Talk:Maria Callas/Archive 2

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Archive 1 | Archive 2 | Archive 3

Voice type

The term 'coloratura' soprano is popular, however it is not a legitimate voice type classification. Every voice type can do coloratura. Though lyric and dramatic sopranos often get the roles where it is used, lyric especially, to actually refer to the voice type as coloratura is incorrect. Perhaps it should be noted that the popular phrase is incorrect?

I'm afraid your assertion is completely false. The term "coloratura soprano" is a real voice type and has been in use since the early 19th century. The word was first coined during the rise of the bel canto method of singing. The term is also used in the German fach system which many opera houses use to classify singers. You are correct that the term coloratura refers to a particular kind of vocal agility and that all voices to some degree are capable of coloratura (although dramatic voices tend to be limmited in coloratura facility). However, a "coloratura soprano" is distinguished not just by the ability to sing difficult coloratura passages but also an unusually high range and vocal tessitura that other kinds of sopranos do not possess.Nrswanson (talk) 11:31, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Callas vs. Tebaldi?

Yes, I know, it's overworked, but there must be at least a paragraph on the famous rivalry between Callas and Tebaldi.... Doublea 00:08, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Callas and Tebaldi actually became very close friends during the seventies.TheGeniusPrince (talk) 19:47, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I don't know what the status of the article was back in November 2006 when this message was posted, but since there has been a reply today, I'll just note that the article currently has an extensive section covering this matter, Maria_Callas#Callas-Tebaldi_controversy. Robert K S (talk) 20:54, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Callas' once said that the difference between them was that Callas had a voice like a simple violin played by a master. And Tebaldi had a strdivari palyed by amateur.--Radames1 (talk) 18:41, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

External links

Nearly all of the external links were removed from the article by Legionarius, citing WP:EL. Some of these deletions were legitimate, such as those to a Greek language page. Other links, such as links to important scholarly articles about Callas's recordings were also deleted, even though they meet the requirements for an external link which should be included. If you feel this page does NOT meet these criteria, please state your argument on this page before removing the link. Thank you. Shahrdad (talk) 14:18, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

The thing on the left is missing?

Is there usually not a section on the top left giving some basic information about the artist? This appears to be missing? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 2008-04-20T11:24:27

In this case I don't think an info box (which is actually on the upper right not left) would be counterproductive for this article. The first sentence of this article already tells you that Callas is an opera singer and when and where she was born and died. Other information that is typically found in an info box in regaurds to a musician does not apply well in this case. For one, her voice type is a highly controvercial subject so placing a voice type in the info box would be misleading. Second, a "years active" section would also be inconclusive as you could count from several different dates such as from the years she was on the opera stage, the years she still performed in concert/ recitals, or her teaching career which would all be different and therefore hard to fit into an info box without distorting facts. Third, Callas recorded with many different labels so that wouldn't apply either. In conclusion, the only obvious information possible to place in an info box is stated in the first sentence of this article and therefore an info box would be redundant.Nrswanson (talk) 15:54, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Shake: Vibrato or Trill?

In the article, the link for "Shake" was changed from "Trill" to "Vibrato." However, in the 1800's, "Shake" was the common English term for "Trill." In Bel Canto: A Theoretical & Practical Vocal Method (Part One: Elementary and Progressive Exercixes for the Development of the Voice, Mathilde Marchesi has a chapter called "The Shake (Trill)." Clearly, this is not the same as Vibrato. The "Shake" is a term that has practically vanished from musical terminology in modern times, but it should not be confused Vibrato. gives a good history of the trill, and also states that "The English word for the trill in the 17th and 18th century was the very descriptive - ‘shake’."Shahrdad (talk) 15:06, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

I wrote to Dr. Robert Selestky regarding whether "Shake" meant Trill or Vibrato in Chorley's era, and this was his reponse:

Shake is ALWAYS "trill." That usage goes back to the 16th century and continues through the 19th. The word "vibrato" is modern and was not used at all; the effect was sometimes called "tremolo" when referring to that stop on the organ, but "tremolo" for voice in 17th century Italy meant what we call "trill"--2 notes, while their "trillo" meant trill on a single note--an effect that died out in the late 17th century. In English, trill is always called "shake." Geminiani (1751), in his violin treatise, is the only one who also refers to a "close shake" which described a two-finger micro-tonal trills (which no one does any more), while using "shake" to mean trill--like all others in English, obviously including Chorley. As to vibrato as such, instrumental treatises tend not to have a word for it other than tremolo; Geminiani actually describes and says "this cannot possibly be described in words." Most string treatises discourage its use except Geminiani. Wind instruments never used it so it's a moot point. I can't even think of any period vocal treatises that even discuss it except Tosi where, in the English translation, he pejoratively refers to it as "fluttering in the manner of those who sing in a very bad taste."

If you listen to old (pre-1910) instrumental recordings, there is NO organic vibrato; with winds, even the Scala recordings of the 1950s, lack it; and just listen to the oboe in the Mexico AIDAs! Completely straight tone. Strings started to use it organically after gut strings were abandoned as a result of the unavailability (they were made in Germany and Italy) during the first world war, and it stuck, unfortunately; but even great 20th century violin pedagogues like Leopold Auer discouraged its use. My feeling is that the voice starts to vibrate naturally as it hits a certain volume level, but it was never deliberate. The fast "fluttering" was considered anathema, and I doubt anyone with a wobbly, wide tremolo that he or she couldn't control would have considered a vocal career at all.

Also in an article called "The Trill is Gone", which was published in Opera News in January 1999, Will Crutchfield writes:

Debate has swirled over the question of whether the trill can be taught to singers who cannot do it spontaneously -- or, as an English translator of Gianbattista Mancini put it in the eighteenth century, "whether it is possible to give the shake where nature has witheld it." ("Shake" is the old British term for the trill; historically, it doesn't mean anything different from "trill," though some voice teachers today use it colloquially to mean one or another of the defective ways the trill can be approximated.)

I went ahead and restored the link between Shake and Trill in the Callas Article. Shahrdad (talk) 21:41, 29 May 2008 (UTC)


Lets not be too extreme. Callas was one of the most famous sopranos of the 1950s. She was not the only one - there was Schwarzkopf too, and as others have mentioned, Tebaldi. By 1960, she was eclipsed by the likes of Leontyne Price, Joan Sutherland and others. Calling her "the most" or "perhaps the most" is extreme. She was a top soprano, but not by any means the only one. Wallie (talk) 16:37, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the change you made, but going by evidence of reputation, renown, influence, fame beyond the actual field of profession, and longevity of influence, Callas is by far the most renowned singer of the Twentieth Century. L. Price's influence has not been as deep or as long-lived, nor did she bring any major change to the art of opera. Of all the singers you mentioned, Callas was and continues to be the most influential, and her recordings, commercial and pirated, continue to outsell generation after generation of singers. She has had more books, plays, and movies about her than all the others combined. In terms of fame outside of Opera, only Sills came close, but her fame was mainly restricted to the United States and did not transfer outside of North America to any appreciable extent.
Again, I like your phrasing very well, but saying she was the most renowned singer of the 20th Century is not an exaggeration in any form or shape.Shahrdad (talk) 04:18, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I know that she is significant in the areas you mention. Wikipedia does tend to slightly understate things though. If you look at the article on Caruso, it says similar things about him. It does not say he is "the most", etc. If it did, people may dispute this with other examples - such as Callas. I am sure that you would place Caruso at the same level as Callas for being famous. Wallie (talk) 10:13, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you completely. I think saying it the way you did sounds much more "professional," so to speak. The other way sounds almost too adulatory. (talk) 00:58, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

Non-free coin image

This article contains a non-free image of a 'Maria Callas commemorative coin' from Euro gold and silver commemorative coins (Greece). Three questions:

1. Is this a copyright infringement? This is what it says on the Licence:
"This image depicts a unit of currency. Some currency designs are ineligible for copyright and are in the public domain. Others are copyrighted. In these cases, their use on Wikipedia is contended to be fair use when they are used for the purposes of commentary or criticism relating to the image of the currency itself. Any other usage of them, on Wikipedia or elsewhere, may be copyright infringement."
2. Is it here for commercial reasons, to boost the resale value of the coin etc?
3. Is it appropriate to the article, or is it trivia? Would it be better to have a 'See also' link to Euro gold and silver commemorative coins (Greece) rather than have the coin in this article?

