Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Perfect Storm, Dept.

Maria Callas, "Un Voce Poco Fa, Hamburg, May 1959

When people ask you "What's the big deal about Maria Callas?", you can just dial up this live performance and hit 'play.'

From 1959, the year of Onassis, and with him very much front of mind--their lives, once only tangential, now, mostly by design, were about to collide--she brings intensity, a houseful of charisma and the last of her good voice to a recital in Hamburg.

For many years, there has been discussion of the role of Callas' sudden weight loss in the ultimate deterioration of her voice.  How she could no longer support the huge voice she had with a much smaller frame.  Watching this performance, I saw Maria Callas in her designer ensemble looking beautiful and projecting beauty as being strongly informed by the absence of the negative body self-image she had when she was heavier.  One may wish that she had accepted herself at her earlier weight rather than attempt and achieve such a dramatic change.

That noted, I would think that there would be a profoundly satisfying energy to achieving one's society's ideals of beauty--and even helping to define them--for most people.  Take, then, an intense, driven, hugely talented and intelligent woman who had suffered from being the "ugly ducking", to use her words, in the shadow of her more conventionally and perennially beautiful sister for all of her youth and adolescence.  Post-Weight Loss, she could go toe to toe with Grace Kelly in the looks and glamour departments and did.  For good or ill, I don't think the Maria Callas we know would have been a non-weight loss Maria Callas.

Una voce poco fa
qui nel cor mi risuono
il mio cor ferito e' gia
e Lindor fu che il piago.
Si', Lindoro mio sara
lo giurai, la vincero
Il tutor ricusera
io l'ingegno aguzzero
Alla fin s'acchetera
e contenta io restero
Si', Lindoro mio sara
lo giurai, la vincero

Io sono docile,
son rispettosa
sono obbediente,
dolce, amorosa
mi lascio reggere,
mi fo guidar.
Ma se mi toccano dov'e'
il mio debole
saro' una vipera
e cento trappole
prima di cedere faro' giocar,etc.

A voice a while back
echoes here in my heart;
already my heart has been pierced
and Lindoro inflicted the wound.
Yes, Lindoro shall be mine;
I swear it, I will win.
My guardian will refuse me;
I shall sharpen all my wits.
In the end he will be calmed
and I shall rest content...
Yes, Lindoro shall be mine;
I swear it, I will win.

I am docile,
I'm respectful,
I'm obedient,
gentle, loving;
I let myself be ruled,
I let myself be guided.
But if they touch me
on my weak spot,
I'll be a viper
and a hundred tricks
I'll play before I yield,etc

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