It has come to my attention that young voice students don’t know who Callas was. This posting is an attempt to set that straight for, in some opinions, mine included, she was the greatest musician of the 20th century. I will not go too much into her biography. So many documentaries and biographies have been written about her. I will present clips from youtube that were made when she was heavy. She lost about 80 lbs. between 1953 and 1954. This weight loss had an effect on this voice, and this effect is palpable. I will therefore concentrate on recordings made when she was heavy.
One thing that I would like to note from the outset is that Callas was called a spinto soprano. She sang Wagner and the high dramatic roles in the Italian repertory. I think that she was truly a high dramatic soprano. However, even with her dramatic voice, Callas brought back the Bel Canto repertory. How did she do this? Her teacher at the Athens Conservatory was Elvira de Hidalgo, a colaratura soprano who was trained in the Bel Canto techniques. And this is the way in which she trained Callas, making Callas keep a heavy voice light. De Hidalgo made Callas what she later became.
And one final note. Callas was terribly nearsighted. She wore thick glasses and had glaucoma, which can happen to very nearsighted people. Yet, she never wore glasses on the stage. This means that she was nearly blind and could never see the conductor. She did everything by ear.