I'd be grateful for opinions. Thanks. --Kleinzach 00:51, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Kleinzach, are you in a personal quest against my contributions to Wikipedia now? I will answer your questions though:
  1. No it is not, as clearly stated in the licence, if the image on the coin is either commented or criticized, then we are within compliance of the "fair use" rationale of the image. This applies to almost all currency and stamp images in Wikipedia. I can search for you the classic sample of a baseball card image, referenced all over wikipedia as a sample to follow when using non-free images for fair-use.
  2. No it is not, that obviously will not be allowed. It is here to show the notability of Maria Callas from a different angle: the Greek goverment mints only one or two commemorative coins per year; the fact that she was seleted the main motif for one of the coins gives you an idea of the importance and relevance of her and her work for Greek Culture. It just tells you how important she is from a different angle.
  3. But of course it is appropriate. Do I need to invite all the people that commented in Talk:Theater_am_Kärntnertor#Austrian_coin_issue:_Revert_fighting to comment here too? I would be against your suggestion to just add the link in the "see also" section, since it does not say why and you remove the importance of showing that she is depicted in a coin.
I hope that this answers your questions, but feel free to reply here or in my talk page if you need any more information. Why are you against showing in Wikipedia that people (and buildings) are being used as main motif for commemorative coins when it is obvious that it shows the notability of the person (or buildign) from a different angle? Regards, Miguel.mateo (talk) 01:53, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Media_copyright_questions#Commemorative_coin_images where it's been explained that the use of the image here is a opyright infringement. --Kleinzach 02:42, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Dude, check the discussion yourself please, David is incorrect and some users already said that. I have the classical samples of non-free but fair use images and I can prove him wrong. Don't you think that I extensively discussed this topic in the past before doing contributions of this type for almost two years now? Miguel.mateo (talk) 03:05, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Let's have some opinions from the editors of this article. --Kleinzach 03:08, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

  • I don't think the coin content is essential or really adds anything of value to this article. Having a commerative coin is not all that unusual if you are famous. It's non-essential trivia in my view. However, the content is brief and the picture pleasing to look at, so its use here doesn't bother me. I honestly don't care whether it stays or goes. Nrswanson (talk) 09:22, 20 February 2009 (UTC)

Callas's Range

Wiki user has been changing the "Vocal Size and Range" so that highest note performed becomes an F, not an E. In addition, he or she has been deleting the keyboard photo showing the range on a piano keyboard. I have corrected the problem twice already, but he or she keeps changing it back. In a personal message, wrote, "It's write in the page 85 of the book of Eve Ruggierri, La Callas, la plus grande du XXème siècle., that Maria Callas have touch the F-natural at the end of Dilette Amiche."

The cited source, however, is in conflict with the more definitive sources on Callas, as well as with the recordings (commercial and live) when compared to a piano keyboard.

In The Callas Legacy section concerning the 1951 live performance of I Vespri Siciliani, John Ardoin writes, "She makes a misjudgment at the very end of the Bolero when she reaches for an E in alt and splits the note in two." Later on, in his review of Callas's 1954 EMI recording of the Bolero, he writes, "The final E is fine here and rings with more conviction than the same note at the end of the Bell Song. Still, it does sound like the very upper limit of her voice at this moment."

I restored the section to its more correct form.Shahrdad (talk) 19:27, 29 November 2009 (UTC) writes in a email to my account that "It is even written at the page 85 of La Callas, la plus grande du XXème siècle. that erudite music lovers regret that Callas have touch the high F at the end of Dillette Amiche, because Verdi have never written this note . This means therefore that all erudite know that Callas could touch the high F and it is even written in the Wikipedia article on the Callas's Vocal Range that Rock Ferris said that Callas have touch the high F during her concert of June 11, 1951 in Florence, so ?!"
The source you cite is only one source which is in conflict not only with all the other literature, but also with Callas's recordings when compared with a piano. There is debate as to whether Callas ever sang a high F in public, and critics and authors do make errors. Callas might have sung an F in Armida, but the most dependable sources consider this to be an E which is raised to an F by the live recording having been played at too high a speed. The score for Armida and the score for Vespri and the key in which the Bolero is written does not allow for an F to be sung in the end of either piece. The Wikipedia article already makes a point that Callas might have sung an F sometime in her career, but this is quite debatable. There is even a package insert from a 1980 Time-Life box set of Callas LP's which refers to Callas singing F-sharps in practice, but this does not meet either critical or encyclopedic criteria to be included here. Shahrdad (talk) 12:11, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

