The early decades of the twentieth century saw Italian opera singers gradually lose the role of co-author they had once enjoyed and evolve into mere performers. The appearance of soprano Maria Callas (1923–1977) provoked a singing revolution which would contribute to restoring the subjectivity of the performance and establishing the centrality of the female voice in musical culture. Almost half a century after her death, she remains the most famous and quoted opera singer of all time, whose reputation has reached well beyond the narrow borders of the musical world. Her almost unconscious action relied on some basic features: – the restoration of lost performing practices, not only forgotten scores, but also techniques and styles related to them; – the legitimacy of a voice that moved away from the common euphony and timbre homogeneity pursued by modern vocal teaching; – the replacement of the concept of “beautiful sound” with that of “dramatically appropriate sound”; – the experimentation of unorthodox emission modes, anticipating some features of the Neue Musik and the so-called New Vocality of the following decades. If a modernisation and re-evaluation of singing and acting as a whole in the world of opera is today so evident, much of the credit is indeed due to her influence.

Maria Callas and the recovery of an operatic vocal subjectivity

Marco Beghelli
2021

Abstract

The early decades of the twentieth century saw Italian opera singers gradually lose the role of co-author they had once enjoyed and evolve into mere performers. The appearance of soprano Maria Callas (1923–1977) provoked a singing revolution which would contribute to restoring the subjectivity of the performance and establishing the centrality of the female voice in musical culture. Almost half a century after her death, she remains the most famous and quoted opera singer of all time, whose reputation has reached well beyond the narrow borders of the musical world. Her almost unconscious action relied on some basic features: – the restoration of lost performing practices, not only forgotten scores, but also techniques and styles related to them; – the legitimacy of a voice that moved away from the common euphony and timbre homogeneity pursued by modern vocal teaching; – the replacement of the concept of “beautiful sound” with that of “dramatically appropriate sound”; – the experimentation of unorthodox emission modes, anticipating some features of the Neue Musik and the so-called New Vocality of the following decades. If a modernisation and re-evaluation of singing and acting as a whole in the world of opera is today so evident, much of the credit is indeed due to her influence.
2021
The female voice in the twentieth century: Material, symbolic and aesthetic dimensions
43
60
Marco Beghelli
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/853392
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