November 25, 2023

We All Make Mystiques

The unforgettable night in New York when Jackie Kennedy watched as opera’s greatest diva sang Tosca and bungled the high C

Anyone who came to opera in the mid-1950s, as I did, knew Maria Callas, because unlike her contemporaries—but very much like Leonard Bernstein—she attracted media attention wherever she went. Lenny was on television and featured in New York reviews (mostly negative) and glamorous photo shoots, and Callas, who maintained a private and adoring press agent—the redoubtable Elsa Maxwell, who was also a gossip columnist—was seemingly always surrounded by scandal, controversy, conicting critical assessments, and wild adoration.

As a boy, I knew what she looked like because there would be articles about her in popular magazines, like Life magazine. Edward R. Murrow interviewed her live in 1958 on his interview series, Person to Person. She performed a scene from Tosca on the popular variety program e Ed Sullivan Show. All other sopranos were somehow small compared to Callas. Her biggest rival, Renata Tebaldi, had the most enormous and warm soprano voice and was a tremendously empathetic presence onstage, but Callas dismissed her publicly when she was quoted in Time magazine saying that comparing her to Tebaldi was like “comparing champagne to Coca-Cola.”

Callas seemed always to be in the news, even as her voice—never beautiful— disintegrated before us. But that never stopped...

More News

The Sound of Hollywood
A 16-CD set release of the complete Hollywood Bowl Orchestra recordings with John Mauceri....
Read More
Wagnerian Army
Among the many confusions about the private Russian army known as “the Wagner Group” is how to pronounce its name. Reporters and pundits seem to vacillate between “Wag-ner” and “Vog-ner.” Also, nobody seems to know how the group got its name....
Read More
Cate Blanchett Plays Herself
The star of “Tár” reunites with her opening-scene partner for a conversation about listening to music, going before audiences, and the art of acting in life and in the movies....
Read More
A Lost Operatic Masterpiece...
...Written By White Men For An All-Black Cast Was Found And Restored. Can It Be Produced Without Controversy?...
Read More
The View from Here
Why isn’t John Williams treated like Igor Stravinsky?...
Read More
And now on BBC Music Magazine!
Actor Cate Blanchett and writer/director Todd Field talk to Michael Beek about creating their riveting psychological drama set against the backdrop of very real music-making......
Read More
I am on Variety!
The dialogue in “Tár,” Todd Field’s movie about a high-profile classical-music conductor, rings true at every turn......
Read More
The New Operatic
"'The War on Music' is a stellar work of great scholarship and polemical worth......
Read More
Tár
I had the pleasure of being a consultant for the film Tár, about the fictional......
Read More
The Yale Archives
The Yale Symphony Orchestra, which I directed from 1968–75, has made available a nine-page gallery with programs, letters, photos, and a million other documents of the time......
Read More
Copyright  ©2008–2022 JOHN MAUCERI. All rights reserved.
Designed by T. Tiberio and J. Ross
chevron-down
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram