This week on the Lyric Stage we have highlights from Maria Callas' Carmen. Callas never performed Carmen on stage, but many consider her 1964 recording of Bizet's opera among the best recorded versions of Carmen. To paraphrase one critic, "Callas isn't Carmen, Carmen is Callas."
Few opera singers are as fascinating as Maria Callas. She died in 1977 but her recordings still sell well, and she is part of any discussion about great opera singers She was technically flawed certainly, and had a premature vocal decline, but no singer became a character as well as she did as this Carmen from late in her career shows. No singer has so compellingly defined every aspect of what a diva is.
This recording has the added bonus of an excellent cast and a very French, idiomatic approach by conductor Georges Pretre. Nicolai Gedda, Robert Massard and Andrea Guiot complete the main cast of singers, and Pretre conducts the Rene Duclos chorus and the Orchestra of the National theater of Paris.