Look back as you go forward


LOOK at this room….. and the talent within it.

Can you imagine?

Long before turnstiles at a movie theater were part of opera, here we have in one room, Maria Callas and Luchino Visconti with Lenny Berstein photographed in a break during a rehearsal.

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during this exchange of ideas !!

These next photos are a study in how true acting is not only in dashing around on stage with directors gimmicks and distracting the viewers, however fun it can be, but in the total concentration of an artist and their faith in the music and the message of the composer…….

Maria Callas as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata, receiving the doctor to hear about her “life” and “hope” as she struggles against the TB that is killing her, all the while fully aware she is awaiting death’s arrival with such sweetness and perfect vulnerability…… nobile.

Here too a distraught Violetta perfectly etched on the magnificent face of the amazing Renata Tebaldi……. just after the letter reading, “E’ tardi…..!!!!!”

Our eyes would be no where else and our hearts would break at the destruction of this Lucia’s mental and emotional health…… Callas as Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor…


Joan Sutherland clings to reality with a tenuous thread as Lucia in the famous Mad Scene, where just having killed her husband she is greeting her “wedding” guests covered in his blood.


and years before her the legendary Galli-Curci not the most sane of brides in the same unending madness and fragility. Amazing horror and true madness.


The sense of radiance and truthful carriage onstage…… who could argue with this?

Franco Corelli and Renata Tebaldi in “Adriana Lecouvreur”……

Tebaldi with great vocal mentor and conductor genius Tullio Serafin prepping one of her greatest roles, Mimi in Puccini’s “La Boheme”.


The great voice and emotion of Zinka Milanov with Leonard Warren.


No words are needed….. Medea, Callas.

Or her great friend and colleague. Titto Gobbi…… in his Rigoletto played as a living gargoyle.

Raw passion in a rare display from Netrebko and Kaufman, in Traviata.


I so wish recordings were still being explored these days. Look at these fabulous shots from recording sessions with cat glasses diva, Renata Tebaldi and Carlo Bergonzi and Herbert Von Karajan.


Pretre’ and Callas and Gobbi and Bergonzi…….


There lurks in every great opera house “spiriti” of the greats and they watch and listen and wait for one of “their own” to show up and continue the great line of traditions. The very best and creative and fully prepared do not fear them, but welcome them knowing they have set a standard, and every young singer should be inspired by their discipline and strength and success.

Before every performance I have ever given I go and salute them and ask their guidance and support, as I try to serve the music and God through that music. Pretty heady stuff. Otherwise, it’s all just notes.



Do not be afraid ever to look back as you go forward.


The composer’s blue print of his soul are in the pages of every musical score. Embedded within a little tiny time capsule, written in a different time, with different musical ways and theatrical truths.

Callas, Tebaldi and all the greats faced the same challenges we face today, yet they never apologized for their art, or their music or the task at hand. We sing on in hopes the public will be enchanted still by the glories of this music, facing a modern audience that stills knows what it means to serve your country,falling in love with someone you cannot have, getting married, cheat or betray someone, demand or hope for revenge. Sacrifice and family, doing your best to survive. This is all in the music, then, now, and forever.

May WE be worthy of it’s greatness.


Joan Sutherland at her debut at the Old Met in Lucia.

~ by aprilemillo on April 7, 2009.

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