evaluation of the Callas characterization: So there i t i s , and i t depends on what your are looking for i n a Tosca. I f you want brains, an awesome stage projection, intensity and musicianship, Miss Callas can supply those commodities more than any soprano around. But i f you look for voice and vocal splendor i n your Tosca, Miss Callas i s not the one to make you happy. Although the order i n which Schonberg stated the two alternatives may have indicated his personal preference for the l a t t e r , the majority of the audience presumably did not agree with him. The fans were nearly delirious i n their eagerness to show their appreciation. When the f i n a l curtain f e l l , Schonberg reported that, "The excitement dwarfed anything that had gone before—and between the acts there had been plenty of excitement."27 Irving Kolodin was predictably enthusiastic about the Callas per-formance and had many:words of praise for Gobbi*s Scarpia as well. Only Franco Corelli fared badly earning the following impatient dismissal: "Given his physical advantages and the power of sound he commands, Corelli could make himself a painter-hero of the f i r s t rank, but this would take an alteration of attitude for which there i s no reasonable hope." On the other hand, Kolodin tried his best to see Callas perfor-mance i n the most favourable light excusing the "variable singing early i n the evening as being the result of the carnival atmosphere of the occasion.1' Callas* triumphal moments were recounted i n admiring de t a i l . Adroitly, expertly, skilled by long experiencedtogether they played to each other*s strength t i l l i t was no longer Callas and Gobbi but Tosca and Scarpia i n their, immemorial contest. Inevitably as the outcome had to be, when the curtain f e l l on- her stumbling figure backing out the door from the room where Scarpia lay dead, everybody knew why Callas i s Callas. This was no sudden spurt to the f i n i s h line for a dramatic effect, but the inexorable period to a long, art-f u l l y constructed paragraph of characterization. It had 90 i t s beginnings i n the h o s t i l i t y that bristled i n her entrance, her suspicion of a "reason" (female) why Cavaradossi kept her waiting, at the Chapel door. It turned as quickly to melting tenderness and as suddenly surged to i r r i t a t i o n because he was preoccupied and inattentive. By the end of of the act, when she was dabbling her eyes i n vexation with his seeming deceit, the statement had been clearly made— Floria Tosca was a creature of moods and impulses, as unpred-ictably apt to chide one who blasphemed before the Madonna as to forgive her own offense, with a vengful core beneath the overlay of sanctity. A l l this i s i n the text, of course, but not much of i t i s i n the average Tosca, or even those above average ones who have more beauty of sound to dispose than Callas has, and thus an easier access to audience se n s i b i l i t i e s . As she worked on, she l e f t both average and above-average Toscas S far behind, as one small detail and then another were woven into her texture of purpose. The best and most original come just where Sardou's play ordained, and Puccini's score confirmed that i t shouldibe. How Tosca discovers the knife with which she destroys Scarpia i s l e f t , mostly.}-, to the individual performer. Callas differed from a l l the others i n the simplest way. She did not discover the knife. The knife discovered her. As she stood:at the table, a wine glass at her l i p s to refresh her-self after the tussle with the policeman-lecher, the metal was transformed to a glint in her eyes. A slight hesitation i n putting the glass back on the table, a small inclination of the body (nothing gross enough to attract the attention unless one were watching her closely) gave a whisper of the plan forming i t s e l f i n her mind. It remained but a plan u n t i l Scarpia approached; she lunged for the object on the table and in the same motion plunged i t into his chest. It was the only way a moody,}- impulsive, unpredictable Tosca could have done what she had to do, when the vengeful core erupted through the sanctity that enclosed i t . Thus was finalized the state-ment of character which Callas had begun some two hours before..., Kolodin was surprisingly harsh with regard to her vocal performance. Of course, during a l l this time she was singing a goodildeal, with a vocal resource that seemed under better discipline though with substantially less expressive power than when she was last heard (also as Tosca) on this stage. What seems probable i s that Miss Callas has composed her vocal problem by adopting a production that gives her,, for this kind of role, access to a l l the notes she needs. But i t i s without question a hard sound, with fewer variations of color and inflection than she once possessed. When i t came to straightforward singing, as i n "Vis s i d'arte", i t was neither beautiful nor beguiling;:;;. Rather than being the high point of the effort, as i t i s for some, i t was, with Callas, merely an incident (for a l l the applause i t evoked 91 in certain areas). But where others may f a l t e r , she ex-celled, which gave her effort i t s own inimitable stamp of dramatic authenticity. The intelligence of CallasJ performances had always impressed Kolodin, and that intelligence had never been more in evidence than i n the 1965 Tosca. Kolodin speculated that the details of the performance had been calculated with the precision of a battle plan, and he implied that they were carried out with much the same s p i r i t . By comparison to the sagacity and finesse of«the Callas portrait Gobbi was mildly c r i t i c i z e d . " He was not quite so resolute i n his plan as Callas, devia-ting to a sortie of sound now and then, as at the end of Act I and the beginning of Act I I , which confirmed rather than denied that his vocal reservoir i s running drier a l l the time." Kolodin was not the only c r i t i c to appreciate Callas* powers of discrimination. A keen admir-ation of the soprano's intelligence was i n evidence amongst a l l his colleagues during the entire Tosca series. In fact, i t would seem i n retrospect that as her vocal resources withered her other resources blossomed to compensate for the loss..* It also seems l i k e l y that when Callas* vocal pyrotechnics lost their b r i l l i a n c y , her other accomplish-ments shone more clearly. Kolodin closed his review with a comment • which might easily have referred to the Renata Tebaldi Tosca of October 1958. " I t was, unquestionably, a night to remember, especially on the next night when Tosca seems d u l l and lacklustre, due to no fault of Sardou, or I l l i c a and Giacosa, who transformed his play into a li b r e t t o , or, least of a l l , P u c c i n i . " ^ Perhaps the least expected c r i t i c a l ardor was demonstrated by Winthrop Sargeant. Although he had over the years conscientiously documented his gradual metamorphosis from a neutral observer into an admirer of Maria Callas, he emerged at the eleventh hour of her carrer as an adamant devotee. Outdoing even her staunch supporter, Mr. Kolodin 92 Sargeant simply dismissed the vocal problems as "irrelevant." The t i t l e of the review was simply "Callasl," and having opened his commentary with a sketch of the pre-curtain events, he went on to praise i n glowing terms the degree to which Callas lived up to the heady anticipation of her f i r s t entrance. Miss Callas* reception was, I must say, every bit. deserved. She was an electrifying on the stage—youthful, graceful, sensitive, beautiful to contemplate—and she lived the role as no other singer within my memory, except perhaps Mary Garden, has lived i t . Miss Callas i s a unique creature— already, i n fact, a legend. Her voice, considered purely i n terms of decibels, was not overwhelming the other night, and i t was very art f u l l y handled i n order to curt a i l high notes that might have got out of hand had any forcing taken place. But that same voice, considered from the standpoint of expression and emotional shading, was marvellous to hear, recalling, from time to time, the voice of. the great Claudia Muzio. I make these comparisons with Garden and Muzio simply to provide some frame of reference. Callas, perhaps the most individual operatic artist of our time, and a consideration of her voice as an athletic instrument i s almost irrelevant, because i t separates a mere facet from a t o t a l stage personality that can grip and hold an audience as few singers of today can. From her f i r s t en-trance right on to her dive off the battlements of the Castel Sant'Angelo, she was a l i v i n g , suffering, palpi-tating presence, giving herself i n love, dissemblance, fury, and tragic resignation, and drawing her listeners into.her emotions with a power that was almost hypnotic. Sargeant's euphoria over the soprano's performance spilled over into his evaluation of the other performers as well. Gobbi was described as one of the great Scarpias, "poised, insinuating, occasionally savage, but, unlike most others, aristocratic and almost lighthearted i n his sadism." Even Corelli whose "voice flowed forth l i k e the phenomenon of nature that i t i s " came i n for his share of praise. Sargeant called the per-formance "one of Mr. C o r e l l i 1 s best evenings, and though art seldom modified nature, the effect was s t i l l imposing."2^ Perhaps Sargeant's characteristic rapture over Tosca was prompted by a premonition of doom. The New York production was to most intents 93 and purposes Callas* swan song. Her career had come to an end i n over-whelming resurgence of admiration and acclaim. It i s l i k e l y that every c r i t i c sensed the f i n a l i t y of the event for each rose to the historic occasion with eloquence and, one might almost claim, sheer kindness. Flawed though i t was, the series of Z e f f I r e l l i Toscas may well have been Callas* finest achievement, not only because of the intensely human quality of the performance i t s e l f , but also because i t inspired the c r i t i c s to eloquent philosophic reflection on the nature of operatic performance and art and the entire spectrum of human endeavor. Each c r i t i c i n his own fashion seemed to be echoing the thought which Newsweek quoted the diva herself as voicing, "Glory makes one afraid because one understands i t isn't natural." The reviewer went on to add, "But humans cannot do without glory, which i s why they cannot do without Cal l a s . " 3 0 Conclusion Notice should be taken at the conclusion of this chapter of the fact that opera reviews seldom dwell on the stage director's contrib-ution to a production. Ordinarily this neglect i s understandable because most operatic performances are so far removed from the newly mounted production as to bear l i t t l e resemblance to the director's original concept. However, the c r i t i c a l neglect has been evident even i n our study of Callas' last Tosca which had only recently been set on the stage by Franco Z e f f i r e l l i , a director of international reputation. The lack of attention to the directorial arts i s a further manifestation of the secondary importance accorded the dramatic and theatrical aspects of operatic performance. It i s also an indieationrof the emphasis placed in opera on the individual performer, including the conductor. 94 Returning to our examination of Tosca we find that though Renata Tebaldi*s career was longer and she performed more often than Maria Callas, her enormous popularity never sparked the kind of emotionalism evoked by Callas' last Toscas. Callas often seemed a warrioress who . battled self-made dragons; however, her courage was as great as her creative imagination. The element of desperation evident i n Callas* work but foreign to Tebaldi's personality was doubtless a necessary ingredient for the impassioned accolades which were as much tributes to valour as to victory. Although Callas* acting performances earned detailed critism not accorded Tebaldi, the most consistent difference between c r i t i !cisms of the two sopranos' performances of Tosca was i n the area of vocal talent and s k i l l . Paradoxically, whereas Callas was faulted, especially i n later years, for not having sufficient voice l e f t for the role, Tebaldi was periodically c r i t i c i z e d throughout her career for having or, at least, giving too much scope to her abundant vocal resources. Callas was a prodigious operatic actress, but to attribute her phenomenal success to her dramatic s k i l l alone would be to^oversimplify. She was an extraordinary performer who conceived her characterizations as summations of a l l her resources. The attention she lavished on every element of operatic performance added a dimension to the world's understanding of o p e r a q u i t e possible," that had Tebaldi's vocal excellence equaled" Callas' histrionic excellence the world would have afforded her equal acclaim. However, i t seems clear that i t was not so. much Callas, the actress, as Callas, the unique t o t a l i t y , who changed the face of twent.ieth century opera. 95 ^inthrop Sargeant, "Musical Events," New Yorker 31 (March 19, 1955): 110. 2 Irving Kolodin, "Music to My Ears," Saturday. -Review 38 (March 2 6 , 1955): 2 7 . 