In my book, it's write that Callas have touch the high F in Dilette Amiche during the representation of I Vespri Siciliani of the Florence's Musical May of 1951. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:56, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

There are several recordings of this performance. Testament recordings recently released a CD which was taken from the original tape of this performance, and the final high note in the "Bolero" (Mercè, dilette amiche) is a high E. It does not matter what your book says or does not say. The fact stands that the audio evidence shows only an E, and all other literature concerning this performance indicate an E and not an F. Shahrdad (talk) 15:06, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

The Vocal Size and Range section assumed it's present form after a lot of discussion about Callas's range. Most authorities consider her range to extend to a high E in performance. Several people point to one certain performance as having had a high F. However, other point out that the recording was being played to fast and the finale of Armida is in the key of E and the final note HAD to be an E. As for the piano keyboard, several readers mentioned that they couldn't understand what a E in alt or E6 is. The wholesale changes done to the section are too drastic and unexplained and were reversed. Shahrdad (talk) 00:33, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Ownership of the article?

Shahrdad, what is exactly an original version? The version that you have written, based entirely on one source (which is not easily verified), with a section that uses some unnecessary information, has a second-class layout and is likely a product of copy-pasting certain parts of the source? In what sense the new version is poorly worded since it keeps most of the phrases of the older version? Grammatical errors can be fixed, but the older version doesn't use such a qualitative language. What about someone who wants to edit the article? We should not change anything, we cannot move a sentence within a paragraph, we cannot rewrite a sentence, we cannot delete something that looks redundant because you will revert it with the excuse that your "original version" looks better to you? This is what we call ownership. Please provide the parts of the new version that are poorly worded and contain grammatical errors, as well as the parts of the old version that were wrongly removed. - Sthenel (talk) 23:32, 19 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree with Sthenel. Expanding the article, even to 98%, and observing to the changes on it, does not mean that you have responsibility to keep match the article. Wikipedia does not give the right to own an article, or to determine what is the original version of the article.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 19:48, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps calling it "the original version" is not the best phrase. More appropriate would have been "the previous version." The source used for these very early years is by far the most thoroughly researched and almost certainly the most accurate resource for information on Callas's early years. There have been many changes to the article that greatly improve on the previous work by me and others, and there have been other changes that make the already long article longer without adding any further value. For example, adding info about Callas's mother's feelings of social superiority adds nothing to the essential fact that she and her husband were incompatible and that she went to America reluctantly. The present version touches on all the salient points without any unnecessary and meretricious facts, rumors, or assumptions. Shahrdad (talk) 03:03, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
Again, stating that this version is good and preventing the others from even rewording some phrases is too far from how wikipedia works. Additionaly, if you find a source the most accurate, it doesn't mean that we can't use other reliable sources for certain info. The fact that you didn't discuss previously with an editor (me) the reversion and all of your comments are pure examples of ownership. - Sthenel (talk) 12:46, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
The current version was written and rewritten after much discussion and collaboration between several authors. For example is was decided that Callas should be introduced in the article as she was introduced to the world on her birth certificate, which is the earliest written document about her. Her christened name as well as how her name came to be Callas from Kalos and Karogeropoulos is shown afterwards. If you feel that it is absolutely necessary to add something about Evangelia's feelings of social superiority over her husband and whether or not this information adds anything of value about Callas herself, by all means add it. I am not sure we even need the phrase about her father's philandering in here, since just knowing that the parents simply did not get along might be enough. As I recall, it was included to give at least one reason for Litza's hostility towards her husband. Any valuable or new information is always welcome, but wholesale re-writing of a section which already touches on all the important points about Callas's early life is unnecessary. Shahrdad (talk) 16:34, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
It's not the point here. Maybe I was wrong in some points but I asked for your comments that you never made. What I want to make clear is that when someone edits the article you should discuss the changes instead of reverting his edits (of course I don't talk about unexplained edits which impair the article). Avoiding to discuss and coming back one month later after another user's intervention doesn't help. - Sthenel (talk) 17:33, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
WP:BRD governs the editing process. If an editor edits the article and Shahrdad reverts the bold edit with an appropriate edit summary, it becomes incumbent on the editor to bring his or her concerns and reasoning to the talk page. Robert K S (talk) 18:29, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

