Maria Callas: Born December 2, 1923

colorCallasMaria made her first professional appearance in von Suppe’s Boccacio in 1939 and sang the leading part in Tosca in 1942. After a series of disappointments and resenting envy by her colleagues, she returned to the American land of her birth. She lived there for two years (1945-1947), met the bass Nicola Rossi – Lemeni and through him came to know the tenor Giovanni Zenatello, artistic director of the Arena of Verona. Maria Kalogeropoulos left for Italy, met the industrialist Giovanni Batista Meneghini, married him, became Maria Callas and experienced her artistic life’s curtain raiser without suspecting that she was about to emerge as the lyric theatre’s most brilliant personality. Her first appearance in Italy as La Gioconda was directed by Tulio Serafin. Her acquaintance with him would lead her to new forms of expression.   http://www.hri.org/MFA/thesis/autumn97/callas.html

Callas’ ability to sing such a wide range of roles was one of the things that led to her meteoric rise. But criticcallasPiano Conrad Osborne says it also contained the seeds of her vocal decline. Callas’ voice was already starting to fail her by the time she was in her 40s — quite young for an opera singer. A number of factors, including a rapid loss of weight, may explain why. But Osborne, who also teaches voice, says Callas lacked the proper technique to sustain her ambitious repertoire.But for Callas fans like James Jorden, the diva more than made up for her vocal flaws with her talent for bringing the music to life. Her imperfections set her apart, and her ability to find the emotional meaning in a role was unsurpassed.  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123612228

callasPosingBy the time of her retirement, she had performed more than 40 different roles and had recorded more than 20 complete operas. Callas’s personality and philosophy of performance are powerfully depicted in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (first performed and published 1995), based on her classes at Juilliard.   http://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Callas

Lily Pons: Born on April 12, 1898

Few opera stars have led such an impressive career. For over a quarter of a century, her coloratura voice captured the stages of Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Mexico, and the United States. Like Mario Lanza and Luciano Pavarotti, she acted in second-rate films about opera stars, which were surprisingly well-attended. As a child, I recall her appearances on variety shows and heard her on the radio at least once a month. Today, there is a Lilypons, Maryland (and its main street, Lily Pons Rd.). Even a contemporary rock group has named itself after her. She was the Three Tenors of her day.

Her sweet soprano voice had an extremely high tessitura. It was said she could hold a high D for about a minute. The Metropolitan Opera revived roles especially for her, like Delibes’ Lakmé, Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Le Coq d’or.
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/s/sny60655a.php

In addition to her fabulous voice, Pons had another distinction — having a Maryland post office named for her. In 1932, the tiny Frederick County post office of Lilypons opened for business. “It was a dot on a map, because nobody has ever been quite sure what to call it. Lilypons, Md., was never a city, town or even a hamlet,” said The Evening Sun in 1986. “It is now what it has always been: one frame building surrounded by a small cluster of ponds nestled into a bdaycakepeaceful crook of the Monocacy River eight miles south of Frederick. Its only inhabitants have been rare goldfish and beautiful blooming waterlilies.” In 1963, during a period of cost cutting, the Postal Service discontinued the Lilypons postmark and combined its functions with the nearby Buckeystown post office. A plaque commemorating the tiny post office was mounted on the building in 1986.
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1997-10-05/features/1997278029_1_lily-pons-lilypons-frederick-county

April 9, 1939: Marian Anderson’s Easter Sunday Lincoln Memorial concert


Marian Anderson, contralto, was denied the right to perform at Constitution Hall by the DAR because of her color. Instead, and at the urging of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes permitted her to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939.

The message of Marian Anderson’s Lincoln Memorial concert~
http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2014/04/the-message-of-marian-andersons-lincoln-memorial-concert/
Remembering Marian Anderson~ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/remember-jan-june97-anderson_02-26/
Marian Anderson: A Life in Song~ http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/rbm/anderson/

Premiered March 11:

11th March 1867 – Theatre Imperial de l’Opera, France
Don Carlo started out life as a five-act opera that ran for approximately four hours. Based on Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien by Friedrich Spiller, this lengthy piece saw Verdi put the music to a French libretto by Camille du Lode and Joseph Mery. After the opera had been written, it was found to still be too long during the rehearsal period. Since the audience would need to leave before midnight, further cuts were made during this time in order to make sure that the opera finished before this deadline.
http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/homage-verdi-don-carlo

11th March 1851, La Fenice Opera House, Italy
One of the most acclaimed Verdi operas, Rigoletto at one point, was very much a case of “touch and go”. The three-act opera, based on Victor Hugo’s play “Le roi s’amuse”, came under close scrutiny of the Austrian censors. …However, by January 1851, a breakthrough was reached, albeit with a number of amendments to the original work. The original setting of the royal court of France was to be changed either to a duchy of France or Italy, while many of the characters were to be renamed, notably the jester, who went from Triboulet to Rigoletto. With the deadline for the premiere looming, Verdi managed to complete the work by early February, leaving a month to spare.
http://www.italymagazine.com/featured-story/homage-verdi-rigoletto

Dame Eva Turner: Born March 10, 1892

A dramatic soprano with a voice of mammoth proportions, Eva Turner, though scarcely neglected in her native country, enjoyed many of her greatest successes abroad. Most closely identified with the title role in Turandot (which she first sang in Brescia only a month after its premiere), she brought to all of her roles a voice of both enormous size and great cutting power, topped with an unflagging ease in the highest register. While not always an illuminating actress, she approached all of her work with seriousness of purpose, thorough integrity and no small measure of excitement.
Biography and interview here~ http://www.bruceduffie.com/evaturner.html

Enrico Caruso: Born February 25, 1873

sketching.jpg
Enrico Caruso drawing caricature sketches in booth at charity fair in Southampton, L.I.~
https://www.loc.gov/item/2005680287/

Caruso was a compulsive caricaturist who made spontaneous and witty sketches of colleagues and strangers wherever he went. His doodles often captured a candid likeness of the person, but they were never cruel.

Although he was proud of his sketches, he turned down offers to draw professionally. However, he did regularly contribute to an Italian-American newspaper called La Follia di New York, from which a book of drawings was eventually produced. Nowadays his cartoons are extremely collectable. One firm even reproduced one of his self caricatures as a powder compact.
http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/e/enrico-caruso/

Drawings by Enrico Caruso~ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Drawings_by_Enrico_Caruso

Renata Scotto: Born February 24, 1934

[Renata Scotto] began vocal studies when she was 14, and moved to Milan when she was 16. In 1952, when she was just 19, she made her debut as Violetta (La traviata) at the Teatro Nuovo, followed by her La Scala debut as Walter in La Wally. However, only a few years later she had a vocal crisis, losing most of her upper range; she now credits her recovery to Alfredo Kraus (himself renowned for a solid technique and vocal longevity), who introducing her to his teacher, Mercedes Llopart. After completely restudying her technique, she re-began her career as a coloratura, making her London debut at the Stoll Theater as Adina in L’elisir d’amore. She returned to La Scala, and in 1957, replaced Maria Callas (whom she had greatly admired) as Amina in La Sonnambula.
– See more at:
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/renata-scotto-mn0000681028/biography
http://musicalworld.com/artists/renata-scotto/biography.html