3 Howard Taubman, "Stunning Tosca," New York Times 34 (December 9 , 1955): 2 . • Sftnthrop Sargeant, CD'eeembeT^ •17,- 1955): 137. ' • 5 ^Winthrop Sargeant, "Musical Events .'"-'New Yorker 31 (March 19, 1955): HO. ^Ronald Eyer, "Records and Audio," Musical America 74 (January 1 , 1954): 1 6 . n "Maria Callas Sings Tosca at the Met," New York.Times 24 (November 16, 1956): 5 . 8 Irving Kolodin, "Music to My Ears: Callas i n Tosca. S t e l l a , Borkh, Paray," Saturday Review 39 (November 17, 1956): 5 1 . 9"Talk of the Town," New Yorker 34 (March 15, 1958): 3 1 . 10 Howard Taubman, "The Opera: Renata Tebaldi Returns to the 'Met* i n Tosca." New York Times 41 (October 28, 1958): 4 . "^Ronald Eyer, "Dramatic Tosca Opens Season at Metropolitan," Musical  America 78((November 15 , 1958): 3 . 12 Irving Kolodin, "Music to My Ears," Saturday -Review 41 (November 8, 1958): 27. 13 "TJinthrop Sargeant, "Musical Events: Fine Points," NewgYorker 34 (November 8, 1958): 112. l 4"Trionfa a l i a Scala," Theater-Arts 44 (March i 9 6 0 ) : 5 0 . 15 ^Peter Heyworth, "Callas Triumphs i n London as Tosca," New York Times 30 (January 2 2 , 1 9 6 4 ) : 3 . Thomas Heintz, "The Other Side: The Callas Tosca," Saturday Review 47 (February 2 9 , 1964): 2 9 . ^ M o l l i e Panter-Downes, "Letter from London," New Yorker 39 (February 1 5 , 1964): 116. 18 Jean-Pierre^Lenoir, "Callas as Tosca i n Paris," New.York Times 17 (February 2 0 , 1965): 4 . 19Geri£t, "Letter from Paris," New .Yorker 41 (March 2 0 , 1965): 162. 96 20 "Opera: Return of the Prodigal Daughter," Time 85 (March 26, 1965): 37. 01 "Music: Encore, Callas," Newsweek 65 (March 29, I965): 78. 22 Harold C. Schoriberg. "Opera: Maria Callas Returns to the Met i n Tosca." New York Times 17 (March 20, 1965): 1. 23 ^Irving Kolodin, "Music to My Ears: The Callas-Corelli-Gobbi Tosca." Saturday Review 48 (April 3» 1965): 28. 2^Jinthrop Sargeant, "Musical Events: Callas!," New, Yorker 41 (March 27, 1965): 171. 2 5"Opera: Return of the Prodigal Daughter," Time 85 (March 26, 1965): 37. 26 "Music: Encore, Callas," Newsweek 65 (March 29, 1965): 78, 27 'Harold C, Schonberg, "Opera: Maria Callas Returns to the Met i n Tosca." New York Times 17 (March 20, 1965): 1 . 28 Irving Kolodin, "Music to My Ears: The Callas-Corelli-Gobbi Tosca." Saturday Review 48 (April 3, I965): 28. 2 % i n t h r o p Sargeant, "Musical Events: Callas!," New Yorker 41 (March 27, 1965): 171. 3°"Music: Encore, Callas," Newsweek 65 (March 29, 1965): 78. 97 CHAPTER V-OTHER PERSPECTIVES In attempting to analyze critical approaches to acting in opera we have been comparing reviews of New York operatic productions performed by Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi. Before concluding our study, we will examine other aspects of the two sopranos' work, such as recordings, concert performances and pedigogy. Off the Record An operatic performance is a complete and richly detailed experience; but an operatic performance which features the debut of an international celebrity is almost too much for even the experienced reviewer to assimilate fully, much less recreate in a few short columns of print minutes after the performance has ended. Previous chapters have demonstrated that after time for reflection critics often change their opinions of performers and per-formances. Recording reviews, on the other hand, are presumably written under less hurried circumstances and allow the critic unlimited oppor-tunities to examine and re-examine a performance. Devoid of the trappings of the stage, a recorded performance presents the reviewer with a purely musical phenomenon to assess. Significantly, however, record reviews are often indistinguishable from stage performance reviews in their treatment of the dramatic expertise of singers. Kolodin, Callas and Norma Consider, for instance, the following review by Irving Kolodin of Maria Callas's first recording of Norma. The article was written after Kolodin had witnessed Callas1 highly acclaimed Chicago performance of Norma. Although he was eventually to become an avid admirer of Callas, 98 his enthusiasm at this time was st i l l muted. It is Miss Callas' essential virtue to be a convincing Norma from the first to the last by drawing on those resources of dramatic projection and deeply emotional natures conveyed to us through her Elvira in I Puritani, Santuzea in Cavalleria and Lucia (if by no means her recent Violetta). Futhermore, all the voice she has to offer is not too much for this immense part, and it has the tragic accent which is wanted. Technically, it is decidedly erratic, not at the best in "Casta Diva" or "Mira, 0 Norma".... Conceeding that two of the high points of the opera/of dubious quality he, nevertheless, reiterated Callas' strengths. Against this, however, one has to measure Miss Callas' ability to form such a phrase as "Teneri, teneri" (where she is contemplating the murder of her children) with the powerful musical sense and a real emotional impact, or the blood-curdling "Quera", when she has decided to let her people have at the oppressive Romans, or the vengeful "Tutti! . I Romani". The simple fact is that instead of putting all her emotional eggs into the one basket of "Casta Diva" (with a few left over for the duet) Miss Callas rises to every expressive height, which is as much as one can ask in any inter-preter of such a complex role. It is not the beautiful sound remembered from some performances of Milanov, or her j records or Cigna's, Ponselle s or Muaio's, but it IS Norma." Kolodin freely mixed his comments regarding Callas' dramatic, musical and vocal accomplishments plainly viewing her expertise as a totality rather than a collection of less skills. It is equally significant to note that Kolodin based his conclusion that Callas WAS Norma on purely auditory data. Callas, Tebaldi and La Gioconda The following group of reviews is of a disparate nature; and although comparison of such a variety of performances and critics is difficult, certain pertinent conclusions are to be gained by the attempt. Writing for Saturday Review |aul Hume in his 1953 review of the Callas Gioconda concentrated on describing the soprano's vocal equipment. Though not moved to write a finely detailed account of the dramatic £ aspects of the performance, he was impressed by the sheer intensity of Callas' impersonation. Her Gioconda is assured,^passionate, a triumphant concep-tion that starts at an incredibly high level and moves steadily upward from that point to a final act of blaring intensity. Callas has an even scale from a black-hued low chesty voice to an ecstatic high C and D flat of superb quality and perfect control. Her middle voice is of such velvet in forte and pianissimo as to startle you every time it is heard. And Callas has the innate intelligence to keep the voice alive to every inflection with the temperament of a Muzio. No higher praise is possible from this poor typewriter than to have mentioned a contemporary soprano in the same paragraphs with Raisa and Muzio. Hume's mention ofiClaudia Muzio provided a valuable point of reference with regard to his standards of excellence. Her name appeared in an earlier review in which he assessed the merits of Tebaldi as Manon Lescaut. "...In vocal finesse Tebaldi is magnificent. She shades every word and note with that Muaio-like imagination that makes her so 3 glorious these days." Favourable comparison with Muaio, the great dramatic soprano of an earlier decade, was tantamount to perfection as far as Hume was concerned; and it is noteworthy that both Callas and Tebaldi earned this compliment from him. "Reanimated War Horse" was the title and theme of Robert Sabin's analysis of the early Callas Gioconda recording. Thanks to the superb singing of Maria Callas, a generally excellent cast and a vigorous performance, this recording reanimates the faded measures of Ponchielli's La Gioconda. Even with out the sumptuous stage spectacle, upon which the music depends for much of its effect, the opera is generally vivid as it is performed here. Miss Callas has the unusual vocal requirements for the title role. She has ringing top tones with great body and brilliance, and tones of equal beauty in the lower range. The voice for all its volume and power, is flexible and the scale is even. She is able to negotiate the wide leaps in the vocal part with complete security. Even when there is a trace of effort the voice never looses its vibrant richness. 100 Sabin pointed out a few specific examples in which various members of the cast excelled. However, on the whole the review reveals a focus of interest and a set of values similar to that of Mr. Hume. Although Sabin described in detail the unusual Callas vocal equipment he contented himself with a generalized description of her suitability to the role. Sabin closed his review with strong words of praise for her singing: "La Gioconda is an old musical bag of bones, but it can be stirring when it is sung as it is in this outstanding recording." It should be remembered that these two reviews appeared at a time when Callas was a little known soprano to the American operatic public. The Gioconda recording was, in fact, one of the earliest opportunities for people on this side of the Atlantic to experience her art. It is remarkable so early in her career that Callas' performance was accorded more than a few lines of general description by the American press. While neither Hume nor Sabin hailed Callas as an emerging operatic goddess, something about her recorded performance caught and held their attention longer than their official obligations necessi-tated. Ordinarily, the quality of the voice itself would be the primary concern of a recording review. However, knowing of Callas' future reputation as an actress one wonders if it was not "the blazing intensity"«6Xshersaeting rather than the "vibrant richness" of her voice which was the truly arresting fact of the recorded performance. It is a pertinent truism that people tend to see what they expect to find and that the new, the unusual or the unexpected is often over-looked. Callas' unique gifts may initially have been difficult for even the experienced critic to divine much less predict the significance of. 101 By contrast to Hume's and Sabin's reviews of early Callas, Robert Jacobson's review of Tebaldi's 1968 Gioconda is notable for its focus on the soprano's dramatic conviction. As revealed in the new Metropolitan Opera production of La Gioconda last season, something in the Renata Tebaldi make up strikes a responsive chord to the Ponchielli-Boito blood and thunder concoction of all-powerful mother-love, jealousy, self-sacrifice and unrequited love. Despite a v fleeting struggle and edginess with a few tones over an A, the soprano is at the height of her post-Adriana Lecouvreur vocal powers on London's new and vivid document of her newest—and perhaps most memorable--portrayal. The crown of her commanding performance is as it should be in the fourth act—the dramatic and musical cream of the Victor Hugo-based melodrama. Beginning with the famous "Suicidio", she identifies totally withall the tortures, conflicts, and calamities that have befallen this poor street singer. By the time she begins to adorn herself for the treacherous Barnabe, she emerges a great committed tragic figure. -* Eonchielli's opera received from Jacobson much the same contempt that Mr. Sabin had accorded it fifteen years earlier, and Tebaldi, like Callas, was given credit for overcoming the triviality of the plot and breathing life into the tired heroine. However, considering Tebaldi's reputation as a bella voce singer, Mr. jacobson spent remarkably little time disscussing her vocal expertise. Perhaps he felt it unnecessary to linger over the soprano's predictable virtues in 1968 by which time her reputation had become familiar to the operatic public.t; The second paragraph of the Tebaldi review follows unmistakably the pattern of later Callas reviews which tried to convey the precise theatrical aptness of the renowned singing actress' performances. It should be pointed out that Telbaldi had been known to have had a very close relationahip with her own mother and had suffered a serious nervous and psychological collapse after her mother's death in 1957. The soprano may, thus, have had a special affinity for Gioconda 102 (though it is equally possible that the critics expected such rapport and saw in the performance that which they were predetermined would exist). It should be observed that like Irving Kolodin's Norma review, Jacobson* s article could apply witWiminor changes to a staged production of the opera. The contrast between the musically oriented early Callas reviews and the dramatically oriented late Tebaldi review suggests that posses-sion of an exceptionally beautiful voice may curtail a singer's ability to give effective dramatic performances. Certainly, a singer who is totally concerned with producing endlessly beautiful tones greatly limits his or her dramatic range. Furthermore, a singer with a glorious voice need do little else than sing to satisfy the public. When the voice of an experienced artist begins to weaken, however, compensatory assets must be developed if an active career is to be maintained. Thus, both Callas' and