Archives For Maria Callas

Women In Music

January 29, 2018 — 62 Comments

To add to existing knowledge of women’s work in music in history I decided back in September 2017 to take a programme in my Master’s studies called ‘Women in Music’.  Women are stepping forward more into the spotlight and news, just now I read that the American Conductor Marin Alsop has been appointed the first female artistic director of the Vienna orchestra.  I just hope that at some point in the future this isn’t front page news, why is it so rare?  She was also the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms and the first woman to lead a major US orchestra, let’s hope she’s not the only woman able to break through.  Read this article:

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It’s quite shocking that a female harpist spent 26 years in the orchestra but was never acknowledged and only her hands were shown on tv broadcasts.

I was assigned a professional female mentor after submitting a list of people I would like to work with to get a better understanding of what a professional career in Music looks like and to gain an awareness of issues and experiences female musical professionals may encounter whilst studying an introduction to current gender theory.  This project will be coming to fruition over the next two months with a project I’m submitting mid-February and a performance lecture-recital I will be presenting at the RCM International Women’s Day event on 8th March 2018 based on one female figure breaking through a glass ceiling in music – I chose Kaija Saariaho, a Finnish composer based in Paris, France.

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I’m hoping that I can share my slides with you all after the event and if you’re in London there are two opportunities that you can come to watch for yourself as part of this project I will also be performing at the Royal Academy of Arts the following day, which I am really excited about, as you know I like to see art and music combined.

During my research I studied female composers through the ages one thing stood out to me and that was I don’t sing any of their music in all of my years training their songs did not form part of the exam syllabus or the A-level music I studied, then I looked at the wider music industry as women forged ahead in some areas more than others.  I tried to find parallels and I asked my family and friends back at home who their top female musicians were and when, how and what influences did they use to break through in their genre: from Dolly Parton (unique, trailblazer), Madonna (revolutionary), Kate Bush (ahead of her time, original, innovative, arti), to Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross and current big-name stars like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Katie Perry.

Then I wondered do people outside of the classical music world know the celebrated female stars of opera – if so why did Maria Callas have to be played by Meryl Streep when there are so many superb actress/singers in the world of Modern Opera such as: Renee Fleming, Anna Netrebko, Angela Gheorghiu, Joyce DiDonato, Jessye Norman when you google search ‘top female British Opera singers’ we get Lesley Garrett and Sarah Brightman followed by Dame Janet Baker, what do you think?  Who would you put at the top of a list of female singers still alive today that could be counted as role models for today’s students?  Can you tell me who your choice of a female musician that has broken through and is a household name in the Classical music world?

Learning From The Past

March 16, 2014 — 36 Comments

This week I have been researching, planning exploring music history.  How different composers taught each other, and people learnt from other people’s work’s – pastiche composition.

So as I was digging around I thought why not do some more research into one of the singers I am inspired by. What can I learn from watching their performances or listening to them singing?

So here is a small insight into part of my project, it is a work in progress and one that you may be able to help me with 🙂

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Maria Callas

Maria Callas 

Maria was born in New York City on December 2nd, 1922 and was christened by her Greek parents Anna Maria Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou, her father in an attempt to make their surname more manageable later shortened it to “Callas”.

Her mother and father split up when she was 14 and along with her sister and mother they moved back to Greece where she continued her education.

After initially failing to gain entry to the prestigious Athens Conservatoire she was accepted by the Greek National Conservatoire and studied under Maria Trivella. During her time there, Maria was considered a hard working and dedicated student, completely uncompromising in her approach to her studies. She progressed quickly and was soon
tackling arias from some of the most challenging international operas.

After three years Maria auditioned again for the Athens Conservatoire and was taken on to study under Elvira de Hidalgo. Callas threw herself into her studies where she was often the first pupil through the doors in the morning and the last to leave at night. She loved her time studying and believed no matter how good you were you could always learn something new from those around you.

What do I find inspiring about Maria Callas ?

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I love Callas’ energy on stage and in her recordings. Every note holds a significant importance giving her the most beautiful and sincere legato line. She uses a huge range of vocal colours from sensitive sighing to alluring and sexually-heated brash low notes.

Her overall tone is beautiful and warm, and sits easily on the listener’s ear similar to a mother’s lullaby to her baby.

She is like a fire-cracker on stage when she performs, exploding with energy and spontaneous acting ideas all of which make her so exciting to watch. I hope to take this aspect of her performance into my own.

I said previously in another blog post that one of her sayings was to prepare until in performance you can forget your techniques and improvise. This is a very exciting concept as one of my aims when performing is to make it seem like each thought and action has only just entered my head.

I would have loved to have seen her live, apparently her voice had a deep yet piercing resonance that cut through the air like a hot knife in butter.

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Plus she always looked so glamorous, dripping in jewellery and her hair pristine. It must have been fabulous dressing up for the concerts. I think I will have to stick to the crystal at the minute and use my imagination.:)

Here is Callas singing Habanera from Carmen in Covent Garden

I would love to know if you have ever watched or listened to any of Maria Callas’s performances and if so what stood out to you about her performances?  What do you think made her such a fabulous and engaging performer ?