“Listen to me, everyone speak about Callas. But I know Callas. I know Callas before she was Callas.
She was fat and she had this vociaccia — you know what a vociaccia is? You go kill a cat and record its scream. She had this bad skin. And she had this rich husband. We laugh at her, you know that?
And then, I sat in on a rehearsal with Maestro Serafin. You know, it was Parsifal and I was supposed to see if I do one of the flowers. I didn’t. And she sing that music. In Italian of course. And he tell her this and he tell her that and little by little this voice had all the nature in it — the forest and the magic castle and hatred that is love. And little by little she not fat with bad skin and rich-husband-asleep-in-the-corner; she witch who burn you by standing there.
Maestro Serafin he say to me afterwards, you know now something about Parsifal. I say, “No, Maestro, I know much more. I know how to study. And I know that we are more than voices. We are spirit, we are god when we sing, if we mean it.”
Oh yes, they will go on about Tebaldi this and Freni that. Beautiful, beautiful voices, amazing. They work hard. They sincere. They suffer. They more talented than Maria, sure. But she was the genius. Genius come from genio — spirit. And that make her more than all of us. So I learn from that. Don’t let them take from you because you are something they don’t expect. Work and fight and work and give, and maybe once in a while you are good.”
Renata Scotto in recorded conversation with writer, vocal coach, and music critic Albert Innaurato. More quotes about Callas on Wikiquote.
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.