Tebaldi's dramatic powers may have grown in direct proportion to their failing vocal abilities. It may also be true that a beautiful voice controlled by fine technique is so overwhelming a phenomenon that it may blind even the most professional observer to a performer's other excellences. Callas and Tebaldi-One Critic's Retrospective Comparison For a straight forward comparison of the recordings of Callas and Tebaldi let us look now at George Movshon's article in High Fidelity entitled "Callas and Tebaldi-Yesterday and Today" in which he compared two collections released in late 1969 of selections from the familiar and the lesser known repefftjires of each by that time legendary soprano. The review bore the subtitle, "Two new releases shed light upon the 103 careers of the divas who once monopolized an operatic era." Movshon opened his comparison with the following indication of his high esteem for both singers: "If recordings can be said to be reflections of a music age, then both these sets deserve to be encased in amber and kept in a time capsule. Song fanciers of later generations will then have some inkling of what was right, operatically, with our era, and what was wrong. Consider the polarities represented here." The review was comprehensive5 however, Movshon introduced his detailed criticisms with a discussion which questioned the efficacy of comparing the singers at all. How incredible that these two singers were ever rivals, that the partisans of one rose in the theater to hiss the other, that a feud was believed to rage between them! No two sopranos were ever more dissimilar, nor differed so drastically in style and temperament. Can you imagine cheering mink and booing sable, hailing gouda and scorning cheddar, clapping Laurel and hissing Hardy? Not only were they divergent in approach and manner, but they were in a real sense complementary to each other: each would have been less without the presence of the other in the same art and a age. The age—and let us hope it is not yet over—may go down in the performance history of Italian opera as the Callas/Tebaldi period,...How easy it is to fall into the same trap as the partisans...and start calling one artist 'Wfct:fee-ri,ythan another without bothering to detail what they are better in or better at. And how irrelevant to the simple truth: the opera and the record catalogue need both the silk of Tebaldi at her best and the steel thrust of Callas at hers. Movshon's effort to put the singers into perspective was laudable, but the conclusions he reached may?not have accurately represented his true feelings. His choice of an utterly safe approach to a highly controversial issue and the remainder of the article,which is heavily weighted in Callas' favour,lead one to suspect the sincerity of Movshon's claim to neutrality. Tebaldi received warm, but, restrained praise while Callas was accorded comments such as the following: 104 ...Callas, whose anger as the betrayed Norma cannot be described in words, whose presence on any stage domin-ates the action totally, whose inventiveness, insight, and thrusts at truth are unique in opera [sic]. Even when her voice says no and refuses to follow her command, she makes her intentions plain. Listen to the appalling flubbed tenuto that ends the Cenerentola aria in this collection—as awful a bleat as you will find on a professional record—and see if you don't agree that what it is really saying is; There! That's all my voice will allow. But I am showing you what 1 intend: that's the important thing." And in the interview record whe sums it up more tightly s t i l l : "Art," she says, "is more than beauty." Callas fans will have most of this material already; and what is more they have acquired the knack of listening past (or through) the vocal wounds to the noble concept that often lies beyond. Although the preceeding passages cannot be regarded as unqualified praise for Callas, they could be construed as an ingenious apology for her imperfect, if arresting talents. Whatever his true feelings regarding the two singers may have been, the main point which Movshon attempted to make, that comparison of such dissimilar artists is a meaningless endeavour, is valid and provides a reflective note on which to conclude our brief evaluation of recording reviews. Telbaldi in Concert Although less attenuated in theatriality than recordings, the concert platform also represents an incomplete form of operatic performance. Exerpts from opera often round out a recital program and complete operas, especially unusual ones, are occasionally performed without the paraphrenalia of the stage. Both Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas appeared on the concert platform frequently throughout their careers and reviews of their performances provide further insight into their artistry. Soon after Tebaldi had established herself as one of the finest 105 artists on the Metropolitan stage, she distinguished herself even further in the recital hall. The soprano gave here first North American recital in December 1955 in Garnegie Hall, and Irving Kolodin was on hand for Saturday Review to review her non-operatic debut. Ridiculous as it may sound, Renata Tebaldi--who has but recently sung the best Tosca heard here in years--was an even finer artist at her first recital in Carnegie Hall last week that in most of her opera appearances. That is to say, divested of the trappings of the opera stage, and freed rom the necessity of singing over an orchestra, the purity of the voice, the simple sincer-ity of her musicianship, and the outgoing warmthsiof her personality made for an experience beyond any expectations. Tebaldi sang an all-Italian program, the content of which caused Kolodin minor reservations. Otherwise, he was filled with admiration for her excellent singing. ...Tebaldi commanded the attention with her fine phras-ing, the easy adaptability of the big voice to the 7 requirements of the more intimate material. As she moved on..., the vocal colors glowed more and there was a communication with the listener that marked her as the rare kind of singer who can work the fjine line as well as the large.7 It is significant that Kolodin implied that "the trappings of the opera stage" were obstacles to the artistry of Tebaldi, and that he regarded the recital performance as superior to her best achievement at the Metropolitan. Kolodin's comments were also entirely concerned with her singing and with her non-operatic selections and made little reference to her sense of drama or characterization. Two months later the New York Times reviewed another Tebaldi recital. In this instance, the reviewer felt compelled to comment not only on the quality of her singing, but also on the relationship between the emotional impact of her concert performance and that of 106 a fully staged operatic performance. Her beautifully controlled, expressive singing of the "Ave Maria" from Otello was worth going to hear. The long line of the phrases was unbroken. Intonation was true >~M4\ and the quality of tone was charming. In her performance with Mr. Bastianifti, of the second act duet from La Traviata, Miss Tebaldi conveyed by vocal means alone some of the poignancy of the stage situation. It seems clear that Miss Tebaldi is something more than a vocal technician. She is also an artist who can convey emotion through song. The two qualities do not always go together.8 It should be pointed out that although the Times reviewer gave Tebaldi high praise, he credited her with captivating "by vocal means alone" only "some of the poignancy of the stage situation!!. Not that he had meant this as a disparaging comment. On the contrary, he obviously considered any evocation of the staged performance to be a major accomplishment under the circumstances. The Times*' evaluation of the dramatic aspect of Tebaldi's concert performance stands in marked contrast to comments generally made regarding similar Callas performances and should be kept in mind for future comparison. Making a further contribution to our understanding of Tebaldi, Robert Sabin included an excellent analysis of the factors that made Tebaldi the impressive popular as well as artistic success that she was in his review in Musical America of her Carnegie Hall recital in March 1957. Singers when they are as radiant of heart and magni-ficent of voice as Renata Tebaldi, have the most potent spell of all over audiences and it was not surprising that the thousands who packed the hall and the stage at this recital gave this beloved artist a long ovation before she had uttered a sound. Miss Tebaldi beautifully gowned in white and positively throwing off sparks rewarded us with an evening of some of the most exciting vocalism imaginable. The sheer volume and intensity, of her voice are almost overpowering in themselves, but quite as extra-ordinary is her ability to spin out tones and color and shapej phrases in dramatic context. 107 Arias by Handel, Gallippi, and Scarlatti revealed the fine taste as well as the virtuousity of the artist. 'K If she sang Mozart's "Ridente la calma" too operatically, she was again in the vein in an enchanting performance of "Un moto di gioia". Utterly delightful was Rossini's cycle "La Regata Venezian", in which Miss Tebaldi gave us %H true portrait of the Anzoleta and her feelings. One envied her happy and triumphant Moraolo, so captivating was the character. A dream of limpid floating tone and far-flung line were her performances of Bellini's "Vaga luna che inargenti" and Davico's "0 luna che fa' lune", which she had to repeat. Among the encores were several arias, none of them more gorgiously sung than "Io son l'umile ancella", ;:from Cilea's Adriana Lecouvceur.9 Sabin's remarks concerning her individual selections were a compen-dium of excellences. It should be recalled at this point that Mr. Sabin's review of Maria Callas' Gioconda recording was notable for its preoccupation with the exclusively vocal virtues of the album. Faced with the actual presence of Renata.Tebaldi on the concert stage Sabin showed somewhat more awareness and concern with the dramatic aspects of performance. He even identified personally with Anzoleta's lover Momolo in response to Tebaldi's interpretation of a character which was not even f rom the opera repevfoire. Viewing Tebaldi outside the complex, cluttered context of the opera stage, the critique by Sabin manged to capture vividly the nature of her popularity. To put it in the simplest terms, the famous soprano was a nice person with talent. But her "niceness" had an expansive, emphatic quality that communicated itself directly to her audience, and her talent, of course, was enormous. In fact, everything about Tebaldi was larger than life in an uncannily literal and unaffected fashion. It did not matter from the point of view of simple emotional communication whether or not she did a convincing impersonation of a character because she was herself, without any selfconsciousness, 108 a great and endearing character. Any spectator or auditor was, there-fore treated to a moving human experience while absorbing her art, even when that experience may not have been precisely what the libret-tist had had in mind. Perhaps the clear, simple focus of the concert platform allowed for a more appropriate evaluation of Tebaldi's particular genius; but only the grandeur of theQopera house could provide a large enough frame for the magnitude of her human and artistic presence. Callas in Concert Maria Callas also gave many concert performances especially between the years 1957 and 1959 when her warring status with so many major opera companies kept her off the operatic stage. Callas in December of 1957 provided Newsweek with the opportunity to describe a scene, in which the elegant soprano made shrewd use of a few simple, but striking theatrical effects and, otherwise, concentrated on singing superbly. Newsweek reported the following excerpt from John Rosenfield of the Dallas Morning News, who the national magazine dubbed "the most influential critic in the Southwest": The soprano may not be a vocal paragon...but she is a svelte ensemble of voice, good musicianship, and interpretive conviction who registers a dramatic and emotional point with the slug of an unerring sledge hammer....What she does to an old showpiece by Bellini and Donizetti...makes a living art out of a dead esthetic language.10 In addition to Rosenfield's praise Callas received enthusiastic commendation from Dorothea Bourne writing for Theater Arts. To heighten the soprano's own personal magnetism and a golden gown that was worthy of Dietrich, Manhattan's famed lighting expert ilean Rosenthal set Callas like a Tanagra figurine in a huge shadow box. Her magic worked on even the tone deaf. But for those with ears as well as eyes, it was an even greater night. Having carefully, but none too artfully, negotiated 109 her way through the tortuous tessitura of "Martern aller Arten" from Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, Callas moved serenely into her natural realm with Bellini, Verdi and Donizetti. In the opening phrases of "Qui la voce" from I Puritani, she showed herself s t i l l to be queen of Bellini singers, and with "Lady Macbeth's Letter Scene (Verdi), and above all the final scene and