Warner Classics released a new Maria Callas LP today. LP? Yes LP!
Although the Long Playing disc has had a niche market after the introduction of CDs in the pop music field, especially for indie music, or for DJs who specialize in that backwards scraping sound as they manipulate the turntable with their hands, it is extremely rare in the classical field. However, being that the remastering of the entire Callas catalogue was such an important undertaking, Warner’s has issued a greatest hits disc – the company’s first vinyl release in 15 years – as a limited-edition single-LP, with a luxurious 180 gram weight.
As it spins at 33 1⁄3 rpm (that’s “revolutions per minute” for those who are not indie fans, DJs or were born after 1990) you can hear, unsurprisingly, O Mio Babbino Caro, Casta Diva, Vissi d’arte and so on.
All the recordings have been remastered from the original master tapes by engineers from London’s Abbey Road Studios for the deluxe box set, and transferred to the black music disc which, of course, has a side A and a side B, unlike its little silver cousin. The format also has more space for the graphics, which was my personal problem with CDs, when instead of those glamorous booklets with the box set or, like this Callas disc, a cover that opens like a book, there were fiddly Lilliputian affairs, sometimes squeezed into plastic tramlines under the transparent jewel case to make it double as a cover… and guaranteed to rip it immediately.
BIZET – Carmen; Habanera
BELLINI – Norma; Casta Diva
PUCCINI – Gianni Schicchi; O mio babbino caro
CATALANI – La Wally; Ebben? Ne andrò lontana
VERDI – La traviata; Ah, fors’è lui
VERDI – La traviata; Sempre libera
PUCCINI – Tosca; Vissi d’arte
PUCCINI – Madama Butterfly; Un bel dì vedremo
GIORDANO – Andrea Chénier; La mamma morta
PUCCINI – La bohème; Donde lieta uscì
ROSSINI – Il barbiere di Siviglia; Una voce poco fa
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.