The Callas Imprint: A Centennial Biography available now

In December 2023 Sophia Lambton’s The Callas Imprint: A Centennial Biography finally came out

Twelve years in the making, reaps 3395 sources spanning 80 years across twenty-one countries to swivel readers through the singer’s on- and offstage scenes — escorting them through the confounding double life of all performers.

Christophe Rizoud of Forum Opéra writes of the work, ‘A triple decryption … biographical, artistic and psychological … This work is not just one more book about this overexposed subject; quite the opposite — it finally completes our understanding.’ More reviews here.

In a world of Callas buzz where books and documentaries masquerade as ‘new’ but turn out to be stocked with sources findable on Google, The Callas Imprint offers readers never-before-seen correspondence:

Letters between Callas and her manager Sander Gorlinsky, together with the latter’s notes on their phone conversations, unveil the soprano’s inner workings from 1953 until her death. These cast new light on roles Callas considered and the reasons she decided against undertaking them. First and foremost, it lays to rest the oft-touted depiction of the singer as a flake who turned her back on art for love and luxury — presenting a discerning, self-reflective character.

Letters from, to and about Callas and her fellow operatic contributors — including directors Luchino Visconti and Alexis Minotis, EMI’s Peter Andry, Columbia Artists’ Frederick C. Schang, Dallas Civic Opera founder Lawrence Kelly, vocal coach Alberta Masiello, as well as music critics Harold Rosenthal, Irving Kolodin, Bernard Gavoty, Herbert Weinstock, Emily Coleman and others outline the soprano’s meditations about roles, performances, recordings and her life.

Letters between Callas and her legal separation lawyer, Augusto Caldi-Scalcini expose the lies told by her husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini: sexist tales that constitute the Callas-Onassis narrative taken as gospel to this day.

In addition to the above the book contains:

New interviews with friends of Callas who have either rarely spoken or, according to them, been falsely quoted. Among them are late vocal coach Janine Reiss, cousins Mary Annexy and Ninon Dimitriadou-Kambouri, assistant director Fabrizio Melano, friend and step-niece of Aristotle Onassis Marilena Patronicolas, Callas’s voice student Marko Lámpas and many more.

Microscopic scrutiny of facets of the Callas art that remain unexplored or dryly analysed. These include vocal manipulation to create character; her preferences for operatic cuts (such as the long, debatable excisions in Don Carlos); her studies of sopranos Rosa Ponselle, Giuditta Pasta and Maria Malibran; a vast authorial contribution to the opera stage that impacted not only her performance but stylistic choices of her colleagues — such as Franco Corelli, Tito Gobbi, Teresa Berganza and more — as well as set design, costume and make-up variants.

The benefits of multilingualism. Most Callas treatises are grounded in their land of origin. My knowledge of Italian, French, Russian, German and Ancient Greek have helped me find a global panoply of primary and secondary sources.

For more about Sophia Lambton’s The Callas Imprint: A Centennial Biography and how to buy the book CLICK HERE.

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