aria from Doniaetti's Anna Bolena, Callas proved to everyone's :-: awed delight that when she is rested, able and willing to sing, she is in Veritas Empress and Defender of the Faith of Italian opera's world-wide dominions. Throughout her eight taxing arias including Violetta's "Sempre libera" (Verdi' La Traviata) there was some shrillness evident in the top of Callas' range; but her evocation of those old-fashioned heroines made them immediately recognizable to Texans as sympathetic and thrillingly star-crossed women.11 In January 1959 Callas again triumphed on the concert stage, this time in Paris. Everett Helm reporting for Saturday Review briefly praised the general excellence of her singing, then proceeded to elaborate on the formula for success with which she caused, "Pandemonium to break [broke]] loose." Step by step, Mme. Callas had completely conquered her audience, the Rossini piece ('JliUnavvoee^ pocoifa", Barber  of Seville) was indeed perfection itself. But it was not her singing that had captivated the Parisians--it was equally the fascination of her personality and her ability as an actress. Without benefit of costumes or scenery she established, by discreet gestures and miming, the dramatic atmosphere of each aria in a way that was of artificially theatrical but distinctly "grand".12 The preceeding three reviews demonstrate that Callas knew the value of theatrical effect even when performing on other than the operatic stage. It is equally apparent that the soprano was able to achieve characteri-zation of remarkable completeness without the benefit of plot, sets, costumes or stage movement. II Pirata in Concert Unexpectedly, one of Maria Callas' most successful New York 110 . performances was a concert rendition of Bellini's 11 Pirata at Carnegie Hall in 1959. Typically, the performance was navigated cautiously over an undercurrent of strong emotionalism because it was the soprano's first New York appearance since the outbreak of her well-publiciz:ed feud with the Metropolitan's general manager, Rudolf Bing. Newsweek reported the event in an article entitled "The Time Was 10:05", observing that the early part of the evening preceeded calmly and decorously until Imogene's "Mad Scene". ...Callas, who had stormed her way into-and-out-of-most of the world's major opera houses, was determined to u«s make Carnegie Hall count. It did. At 10:05, almost two hours after the performance had begun, the singing actress came to life. As the moment arrived for her big solo Mad Scene, the tradi-tional half-light of the concert hall was lowered and the theatrical magic of a blacked-out opera house took over. When a single spot light flickered fitfully and picked out her reed-like figure, she began to sing. Once again by voice and gesture, she transformed herself into a wraithlike creature from another world, an enchantress who could, and did, drive most of her audience into a howling half-hour ovation.13 Next morning in the New York Times Howard Taubman reflected on the event. He described in detail the technical effects which went into making the most of Callas' spectacular solo turn. a For the concluding number, one of those mad scenes in which Italian composers of the nineteenth century liked to have their prima donnas expire, the lights were doused. Only the lamps on the instrumentalists desks remained on and a spotlight played on Miss Callas. This wasn't the Met, but it was the atmosphere of the opera house. Miss Callas rose to the occasion here. One no longer kept an eye on her Empire style white satin gown with its<j embroidery of beads and sequins nor on the long red stole that she handled throughout the performance with the skill of one who knows how to make an effect. Her companions in the cast had slipped off the stage, as they had finished their chores. Now she stood alone in one spot, a slim, intent Hil figure emanating the magic of the theater. I l l Newsweek had informed us that until the moment of the "Mad Scene" the formal conventions of concert performance were strictly observed, but Callas, the show woman, knew well how and when to manipulate circumstances to best serve herself and her art. She took a calcu-lated risk in departing from the traditional concert format. However, she carried out her unorthodox artistic scheme with such dramatic and musical effectiveness that she won over even her most conservative critics. She sang the introductory recitative and then the aria, "Col sorriso d'innocenza", with commanding artistic resource. She had been in good voice all evening though her attack at the outset, probably because of tenseness, had the impact of a buzz saw. She had sung with a grasp of the Bellini style and with enormous conviction. At times the voice had been ingratiating; at others it had had an edge. Top notes had been a gamble—either shrill or brilliantly in focus. But now at the end she did not fail. This was Miss Callas living up to her reputation.14 A caustic barb aimed at Rudolf Bing opened Irving Kolodin's lengthy review of the 11 Pirata performance. Thanks to Rudolf Bing, New York music lovers have a clearer idea of the sumptuous talents of Lorenzo Bellini, and particularly of his 11 Pirata, than they have had in decades, or perhaps ever. This was not due to his initiative as producer, but to his banishment of Maria Callas from the Metropolitan, which enabled the American Opera Society to organize a performance around her in Carnegie Hall. Before launching into a detailed account of the Callas Imogene, Kolodin briefly described the circumstances which led up to the unusual concert event, and discussed the particulars of the staging, the trivial ity of the plot and the extreme difficulty of the vocal music. "And, of course, that brings us to the crux of the matter," wrote Kolodin, "for without, a genius of Miss Callas's special endowments and acquired 112 resources, 11 Pirata would founder on Imogene's first entrance." He continued his praise in the following manner: Her voice was hardly loose, at this point, but it was all fervor and solidity. Much could be made of the extremes of range with which she coped impressively well, but there was much more art and expression in her finely controlled delivery of the legato line and its embellishments, in her sense of the tragic accent appropriate to the words and their meanings, and the kind of spell she casts with a covered sound as against an open one. Throughout Actill and coming to a proper climax in the final "Mad Scene" (which she sang alone on a darkened stage in a spotlight) Miss Callas disposed vocal powers not previously heard at her command in New York. The s pleading "Tu m'aprasti in cor ferita" (with her husband, Ernesto) was an example of warmly colored cantabile singing (in Mozartian vein), which attested her ability to make an emotional appeal without bravura or other exhibitionistic devices. To labour the superb delivery of the "Mad Scene" is hardly necessary. For visual effect, Miss Callas deployed a wide stole of floor-length silk (a deep rasberry red in color) which served as scarf, drape, or cape to accent position and posture. Although Kolodin1s description and analysis of Callas' performance was primarily in vocal and musical rather than theatrical terms, he wrote in his introductory remarks of "the desirable interaction of theater"; and he was impressed by the handling of the red silk stole, her only stage "prop". Probably the most important aspect of his 11 Pirata review was that Kolodin availed himself of an opportunity to defend his own critical stance in regard to Miss Callas. His praise of her was aggressive and almost arrogant. It is probable that Kolodin felt emboldened to defend his personal convictions about Callas' abilities in the wake of 11. Pirata's unqualified musical and vocal success, a rarity in the soprano's increasingly erratic record. For those who contend that a critical "double stan-dard" is indulged by some who overlook blemishes in the art of Callas while rigorously demanding 113 perfection of others, it should be noted that her short-comings are measured in terms of the unconventional and$ the inaccessible, those of others in terms of the conven-tional and the easily accessible. . To achieve perfection in a part of this kind, a singer would have to be born with exceptional talents, reared in a school long since forgotten, and devote herself exclusively to such music. Miss Callas has the talent, but she has had to improvise the school, and of course has dabbled with a vast variety of other things from time to time. Sometimes what she pre-sents of a bygone era is seen dimly as through a glass, but -i iit3 it is to her enduring credit that she has enlarged prevail-ing ideas of what the female voice can do, and has bared the aspects of character, emotional projection and dramatic credibility long overshadowed by the blinding light of mere vocalism. Kolodin seemed to be saying that Callas' true genius lay in her will and her ability to sing life and depth into characters which had become trapped between the two dimensions of cardboard theatricality. He did not, however, ever refer specifically to her "acting" accomplishments as distinct from her skill as a singer. I I Pirata concert Turning to the New Yorker we find that the/'gticir.ed from Winthrop Sargeant one of his most interesting studies of Callas. So commenda-~ ble an example of Sargeant's urbane and scrupulously conscientious style is the review, that it deserves to be reprinted in full. However, in the interest of economy of space and, time onlyV excerpts; will be considered in our study. "The art. of Maria Meneghini Callas is, by the standards of today, a unique and unclassifiable vocal phenomenon." With this forthright statement of the problem at hand Sargeant opened his review. He then set forth his personal criteria for early nineteenth century bravura singing. This ideal, which I have seldom heard approached, is made up of many distinct elements, some of them relating to purely physical athletics, others to dramatic qualities of personality, and s t i l l others to stylistic taste and what is ordinarily referred to as musical intelligence. Miss Callas has an extraordinary number of these ideal 114 elements. He enlarged upon Callas' virtues in detail, then stated what he counted as her flaws. Where she falls short of the ideal is in certain lack of serenity (she seems involved in a fiercely competitive battle the moment she steps onto the stage) and in a lack of the sensuous purity of tone that one ordinarily expects --and often gets—from sopranos of far less arresting gifts. Yet, after listening to her repeatedly, I am becoming accustomed to these flaws. The last statement is of particular interest because it suggests a distinct middle period in the progression of Sargeant's critical appraisal of Callas. Though he had not yet become an enthusiast, the New Yorker critic frankly acknowledged the change inahis attitude since his initial reaction to Callas' first Metropolitan season. He elaborated further his new opinion. Purity of tone and ease of voice production are, after all, rather commonplace things, which can be found, coupled with greater or lesser artistry, all the way from the singing of Victoria dehlos Angeles (which comes to mind as a particularly lovely operatic example) down to the singing of Perry Como, at the other end of the artistic spectrum. And just as a practiced gourmet may prefer the bitter olives of Miss Callas' ancestral Greece to a chocolate milk shake, one can get used to, and even prize, the peculiar feline, and sometimes down-right abrasive, quality of her voice. The voice, reedy as it is, has a character all its own, and is certainly one of the most expressive intruments of its sort that I have ever come across. Sargeant went on to discuss what he termed Callas* "irrepressible theatrical instinct", describing the visual details we have previously seen outlined. He concluded his review with the following statements which include a bemused speculation on Callas' effect on other critics? She sang with all the qualities 1 have previously noted, and with an intensity of feeling that was bound to disarm all but the severest of her critics, building toward I the evening's climax with an assurance that was not 11.5 displeasing, even if it was somewhat aggresive. Now and then, there was a wobbly high note, or one that resembled a shout, but such things seem to be part of Hiss Callas' total personality, and I reflected again that the virtues of the total far outweigh an occasional flaw.10 Sargeant's article needs little discussion. It is an example of the exemplary journalistic criticism which we have previously found to be characteristic of the New Yorker critic. The review made the circumstances of the performance and the attitude of the reviewer perfectly apparent. It discussed the singer, the opera and the performance in some depth. Most importantly, it managed to maintain an air of objective tranquility about an artist who was, _as Sargeant himself pointed out, particularly notable for her contagious "lack of serenity". Unlike the Newsweek reviewer, Taubman or Kolodin, however, he did not alude to Miss Callas' acting abilities, nor did he speculate on the implications of the palpably dramatic impact of