MoS rule

According to the MoS rule, the previous citizenships are not listed in the first sentences, and the citizenship at birth too.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 19:33, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Actually, what the MoS says is "In the normal case this will mean the country of which the person is a citizen or national, or was a citizen when the person became notable." In the case of Callas, she was born an American citizen and remained as such during the priod when she "became notable." She did not give up her American citizenship and assume Greek citizenship until her career on the opera stage was over. Going by these rules, she should be called an American soprano; however, since during her formative years she lived in Greece and was ethnically 100% Greek, the most appropriate descriptor would be "an American-born Greek soprano" or "a Greek-American" soprano. Calling her a "Greek soprano" clearly goes against the rules of MoS.
Furthermore, the MoS also says "Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities and/or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability." Again, in Callas's case, "American-born Greek" is the most fitting. Calling her "Greek" is not correct, since during the height of her fame and activity, she was an American citizen married to an Italian and living in Italy, and the vast majority of her career was based in Italy. Also, at the height of her notability, she performed very very little in Greece. Calling her a "Greek-American" is not terribly good either, since that implies an American of Greek ancestry who lives and is active mostly in the USA, which Callas was not. Calling her an American-born Greek acknowledges the fact that she was born an American and remained an American during her most active and notable period while at the same time acknowledging that she was also a Greek woman. Giving equal weight to these two facts of her life is far more accurate than using either one alone.Shahrdad (talk) 03:12, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
The nationality in the first sentence should be a combination of the ethnicity, citizenship, and the notability as well. It is more common to consider Maria Callas only as "Greek" sporano, because she was an ethnic Greek, being educated in Athens, and used to be a "Greek soprano". In this case, her American citizenship at birth is irrelevant. It is true, that she gained the Greek citizenship late in her life, but she was widely acclaimed as Greek soprano, during her career, without having a Greek citizenship.--Kiril Simeonovski (talk) 09:27, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
As you say, it should be a "combination of the ethnicity, citizenship, and the notability." Callas was born an American, and for 42 of her 53 years, Callas was an American citizen. She was a Greek citizen only from 1966 till 1977, and her last operatic stage performance was in July of 1965. Thus for the entirety of her active years on the operatic stage, including her early Greek years, she was an American. Hence, the word American should not and cannot be excluded from the first sentence. She was ethnically Greek and trained in Greece and died a Greek citizen, thus the word Greek should not be eliminated either. For all these reasons, the phrase "an American-born Greek soprano" is the most apt introduction, which is incidentally the same conclusion that the Encyclopedia Britannica reached: if you do a search for Callas Britannica, she shows up as an "(American singer)", but within the article itself, Britannica introduces her as "American-born Greek operatic soprano who revived classical coloratura roles in the mid-20th century with her lyrical and dramatic versatility."
In all honesty, I feel that Italy and the fact that Callas was a singer of the "Italian school" and made what she calls her "big career" and "main career" in Italy and became "La Callas" and "La Divina" in that country are getting short-changed in the introduction, but I think that current version is as good as it is likely to get. Shahrdad (talk) 14:46, 10 April 2010 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree with Shahrdad on this. In my opinion it would be a bit mis-leading to call her simply a Greek soprano.4meter4 (talk) 15:23, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

Edits to the "Voice" section

I did some major edits, additions, a couple of deletions, and a few rearrangements to the Voice section. I think previously, the section did not deal enough with Callas's vocal idiosyncrasies and the areas for which her voice was and is often criticized. I tried to give the point-counterpoint to all these. I deleted a few sentences that were either redundant or didn't belong in this section. Shahrdad (talk) 11:03, 13 May 2010 (UTC)