In two weeks' time EMI will launch a new CD by Angela Gheorghiu: “Homage To Maria Callas – Favourite Opera Arias”
In 2007 the soprano made her début at Milan's La Scala. Her first steps onto the legendary stage was with a recital programme, subsequently released as a CD. In an interview with Il Corriere della Sera beforehand she said of Callas “Io non ho mai sentito la sua ombra.” (literally, “I've never felt her shadow”) which of course put La Scala's famous loggionisti against her feeling that she was belittling the importance of La Divina. Indicating that maybe her fiery personality is a cover for a vulnerable core, her legs visibly shook for the first twenty minutes or so of her recital, and her voice was timid, as though afraid to come out.
Now with this CD she risks the ire of Callas fans once again.
After the launch party at The Ivy, Michael White was not impressed. In his Telegraph blog he writes,
I suppose you'd call a tribute disc to Maria Callas except that Callas only seems to be involved to give endorsement to La Gheorghiu.
Most depressing was the rictus-grinning phoniness of the whole thing, as EMI staff fawned over the diva, choked with laughter at her least remarkable remarks, and smothered her with flattery so absurd she should have been offended by it – as any self-respecting artist of integrity could only be. It felt like people humouring a madwoman.
Madwoman? Not a good sign. White finishes with,
That Gheorghiu is a singer of outstanding qualities I don't dispute. But Callas she is not. And there will be a lot Callas fans who don't take the comparison too kindly.
I bet they will.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.