her performance, removed as it was from the full regalia of the theatre. It is interesting to observe that while Kolodin and Sargeant arrive at almost identical conclusions about the I_l Pirata performance, Kolodin gave impression of being "involved in a fiercely competitive battle" while formulating his final judgement. His aggressive stance rendered his review a forceful, yet somehow less convincing statement than Sargeant's unruffled discussion;ofi?the event. Callas' Success as a Concert Artist Somewhat surprisingly,Sin view of her reputation as an effective actress the concert format proved complimentary to Maria Callas. Perhaps the simplicity of the staging allowed her a certain beneficial relaxation of concentration on the multiple facets of her art. Whatever 116 the reason, in the critics' eyes Callas performed well both vocally and dramatically in each of the concert appearances recounted in this chapter. If anything, her histrionic talents seem to have been displayed even more effectively in this relatively non-theatrical genre of performance. Her acting seems to have been perceived by most critics as a more isolated ingredient of performance than many of her opera reviews imply. Perhaps these seemingly paradoxical observations made by the critics may be explained by the fact that the structure of a recital performance being sectional and incomplete encourages the spectator to see the facets of a performer's art more precisely and clearly. For instance, an aria becomes a "number" that must be performed and viewed for its own sake. The singer is obliged to create a mood and a character immediately without benefit of explanatory plot line, sets or costumes. The performer on neither the singing or acting and cannot slacken his or her concentration/ • :;» expect that the dramatic momentum will carry him over the operatic peaks or precipices. Conse-quently, concert singing must be of consistently high quality and attempts at characterization must be both potent and concise. Furthermore, the audience is less likely to be distracted from accurate observation and, thus, judgement by the trappings of the theatre. This theory is not meant, of course, to suggest that recitals and concerts are more artistically meritorious than opera; they are only simpler, more focused and, in some ways, more intense phenomena. We have seen so far in this chapter that analysis of the effective balance of-singing and acting in opera remains complex even when scope for the theatrical elements of performance is curtailed. The critics dealt with show remarkably little distinction in attitude or terminology when evaluating full scale operatic performance or when 117 analyzing a r e c i t a l or a recording. I f anything, some aspects of acting i n opera are enlarged upon more f u l l y and c l e a r l y than they have been i n opera reviews that have been surveyed i n previous chapters. We s h a l l now umcEM& away from the realm of performance altogether i n order to gain a more d i r e c t perspective on what Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas were attempting to convey through t h e i r a r t . Callas Master Classes One of the major events i n the operatic season of 1971-72 took place, not on the professional performance stage, but i n the lecture h a l l . Maria Callas made a public reappearance after, seven years of si l e n c e as the fr.'-iife teacher of a seri e s of master classes at the J u l l i a r d School of Music i n New York C i t y . The audience was heavily sprinkled with c e l e b r i t i e s of the operatic world and newspaper men who gave the event the same atten-t i o n accorded a Callas performance at the height of her career. The master series provides our study with an opportunity to compare what the per-former avowed to be attempting with what the c r i t i c perceived her as accomplishing through her a r t . Time Magazine featured an a r t i c l e which described several examples of her teaching techniques, a l l of which tackled, predictably enough»the dramatic aspects of singing. The j o u r n a l i s t summed up with a quotation from an interview with Callas h e r s e l f about her new profession. •I t r y to impart to the students things that came to me n a t u r a l l y , and that may not be natural to others. To be an opera singer you have to be an actor or an actress. You have to look well on stage and o f f . There i s no excuse for being 30 l b s . overweight. And you must have nerve. I t e l l my students to think. Before they sing a phrase they must have the expression--the thought behind the music--on t h e i r faces, so the public w i l l see i t f i r s t . I t e l l them to put more poetry into t h e i r voices, I try to teach them humbleness toward music. 1 118 The reviewer added, "The kind of humbleness, in other words that they can be proud o f . T h i s article had opened with a salute to Maria Callas as one of the great singer-actresses of the twentieth century; and it seems apparent by her own comments that whatever confusion she may have stirred in the minds of the American critics, Callas herself had a clear sense of herself as an actress. Writing for High Fidelity, Conrad L. Osborne revealed less about Callas' artistic priorities. His lengthy analysis of the Callas master classes was largely made up of complaints about the dubious virtues of public master classes in general and about the questionable quality of singing amongst young American students. However, Osborne praised the instructress without reservation, referring to her very presence as a Mhealth-giving Latin breeze [which] blew through the Julliard theater, bearing a message not of slovenly musicianship or provincial vulgarity (the underside of Italian influence, and far from Callas' realm), but of full-throated tone, freely shown emotion, and bounding theatrical rhythm." Of her value as a teacher he gave the following praise: As a teacher, Callas is as she was as a performer; dead serious, the complete professional. There was no hint of the ego trip, no Advice from On High baloney, not a trace of nega-tivism. There was not a single instance of sarcasm, under-cutting, or easy setting-up at the expense of the student. She was not playing or consciously performing; she was working, and her sense of dedication to and love of, everything involved in being a singer was inspiring. She approached the situation without constraints or artificialities; she was present not as a personality but as a person, a woman, magnetic and authori-tative, but entirely without affectation or assumed aura. This series of classes showed beyond any question that Maria Callas has something real to offer as a master coach. Genius can't be transferred, of course, and no amount of coaching will substitute for the sort of musical and dramatic instinct with which Callas can s t i l l illuminate—no bass has ever made of the recitative to "II lacerato spirito" quite what soprano Callas showed is in i t , and this is but one of many possible examples. But much of her perception of the emotional import of color, of the urgency of the rhythm, of the importance of 119 trained selectivity and taste, can indeed make a difference to students of musical talent and laryngeal health* In closing, Osborne reiterated some of his critisisms of the class format and of the choice of students, and he offered suggestions for improving the sessions. He concluded with a barb aimed at the professional opera world. "Better yet, Miss Callas might wander a block downtown and work with such Metropolitan and New York City Oper principals as may be smart enough to swallow some ego."18 Using a formula of journalism similar to Osborne's, Francis Rizzo, a New York stage director who was a frequent contributor to Opera News, produced a three page article about the Callas classes which reviewed the sessions in detail recounting everything from the many distinguished audience members to the "scarely contained motions of her [Callas'] head and hands" as she listens to a student singing Gilda from Verdi's Rigoletto." In his "Post-postscript" he offerred the following summation of Callas' pedagogical endeavours and of Callas herself.: "This is just one of the tricks of the trade, "Callas' cool disavowallof Oracular gifts seems apt enough when you consider the points she has raised from class to class. "I make no claim to any innovation; my way of work has been practiced intermittently throughout opera history." She has been sharing secrets--her own, and those she learned from others-piecemeal, at random, as the occasion warrants. Often they are in themselves unremarkable, even banal. These do's and don'ts include: lean on the consonants; remember, the end of a phrase is as important as the attack, and vibrancy must be maintained from start to finish; drama comes from calm and depth, not from pushing; carrying focused tone; give each note its ablsolute value; portamento is one thing, scooping quite another; be mindful of your colleagues and adjust yourself according to their strengths and weaknesses; in preparing for performance, work, work, work—then let your-self go. Hardly the stuff of revelation, but it is the ensemble of all these "little tricks," her heroic resolve toward perfection. That goal, she knows, cannot be reached: "and thank God, too—think how boring it would be!" But if she, through sheer strenght of concentration, can forge these "tricks" 120 into a single intity we know as Callas, can other follow her example? She will make a point, then: "Got it? Ehhh?" The student nods, but s t i l l one wonders. Yes, he's got that clearn, but for how long? And what about the rest of what she's said? For to her students, as to her public*1?* Callas offers nothing more or less than...herself. She _is the Callas Method, and these extraordinary sessions at Julliard are less a master class than some kind of pendant to her career as performer—they are an extension of the process of self-explication she pursued onstage for over three decades. After seven years of public silence, she has thrown open the doors of her studio to show that now, as then, she is far from ideal. "What do you do if you do not work?" She asked some years ago. "I work, therefore t am." In this Cartesian context, it scarcely matters if her stu-dents profit from such privileged encounters: she does, we do....If nothing else, her classes form a wealth of foot-notes to our understanding of the most acute and protean operatic sensibility of our time.*9 There are two points of particular interest in the preceeding three reviews. The first is the notable similarity between the principles of excellence which Callas attempted to convey to her students and the ex-amples of excellence which critics of the,past had attributed to her own performances. Callas, in other words, could hardly claim to have been misunderstood as an artist. She stressed musical accuracy and finesse, on the one hand, never letting incorrect pitches go by without comment and remaining unmoved by ringing high notes sung at the expense of the greater part of the score. On the onther hand, she xorned the tentative approach ("you are s t i l l too cautious on the high note. Whatever you have, out! Eh?"); and though she advocated tireless work s'he depreciated the notion of perfection reached. "To be an opera singer you must actor or actress," she said, yet her instruction always advanced through the singing to the character. In one of her few comments specific to acting she made this remark which is a primary rule amongst many 'istraight" acting teachers. "Don't move your hands so much. A movement must have meaning; otherwise, please just stand s t i l l . You can stand s t i l l and you can act, as long as the stillness has an intensity, an aliveness."2^ 121 Callas* was a dedicated follower of her own precepts; and critics, on the whole, recognized the value of her striving toward perfection, though they were often constrained to recognize her failures to achieve i t . The second point to be noted with regard to the master class reviews is the reverence with which Callas was treated after her seven year retirement. There was hardly a hint of negative criticism amongst the three articles we have surveyed. Even the exacting Mr. Osborne, who found much at fault with everything else about the classes, seemed to take the instructor's worth for granted. There is no trace of the old debate about whether she was awesome or awful. Her unique genius was regarded as a self-evident truth and unquestionable worthy of being passed down to posterity through the Julliard classes. It is interesting to consider that only two years later when Callas made a performance comeback in a concert tour with tenor Giuseppe Di Stef'ano, controversy amongst critics errupted once agian. True, the vocal problems which marred her celebrated last performances as Tosca were more than ever in evidence; but her efforts to overcome them the memory of which critics had during her nine silent years come to praise as intelligent and courageous provided in live performance a paradoxical challenge for her audience. It seemed that Maria Callas was mistress of enigmatic and uncomfortable artistry which could be admired unquestionably in repose, but which challenged and perplexed in action. Maria Callas as Director In 1973 Callas turned her hand to directing. This new facet of her operatic endeavour might have provided further illumination into her artistic ideals had the Turin production of Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani been more successful or had she continued with her directorial efforts. 122 As it happened the production was uninspiring hampered by lackluster conducting and an undistinguished cast. Directing opera is, at best an exacting artistic endeavour in its own right and perhaps with experience Miss Callas will become a stage director capable of investing in her cast some of the excitement she once brought to the operatic stage. The operatic world would then gain yet another perspective on the Callas art. Personal Interviews The most direct formoof information about Callas and Tebaldi are personal interviews, although everything the singers say about them-selves need not be accepted at face value. During the turbulent height of her career Callas' interviews mainly consisted of defense of her controversial conduct both on and off the stage ("I am not guilty of 21 all those Callas Scandals," Life, 1959 ) or elaborate apologies for her vocal problems (i'My lonely world--A woman looking for her voice," Life, 196422). However, seven years of retirement seemed to produce a more reflective mood in the soprano and in several interviews including a recorded one which companioned her album "La Divina," she made many revelatory comments regarding her artistic values. On the subject of music and bel canto she said, Opera is music. Music means solfeggio, one, and harmony, two. (I was veryjbad at harmony!) And you have to sing the bel canto method—any music, even Mahler. But bel canto is not just beautiful singing. It is a matter of expressing music in words. One can't sing beautifully a phrase which is terribly dramatic. You can't use a delicious sound for a strong emotion.23 On the subject of drama Callas offered the following thoughts: In opera, drama comes first, ahead of music. If you're angry, there can be no voice that is both beautiful and efficient. When you're angry you shriek. Otherwise it's 123 boring. Otherwise its just oratorio. Of course, it's ridiculous in opera to have to sing, "I> love you." Thee was I overcome this is to believe it when I sing. Then I persuade you. Callas' comments concurred exactly with the impression she had made on the critics at the apex of her 24 career.*H In 1971 Tebaldi granted a rare interview to Opera News entitled sign-ificantly enough, "Good Vocal Habits." In it she discussed two of her fav-orite roles Aida and Violetta, about which she spoke in affectionate terms, but without the passionate intensity and sense of indentification which Callas always suggested when discussing her favorite heroines. Tebaldi also disclosed her approach to staging. Whenever and whatever I sing, I try to make each new perfor-mance a dramatic creation in its own right. I avoid repeating the same gestures, the same motions, at every given moment. For one thing, such a routined procedure tends to make for a routine performance. In second place, one must always illow for changes (even emergencies) in the playing of the rest of the cast. If one is utterly habituated in addressing the tenor from the left, let us say, and suddenly he happens to turn right, one could easily get confused. It is good to avoid feeling dependent on any element but one's own thoughtful and concentrated working out of every stage situation as it occurs. Also, each singer should play to and with his colleagues. It ' is not enough to face one's partner, look at him, sing to him at the moment that the score demands i t , and then look away again and arrange one's costume. At every moment of playing, one should be completely in character, looking, talking, con-ducting oneself exactly as the personage would do. Though Tebaldi's comments reveal her conscientious nature, they do not suggest the intellectual force of a thorough artistic philosophy. The soprano was also quoted as affirming, "The inherent charm of good singing is beautiful quality. This what the singer works to build and to main-tain. Never should quality be sacrificed to range, to power, to any-thing at all." Tebaldi's attitude toward singing stood in diametric opposition to the performance doctrine embraced by Callas. The only unexpected facet of the Tebaldi interview was her advice concerning career strategy. 124 When it comes to actual stage work, I feel that it is wise not to begin with secondary roles, hoping thus to get at chance to grow into leading roles. This idea may be sound enough, but it is difficult to make it work! Too often the singer who begins with small roles stays with them for years; and once one has become typed as a secondary singer, it takes even harder work and greater determination to go higher.25 Tebaldi's attitude in this interview suggests that the ostensibly, shy, retiring singer was a shrewder and more calculating woman than was generally thought. Before moving on to conclude our study of the importance of acting in opera, it seems appropriate to quote Maria Callas onftthe subject of "Critics." In an interview for High Fidelity she said, "...I would like one thing, and I've always said i t . Critics should be permitted to watch all our rehearsals because then they would understand what our work is like. One cannot judge from one performance which may not be the best performance." She then added reflectively, "It is very difficult to sing."26 Conclusion 5 It has been stated repeatedly in this study that the relationship between singing and acting in opera is a complex and controversial issue. In examining closely these two aspects of operatic performance our anal-ysis cannot claim to have solved the riddle of how singing and acting most effectively interact. The debate is probably irreconcilable, and its complexity is doubtlessly an indication of the richness of the operatic experience. The artistry of Maria Callas and of Renata Tebaldi met with equal success in the opera world, though the sopranos represented polarities in the controversy of "acting" vs. "singing" in opera. If Callas' career seemed more spectacular at times, it may as well have been the result of her flamboyant personality as her histrionic pyrotechnics. 125 Certainly none of the many well-respected critics treated in these five chapters could be accused of ignorance about the complexities of operatic performance. In fact, the critics' very awareness of these i complexities caused their conclusions regarding Callas and Tebaldi as performers to be varied and wide ranging. B. H. Haggin clearly, pre-ferred beautiful singing to dramatic verisimilitude. However, he was quick to attack Tebaldi when her lack of stage awareness rendered her mannerisms ridiculous to his eyes, thus distracting him from the music. His retrospective summation of Callas on the other hand, was laudatory. Her vocal inconsistencies and occassional histrionic excesses faded in his memory, while her fine musicianship and strong character-izations remained vivid. In contrast to Haggin, Irving Kolodin valued drama over ear ravishing sound. Nevertheless, though he idolized her, he was not blind to Callas' limitations nor was he unmoved by Tebaldi's flawless vocalizing. Perhaps the only criticism that can be fairly leveled at the critics in general is that though theyususally made their conclusions clear enough, they often neglected to lead their readers through the process by which they reached these conclusions. Wiathrop Sargeant may be commended in this regard for unfailingly providing his readers with guide posts by which to follow his path of thought. His urbane and easy wit, in addition to his admirable conscientiousness which rendered his reviews models of accurate and lucid journalism, managed always to impart an air of rationality and calm to his writing. Such dispassionate objectivity was often lacking in many of his hotly argu-mentative and sometimes defensive colleagues. At this point, questions implied in Chapter I need to be answered. What is the purpose of a critic and have the journalists treated in 126 this study fulfilled their purpose despite their idiosycrasies? Re-ducing the answer to its lowest common denominator, perhaps it can be said that a critic is a distiller of data. The greater his knowledge on his subject, the more competence he displays in analysis, the higher his moral sense with regard to his critical obligations, the "purer" or closer to truth will be his conclusions. These conclusions may then indicate to the reader who has not been present at the performance being reviewed where he can best spend his time and his money. For the reader who has shared the experience, the critics opinions may clarify on the performance either by stating it more succinctly or by giving the reader something specific to react against. Occasionally, a reviewer may even change the reader's mind. The one available piece of data we have concerning reader reaction to critical reviews is in the form of a page of letters to the editor which were prompted by Herbert Weinstock's article "Maria, Renata, Zinka... and Leonora." Eight letters were printed and we must presume that they are a prepresentative sampling. Three letters agreed whole heartedly with Weinstock's evaluation of the three sopranos. C*I'm a poor one to be critical—but when I see in print my very own ideas expressed so faithfully as you—with fairness to all three ladies—I do want to say Thank you to You!") Four letters disagreed with varying degrees of virulency. (We have already dealt?, with the opinion/BonaId McDonald of the Catholic Messanger who faulted Weinstock's partisanship for Callas as "out of place" in such a distinguished publication as Saturday Review.) One letter proferred the suggestion that Callas may have been closer in style and character to Jeritza than to Garden or Chaliapin as Weinstock had suggested in his article.2? Significantly, not a single correspon-dent admitted to have undergone a change of heart due to Mr Weinstock's 127 analytical efforts. Only one correspondent treated the article as a discussion rather than as an arguement. This small sampling of reader reaction seems to indicate that for most people a critic functions merely as a sounding board for their opinions rather than as a pedagogue. Hows, ever, the conclusion that a critic has no effect on his public is contrary to the theory set forth in Chapter I that critics hold undue sway over their reader's opinions. Perhaps this discrepancy can be explained by postulating that,rather than being reprelative of the readership at large, those people who bother KwritiSg letters to the editor are, in fact, persons of unusually strong conviction. The silent majority of readers may well be more tractable. In dealing with that part of the public which is intellectually and emotionally involved in the subject under review, most critics are perhaps less persuasive than they might be. As has been previously mentioned most critics tended to dwell mainly on their conclusions giving only cursory attention to the process by which they reached them* Therefore, the reader had little choice but to agree or disagree. To regard the critic's ability to sway a reader's judgement as indicative of his success is a debatable and perhaps morally dangerous stance. However, Winthrop Sargeant would seem to have been the most persuasive opera critic we have dealt.: with. In carefully describing the critical process, Sargeant allowed his reader opportun-ities to agree or differ at several points before he himself pronounced final judgement. The reader, therefore, need not in the first place have felt contrained to whole-heartedly accept the critic's conclusion; and, in second place, because Sargeant did not agressively threaten the reader's ego with self-righteous declarations of truth, the reader might even have been more receptive to making small concessions. 128 Now perhaps is the moment at which to re-examine two statements quoted in Chapter I from "Critics and Criticism in the Mass Media" which pertain to critical function. The article said, "All publishers critics who more-or-less mirror their audience1s biases." The first sentence of this quotation suggests a publishing policy which is perhaps practical to an extent, but which could easily create a comfort-able, stagnant milieu for critic and reader. Any educational function a & critic may be expected to perform would be greatly reduced under such complacency. Unfortunately, as is suggested in the article as a whole, preservation of the status quo is the aim of the great majority of American journalists. However, as the first sentence of the quotation summarizes the norm, the second sentence prescribes the ideal of critical practice. There have been numerous examples in this study of reviewers resisting the majority. Very often they have pitted themselves against the applause of idolatrous, but indiscriminate audiences. Some-times they have set themselves against the consensus of other critics. On rare occas ions, a critic has even cut across his own grain and radically changed his estimationof&a singer. Thus, despite the generally complacent atmosphere of the world of journalism the critics whom we have been examining have been men of exceptional integrity measured by the standard advocated in "Critics and Criticism in the Mass Media." Let us turn from the arbiters of the issue of acting in opera-; back to the issue itself. In the course of this study the problem has been examined from many sides. We have looked at what both the singers and the critics have said concerning the issue. We have also looked at what they have implied through their performances and in their reviews. The question, "What is acting?", must finally be asked. 129 Although volumes have been written in answer to this very question, perhaps the simplest answer is thatxacting is the creation of convincing characters. There are two steps inherent in this process. The first is one of interpretation, that is deciding exactly who and what the character is. The second step is persuading the audience that the interpretor is the character. Mafia Callas was complete master of the first part of the acting process. She had a vivid and precise concept of each of her roles, and she executed her interpretations through a myriad of carefully conceived musical and theatrical details. There were times when she could not summon sifficient inner conviction to f u l f i l l the second part., of the process. When she did achieve i t , however, the effect was superb. Renata Tebaldi by contrast, was not noted for the insight or intellect of her interpretations. Nevertheless, she did manage to achieve a remarkable degree of credibility in her portrayals simply because her own personality, on the one hand, so artless and engaging, had a potency, on the other hand, which projected strongly across the footlights. Tebaldi ., , . .of operatic character in herself, , was, in other words, a species/ ana cis such was capable or giving her audience a warm, emotional experience even when her interpretation was n.ot meticulously accurate. Before concluding the discussion of acting in opera, it should be recalled that even on the legitimate stage character portrayal is accomplished largely through vocal skill. In classical Greek tragedy where masks and highly stylized movement are often used, one might rightfully claim that-reliance on purely vocal accomplishments is even greater than in opera. The story and the characaters in opera are created primarily by the music, and it is the correct interpretation and perfor-mance of the music which brings the drama to life. A singer may sing 1 3 0 beautifully, but give an ineffective interpretation of a character. On the other hand, the success of an operatic performance is often marred riot because a singer's inability to move well on stage may be regarded as a serious lapse in character interpretation, but because her awkwardness actually detracts from the beauty of her singing. It is too common a pleasantry to suggest that opera is best enjoyed with ones eyes shut. Callas, was unique in that she was able to commandeer all of her resources equally to the task of interpreting a role, and the result was a series of characterizations of unusual credibility. In opera, therefore, although we cannot expect equal accomplishment vocally and histrionically, the greatest performers in this medium do not fail to satisfy on both scores. Moreover, our research has proven that while opera critics, on the whole, demand much musical and little dramatic finesse in operatic performance, they are capable of profound appreciation of a singer's histrionic talent and will, with few exceptions, overlook many vocal flaws when compensatory abilities are manifest. The recipe for operatic perfection changes with every opera, every singer, every performance; and, whatever the individual convictions of artists, critics of spectators, the secret of operatic success remains a paradox, as well it should. All great works of art are cherished as mucbi-for their aspects of seamless beauty. It is in that sometimes infinitesimal space between imperfection and perfection that the poignancy of human existence lies. Perfection, to use Maria Callas' own description, would be so "boring." 131-1Irving Kolodin, "The Norma of Callas," Saturday Review 37 (November 13, 1954): 36. 2 Paul Hume, "Recordings," Saturday Review 36 (March 28, 1953): 52. 3 Paul Hume, "Tebaldi-Albanse and • Manon «" Saturday Review 38 (November 12, 1955): 34. 4 Robert Sabin, "Reanimated War Horse in Two Versions," Musical  America 73 (August 1953): 17. ^Robert Jacobson, "Recordings," Saturday Review 51 (April 27, 1968): 77. George Movshon^ /, "Callas and Tebaldi-Yesterday and Today," High  Fidelity 20 (January 1970): 89-09. 7Irving Kolodin, "Tebaldi in Recital, ' Forza' . Poggi, GitlisV Saturday Review 38 (December 31, 1955): 28. 8 "Concert Presented by 3 'Met1 Singers," New York Times 17 (February 28, 1955): 1. 9 Robert Sabin, "Recitals in New York—Renata Tebaldi...Soprano," Musical America 77.(March 1957): 41 10"The Sumptuous in Texas," Newsweek 50 (December 2, 1957): 72. ^Dorothea Bourne, "Debut Dallas," Theater Arts 42 (December 1957): 79. 12 Everett Helm, "Callas Takes Paris (and Vice Versa)," Saturday  Review 42 (January 17, 1959):88. 13"The Time Was 10:05," Newsweek 53 (February 9, 1959):85. 14 Howard Taubman, "Callas Idolized," New York ^Times 35 (January 28, 1959): 2. ^Irving Kolodin, "Callas in -ill Pirata --Strasfogel," Saturday Review 42 (February 14, 1959): 61. 16Winthrop Sargeant,%Gallas^' New Y6rker 34 (February 1959): 112-14. 17"Eutting in the Poetry," Time 99{(February 21, 1972): 67. 18 Conrad L. Osborne, "The Callas Master Classes," High Fidelity 22 (June 1972): MA12-13. ~ 19Francis Rizzo, "The Callas Class," Opera News 36 (April 15, 1972): 14-16. 20 "Putting in the Poetry," Time 99 (February 21, 1972): 67. 132 2*Maria Meneghini Callas, "IXam not guilty of all those Callas Scandals," Life 46 (April 20, 1959): 118-21+. 22 Peter Dragadze, "My Lonely World--A woman looking for her voice," Life 57 (October 30, 1964): 64. ^Dorle J. Soria, "Artist's Life," High Fidelity 21 (July 1971): MA4-5+. 24 Renata Tebaldi as told to R. Heylbut, "Good Vocal Habits," Etude 75 (May-June 1957): 13+. 2 5Ibid. 2 6Dorla J. Soria, "Artist' Life," High Fidelity 21 (July 1971): MA4-5+. 27 "Maria, Renata, and Zinka," Saturday Review 40 (May 25, 1957): 44. 133 BIBLIOGRAPHY Books Haggin, B.H. Music i n the Nation. New York: William SHoane Associates, Inc., 1970* p. v i i i . Haggin, B.H. Music Observed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964. p. 3 . Haggin, B.H. The New Listener's. Companion. New York: {Horizon Press, 19o77 p. 4 . Galatopoulos, Stelios. Callas: Prima Donna Assoluta. London: Allan, 1976. Kolodin, Irving. The Continuity of Music. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1969. p.p. v-vi . Kolodin, Irving. The Metropolitan Opera. 1883-1966: A Candid . History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1966. p. v i i i . feasants, Henry. The Great Singers: ...from the.Dawn of Opera,to Our Own Time. New York: Simon and Schulster, 1966. Periodicals "At La Scala, the Triumph of U.S.-Born Maria Callas." Newsweek. 4 5 : 5 8 - 6 2 , 10 Jan., 1955. "Beating The Met." Time. 5 6 : 4 4 , 9 Oct., 1950. Bing, Rudolf. "Bing Remembers Callas." Saturday Review. 5 5 : 3 7 , 7 Oct. 1972. Bourne, Dorothea. "Debut Dallas." Theater Arts, 4 2 : 7 9 , Dec, 1957. Callas, Maria. "Callas, Serafin, and the Art of Bel Canto." .Saturday .Review. 5 1 : 4 9 , Mar. 1952. Callas, Maria Meneghini. " I am not guilty of a l l those Callas scandals." L i f e . 46:118-21+, 20 Apr., 1964. Coleman, Emily. "Callas and Company for Chicago." Theater Arts. 3 9 : 6 8 , Jan., 1954. 134 "Concert Presented by 3; 'Met* Singers." New York Times. 17:1, 28 Feb. 1955. "Debut i n a Dither." Newsweek. 48:122, 12 Nov., 1956. Downes, Olin. "La Bohema at the Metropolitan." New York Times, 32:6, 4 Apr., 1955. Downes, Olin. "Renata Tebaldi Sings Desdemona'in Verdi's Otello." New York Times. 32:4, 6 Feb., 1955. Dragadze, Peter. "My Lonely World: A woman looking for her voice." L i f e . 57:64, 30 Oct., 1964. Evett, Robert. "The Cri t i c s and the Public." Atlantic,(Monthly). 26:117-23, Sept., 1970. Eyer, Ronald. " B r i l l i a n Debuts Mark Chicago Inaugural." Musical  America. 74:3, 15 Nov., 1954. Eyer, Ronald. "Callas Sings Norma as Metropolitan Opens Season." Musical.America. 76:13, 15 Nov., 1956. Eyer, Ronald. "Dramatic Tosca Opens Season At Metropolitan." Musical America. 78:3, 15 Nov. 1958. Eyer, Ronald. "Opera at the Metropolitan." Musical,. America. 75:238, 15 Feb., 1955. Eyer Ronald. "Records and Audio." Musical America; 74:16, 1 Jan., 1954. Ferris, John. "Angeli'csVoicei" Opera News. 29:27, 30 Jan., 1965. Fisher, Majorie. "Three Debuts Mark Opening Night Aida i n San Francisco." Musical America. 70:3, 1 Nov., 1950. Gelatt, Roland. "The Met's Top Three Sopranos." Reporter. 15:39-40, 29 Nov*, 1956. Genet. "Letter from Paris.*? New Yorker. 41:162 , 20 Mar., 1965. Haggin, B.H. "Music." Nation. 183:483, 1 Dec, 1956. Heintz, Thomas. "The Other Side: The Callas Tosca." Saturday  Review. 47:29 , 29'. Feb., 1964. Helm, Everett. "Callas Takes Paris (and Vica Versa)." Saturday Review, 42:88, 17 Jan., 1959. Heyworth, Peter. "Callas Triumphs i n London as Tosca." New York  Times. 30:3, 22 Jan., 1964. 135 Hinton, James J r . . "Norma;" New. York Times. 7 : 8 , 21 Nov., 1954. Hume, Paul. "Recordings." Saturday Review. 3 6 : £ 2 , 28 Mar., 1953. Hume, Paul. "Tebaldi-Albanese and Manon." Saturday Review. 33:34 12 Nov., 1955. Jacobson, Robert. "Recordings." Saturday. Review. 51 :57 , 27 Apr., 1968. Jenkins, Newell. "Milan and Florence Stage Premiers and Revivals." Musical America. 7 2 : 5 , Mar., 1952. Kolodin, Irving. "Aida. Tosca. Don Pasquale." Saturday Review. 3 5 : 5 6 , 25 Oct., 1952. Kolodin, Irving. "Callas Comes to the Met i n Norma." Saturday  Review. 3 9 : 3 8 , 10 Nov., 1956. Kolodin, Irving. "The Callas-Corelli-Gobbi Tosca." Saturday Review. 48:28, 3 Apr., 1965. Kolodin, Irving. "Callas i n I I Pirata-Strasfogel." Saturday^ Review. 4 2 : 6 1 , 14 February 1969. Kolodin, Irving. "Callas i n Lucia. Gobbi i n Rigoletto." Saturday  Review. 3 9 : 3 5 , 22 Dec, 1956. Kolodin, Irving. "Callas Norma i n Chicago." Saturday Review. 3 7 : 3 7 , 13 Nov., 1954. Kolodin, Irving. "Callas i n Tosca. S t e l l a , Borkh, Paray." ^Saturday  Review. 3 9 : 5 1 , 17 Nov., 1956. Kolodin, Irving. "Callas Remembers Bing: Which was the Prima Donna?" Saturday.Review. 5 5 : 4 1 , 14 Oct., 1972. Kolodin, Irving. "Music to My Ears." Saturday Review. 3 8 : 2 7 , 26 Mar., 1955. Kolodin, Irving. ''Music to My Ears." Saturday Review, 41:47,- 8 Nov., 1958. Kolodin, Irving. 'IThe Norma of Callas." Saturday Review. 2 4 , 4 l 6 . Kolodin, Irving. "Obituary." Saturday Review. 5 8 : 7 9 , 27 Nov., 1971. Kolodin, Irving. "Tebaldi and Kempe." Saturday Review. 3 8 : 2 9 , 12 Feb., 1955. Kolodiji, Irving. "Tebaldi i n Recital, Forza. Poggi, G i t l i s . " Saturday Review. 38:28, 31 Dec, 1955. 136 Lenoir, Jean-Pierre. "Callas as Tosca i n Paris." New York Times. 17:4t 20 Feb,, 1965. "Maria Callas Sings Tosca at the Met." New York Times, 2 4 : 5 , 16 Nov., 1965. "Maria, Renata,.and Zinka." Saturday Review. 40 :44, 25 May, 1957. "The Met Seasons Early Returns." Theater Arts. 41 :75, Nov. 1956. Moses, Robert. "Observations." National Review. 2 4 : 4 1 6 , 14 Apr., 1972. Movshon, George. "Callas and Tebaldi: Yesterday and Today." High Fidelty. 2 0 : 8 9 - 9 0 , Jan., 1970. "Music: Encore, Callas." Newsweek. 6 5 : 7 8 , 29 Mar., 1965. "Opera Is Grand Again i n Chicago." L i f e . 37:53-4, 15 Nov., 1954. "Opera: -Return of the Prodigal Daughter." Time. 85:37 , 26 Mar., 1965..' Osborne, Conrad. "The Callas Master Classes." High Fide l i t y , 22:MA12-13t June 1972. Panter—Doxgnes, Mollie. "Letter from London." New Yorker, 39:116 , . 15 Feb., 1965. "The Prima Donna." Time. 68:60-<2+, 29 Oct., 1956. Riaao, Francis, "The Callas Class." Opera News 3 6 : 1 4 - 6 , 15 Apr., 1972. Rorem, Ned. "C r i t i c s Criticized." Performing Arts. 2 4 1 : 9 0 - 2 , Aug., 1970. Rosenthal, Harold. "Eleven European Singers." Musical America, 71:19, Feb., 1951. Sabin, Robert. "Reanimated War Horse i n Two Versions," Musical A America. 73 :17 , Aug. 1953. Sabin, Robert. "Recitals i n New York-Renata/^ fe§prano." Musical  America. 7 7 : 4 1 , Mar., 1957. Sargeant, Winthrop. "Callas." New Yorker. 34:112-14, Feb., 1959. Sargeant, Winthrop. "Callasl" New Yorker. 41 :171 , 27 Mar, 1965. Sargeant, Winthrop. "Debut." New Yorker, 3 2 : 2 0 1 - 2 , 10 Nov., 1956. Sargeant, Winthrop. "Tosca to 3 T." New Yorker, 31:137 •17 Dec. 1955. 137 Sargeant, Winthrop. "Fates and Favourites." Hew Yorker. 35:55» 15 Dec. 1956. Sargeant, Winthrop. "Fine Points." New Yorker, 34:112, 8 Nov., 1958. Sargeant, Winthrop. "Musical Events." New Yorker, 31:110, 19 Mar., 1955. Sargeant, Winthrop. "A New Desdemona." New Yorker. 30:89, 12 Feb., 1955. "Scenes by Dramatic Diva." L i f e . 41:24-5, 12 Nov., 1956. Schonberg, Harold.C.,. "Opera: Maria Callas Returns to the Met i n Tosca." New York Times. 17:1, 20 Mar., 1965. "Sensation i n Chicago." Newsweek, 44:76, 15 Nov., 1954* "Sensation at La Scala." Time. 59:79, 21 Apr., 1952. Seroff, Victor. "Tebaldi up to Date." Saturday Review. 38:42, 26 Feb., 1955. Shayon, Robert Lewis. " C r i t i c s on the C r i t i c s . " Saturday-Review. 53:52-3, 21 Mar., 1970. "Soprano Triumphant." Time, 64:82, 15 Nov., 1954. Soria, Dorle J. "Artist's L i f e . " High Fidelity, 21:MA4-5+, July, 1971/ "The Sumptuous i n Texas." Newsweek. 50:72, 2 Dec, 1957. "Talk of the Town." New. Yorker. 34:31, 15 Mar., 1958. Taubman, Howard. "Callas Idolized." New York Times. 35:2, 28 Jan.:* 1959. ' Taubman, Howard. "Maria Callas Comes to the Met as Norma." New York Times, 43:1, 30 Oct., 1956. Taubman, Howard. "The Opera: Renata Tebaldi Returns, to the 'Met* i n Tosca." New York Times. 41:44, 28 Oct., 1958. Taubman, Howard. "Stunning Tosca." New, York Times. 34:2, 9 Dec, 1955. Tebaldi, Renata, as told to R. Heylbut. "Good Vocal Habits." Etude. 73:13+, May-June 1957. "The Time Was 10:05." Newsweek. 53:85, Feb., 1959. 138 "Trionfa a l i a Scala." Theater Arts, 4 4 : 5 0 , 3 Mar., i 9 6 0 . Weaver, William. "Just Plain Maria." Saturday Review. 3 9 : 3 6 - 7 , 2 ? Oct., 1956. Weinstock^Herbert. "Maria, Renata, Zinka...and Leonora." Saturday  Review. 4 0 : 5 6 - 7 , 13 Apr., 1957* Weinstock, Herbert. "Woman of the Week." Opera News, 2 9 : 2 7 , 20 Mar., 1965. 139 APPENDIX Baker* s^Biographical Dictionary of Musicians Completely revised by Nicolas Slominsky G. Schirmer, New Yoik^ 1958. Maria Callas :(real:.nametC.aIogeropdulo's') Soprano of Greek descent; b. N.Y., Dec. 3, 1923. At the age of 13 she went to Greece and studied at the Athens Conservatory; returned to New York in 1945* Made her professional debut at Verona in Gioconda (Aug. 3, 1947); on April 21, 1949, she.married Giovanni Battista Meneghini, an Italian industrialist. She continued to sing in Italy, appearing in Wagnerian roles, as well as in the lyrical repetory. She later appeared in London and Paris. She sang Norma at her American debut, which took place in Chicago (Nov. 1, 1954)* She made a spectacular fir s t appearance with the Metropolitan Opera in that role on Oct. 29, 1956, attended by an enormous flow of publicity and genuine enthu-siasm, particularly of her dramatic ability. See R. Neville, "Voice of an Angel" in Life (Oct. 31, 1955) 36 Ave, George Mandel, Paris, France, 3« Olin:Downes; oiln Eminent American music cri t i c , b. Evanston, 111., Jan. 27, 1886, d. New York, Aug. 22, 1955* He began study of music at an early-age, later student of Dr. L. Ketterborn (piano, music history, and analysis), Carl Boerman (piano), Homer Norris and Clifford Heilman (harmony), and J. P. Marshall (harmony, music appreciation). 1906-24 music critic of the Boston Post; in 1924 appointed music lecturer at Boston University under the auspices of Massachusetts Extension and Lowell Institute, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences (32-34)• Awarded Order of the Commander of the White Rose, Finland (37)s hon» Mus. Doc. Cincinnati Conservatory of music (39); Books: The Lure .of Music (1918);^  Symphonic Broadcasts (31); Symphonic Masterpieces T35)* He edited Selected Songs of Russian Composers ('22), contributed articles to Music. Quarterly, Music Review, and to many other music magazines, compiled and anno-tated ^^^Q^er^^^Ma^er^lec^f from Mozart to Prokofiev• ('52). A selection from his writings was published in 1957 under the t i t l e Olin Downes on Music. edited by his widow Irene Downes. Robert Evett American composer, b. Louland, Colorado, Nov. 30, 1922. He studied with Roy Harris in Colorado Springs, settled in Washington as a writer and composer. Works: cello concerto C'54), variations for clarinet and orchestra ('55), piano concerto ('57), Symphony No. 1 (•60), concerto for harpsichord ('55), viola sonata (*58)» piano quartet (*6l), sonata for oboe and harpsichord ('65), Symphony No. 2 "Billy Ascends" for voices and orchestra to the text by Melville (Washington, May 7| I965), "The Windhover", a concerto for bassoon and orchestra (5th Inter-American Music Festival), Washington, ' D. C., May 20, 1971), songs, piano pieces. 140 Everett Helm American composer and musicologist, b. Minneapolis, July 17 , 1913* In 1935 he graduated from Harvard, received the John Khowles Paine travelling fellowship and studied i n Europe with Malpiero and Vaughn Williamsj head of the music department at Western College, Ohio ( 1 9 4 3 - 4 4 ) , toured South America ( ' 4 4 - 4 6 ) , theater and music officer under Military Government i n Germany ( ' 4 8 - 5 0 ) . Works: concerto for string orchestra ( ' 5 0 ) , piano concerto (New York, A p r i l 2 4 , 1954) , Adam and Eve adaptation of the 12th century mystery play (Wvesbaden, Oct. 28, 1951, composer conducting), con-certo for 5 instruments, percussion and string orchestra (Donaues-chewgin, Oct. 1 0 , 1953), The Siege .of Tottenburfl. opera i n three acts commissioned by the Sudde;.«fc:r scher Rundfunk ( ' 5 6 ) "500 Dragon-Thalers," a Singspiel ( ' 5 6 ) , second piano concerto (Louisville, Feb. 2 5 , 1956), Woodwind quartet, string quartet, two piano sonatas, songs and choral pieces. He also edited the chansons (Northampton, Mass., 1942) and madrigals of Arcadett. Paul Hume American music c r i t i c , b. Chicago, 111., Dec. 13, 1915* Studied at the University of Chicago; took private lessons i n piano, organ and voice; was organist, choirmaster, and a baritone soloist at various churches i n Chicago and Washington; gave song recitals i n Boston and i n the Middle West; taught voice at Catholic University, Washington; i n 1956, became music editor and c r i t i c of the Wash- ington,- Post; instructor i n music history at Saturday Review (New York); active as lecturer and radio commentator on music; published Catholic Church Music (New York, 1956) and Our Music,.. Our Schools. and .Our, Culture 1 (NationalyCatholicsiEducation Association, 1957). Paul Hume leaped to national fame i n 1950 when President Truman, outraged by Hume's unenthusiastic review of Margaret Truman's song r e c i t a l , wrote him a personal letter threatening him with bodily injury. Hume sold the letter to a Connecticut industrialist for an undisclosed sum of money. Harold Rosenthal English music editor and c r i t i c , B. London, Sept. 3 0 , 1917* He received his B. A. degree from The University of London i n 1940, served i n the B r i t i s h Army during World War I I , i n 1950 launched, with the Earl of Harewood, the magazine Opera and became i t s editor i n 1953, also issued Op^ra. Annuals ('54-60). He was archivist of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden ( ' 5 0 - 5 6 ) , contributed to many Euro-pean and American music journals. His publications include: Sopranos of Today (London, 1956) , Two Centuries of Opera at Covent Garden (London, 1 9 5 6 ) , A Concise.Oxford Dictionary of Opera (with John Warrack, London, 1 9 6 4 ) . He also edited the Mapleson Memoires (London, I 9 6 5 ) . In 1964 he undertook a lecture tour of the U. S. Robert Sabin American music c r i t i c and editor, B. Rochester, N. Y., Feb. 2 1 , 1912, d. New York, May 19, 1969. He studied at the Eastman School of Music i n Rochester before going to New York, was editor of Musical America ( ' 4 5 - 5 0 ) , edited the 9th edition of Oscar Tompson's International  Encyclopedia of.Music on Musicians ( ' 6 4 ) 1 4 1 Winthrop Sargeant Studied composition (not violin ) with Albert Elkus i n San Francisco and with Karl Prohaska i n Vienna. His v i o l i n teachers were Arthur Argiewicz i n San Francisco and Lucien Capet i n Paris. He published a personal memoir In Spite.-of Myself (New York, 1970) i n which he recounts with astonishing candor a series of his sexual and musical frustrations. Harold C. Schonberg American Music C r i t i c , b. New York, Nov. 2 9 , 1915* He studied at Brooklyn college (AB 1937) and New York University (AM 1938). From 1942 to 1946 he was i n the army; then was on the staff of the New York Sun ('46-50). In 1950 appointed to the music staff of the New York Times1 also has contributed to various musical magazines. He published "Chamber and Solo Instrumental Music" i n the series The Guide toIong-Playing Records (New York, 1955), The. Great Pianists (New York, 1963), Lives-.of-the Great Composers "(New York, 1970). In 1971 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. Victor Seroff Writer on music, B. Batum, Caucasus, Oct. 14, 1902. Studied law at the University of T i f l i s , then piano with Moris Rosenthal i n Vienna and Theodore Szanto i n Paris. Eventually settled i n New York and became an American citi z e n . Books: Dmitri Shostakoyitch: The Life, and .Background..of a Soviet Composer (New York, 1943), The^Mighty Five. The Cradle""of Russian.-Music (New York, 1948), Rachmaninoff (New York, 19507T~French translations (Paris, 1953) Maurice Ravel (New York, 1953), Debussy. Musician.of France (New York, 1956), Cf M. R. Werner, To Whom It May Concern: The  Story of V. I. Seroff (New York. 19oT)". "" Howard Taubman American music c r i t i c , b. New York, July 4, 1907. He. studied at Cornell University, joined the staff of the New-York.Times i n 1930 and i n 1955 succeeded Olin Downes as chief music c r i t i c there. Books: Opera-Front and Back (New York, 1939), Music ,on My-Beat (New York, 1943). The Maestro.,The Life .of Arturo Toscanfoi" (New York, 1951), How to Build a Record"Library" (New York. 1953, new edition 1955), How to Bring" Your,,.Ghxld.Up;.-to Enjoy Music (Garden City, New York, 1958T Renata"Tebaldi Italian soprano; b. Langhirano, Parma, Feb. 1, 1922. She received her elementary musical education at home from father (a c e l l i s t ) and her mother (a singer). She studied with Passani i n Parma; then took a thorough course i n vocal training with Carmen Melis (I939r:'42). She made her operatic debut as Desdemona i n Trieste (1946); sang the same role at Covent Garden, London (1950), and at the Metropolitan Opera, N. Y. (Jan. 31, 1955); also appeared i n S. A. (1952). Her repertory includes Aida, Mme. Butterfly, Tosca, Marguerite, Violetta, etc. 142 Lester Trimble American composer, b. Bangor, Wise, Aug. 29, 1923. He studied composition with Nikolai Lopatnikoff at the Carnegie Institute of Technology i n Pittsburg and later took private lessons i n Paris with Darius Milhaud and Arthur Honegger; subsequently was appointed to the faculty of the University of Maryland, Works: two string quartets (1950-55)» symphony (1951) sextet for woodwinds, horn and piano ('52) v i o l i n concerto (*55)» "Closing Piece for Orchestra" (*57) Five Episodes for orchestra ('64), "In Praise of Diplomacy and Common Sense: for baritone, percussion, male speaking chorus and two speaking soloists, "Solo for a Virtuoso" for solo v i o l i n ('71) songs. Herbert Weinstock American vjriter on music, B. Milwaukee, Wise, Nov. 16, 1905. Educated i n his native town, later took courses at the University of Chicago. He published the following books: Tchaikovsky (1943, also published i n French, Portuguese, Spanish, and German), Handel (1946, also i n German), Chopin t-The Man -and His.. Music (1949, also i n German), Music as an Art (' 53). co-author with Wallace Brockway °^ Men.of .Music(*39Ti~ revised and enlarged 1950) and The Opera: AHistory.of .Its Creation-and .Performance ('41), Weinstock i s an executive editor for Alfred A. Knopf Inc., New York publishers: Donizetti., and -the World of Opera -Italy ..Paris and ViennajLn the  First Half of the.19th ^ Century (New York, 1963/, Rossini (New York, 1968) Vincenzo B e l l i n i : , His Life and Ogeras (New York, 1971). Who's Who i n Music. 1972 Burke's Peerage Ltd., London, England. Roland Gellat The-Fabulous Phonograph: ^from Edison to Stereo. New York, Appleton-Century, 1965 - , . Music Makers: Some Outstanding Musical Performers of Our, Day. New York, Da Caop Press, 1972. Thomas Heintz B. Berlin, 1921, e. Bryanston School, London University, M. Viva Eckert, s . l . , d. 2, ma: Writer and Audio Consultant, Conductor, Chamber Orchestra 1944-47, Publishing Editor C r i t i c t i l l 1955, London music correspondent Saturday Review (U. S.), Record and equipment reviews for Records, and Recordings, ss. Wagner, Toscan\«U Peter Heyworth. b. New York, 1921, e. Charter House and B a l l i o l College, Oxford prof; music c r i t i c , The Observer from 1955, Times Educational  Supplement 1952-55, Gramaphone c r i t i c , New .Statesman 1956-58. Robert Jacobson Reverberations. Interviews with the World's Leading Musicians, New York, VI. Morrow, 1974. Newell Jenkins Forward f i r s t Edition "Sammartini, Giovanni Battista, Magnificat for s o l i , chorus and orchestra," London, New York, Eulenburg Min-iature scores, 1957 Brunetti, Gaetano, Symphony No. 3 i n F major, New York, Schirmer, 1966. * ' 143 Irving Kolodin b. New York, 1908, e. public schools of Newark. N. J., Columbia University, Institute of Musical Art (New York) m. Irma Levy, prof: music c r i t i c , ma: member musical staff.New York Sun 1932-50. music c r i t i c , New,York.Sun 1945-50, music editor Saturday Review New York City from 1950, annotator New York Philharmonic Society 1952-58, publ: The -Musical-Life (1958), Story of,the.-Metropolitan  Opera (1953) Thei Composer, as^-Listner (1957) Guide to Re corded^ Music 7340, 46, 50, 54), ss. Recorded music, opera, some aspects of jazz, a. 25 West 45th St., New York pity. William Fense Weaver translated Puccini Librettos, i n New English Translations, Garden City, New York, Anchor Books, 1966. 


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items