The Callas Imprint: A Centennial Biography
Sophia Lambton

Published in December 2023 to coincide with the centenary of opera singer and diva Maria Callas’ birth, ‘The Callas Imprint’ is a weighty, impressive biography, the result of 12 years of research by British novelist and music critic Sophia Lambton.

Maria Callas

Maria Callas

Lambton was first introduced to the artistry of Maria Callas at the age of 13. From there, an infatuation first with Callas’ voice and later with Callas the person developed. The book is not only a tribute to Maria Callas, written with the reverence that Callas reserved for her own heroines, but also a remarkable account of Callas’ fascinating life, from her birth in Manhattan in 1923 to her untimely death from a heart attack at the age of 53.

Maria Callas sings Bizet’s Carmen: Séguedille (Hamburg, 1962)

But this is no ordinary biography. Mining a rich seam of some 3395 sources, spanning 80 years across 21 countries, Lambton has, in effect, created a dossier of Callas’ life, both on and offstage. Drawing on never before seen archival material and correspondence, including letters between Callas and her manager Sander Gorlinksy, to and from her fellow operatic colleagues (for example, directors Luchino Visconti and Alexis Minotis, vocal coach Alberta Masiello, and music critic Harold Rosenthal), and interviews with friends of Callas who have either rarely spoken or been erroneously quoted, the author paints a vibrant, intimate and poignant portrait of a woman who hypnotised the world. Callas is vividly brought to life through her own experiences, professional and personal, her musings about roles, performances, recordings, and her life, reminiscences from friends and colleagues, and commentary from critics and audiences.

Alfredo Catalani: La Wally, Act I: Ebben? Ne andro lontana (Maria Callas, soprano; Philharmonia Orchestra; Tullio Serafin, cond.)

The Callas Imprint: A Centennial Biography by Sophia Lambton

The Callas Imprint: A Centennial Biography by Sophia Lambton

In addition, the book debunks many of the myths surrounding Callas, perpetrated by critics and others, and unveils the enigma and complexity of Callas. The author also catalogues Callas’ performances and offers commentary on her technique and the quality of her voice in particular recordings, demonstrating a sound knowledge of opera garnered through her own experience as a music critic. The many insights into Callas’ professional life, how involved she was not only in the singing of roles but also in costume, set design, and staging, for example, and her anxieties about her changing voice as she got older, demonstrate the intricate and complex relationship she had with her art, and highlight the wider question of the artistic authenticity, integrity and personality – the highs and lows of being an internationally celebrated soprano, from triumphant performances with rapturous encores to tense evenings marred by off-key notes.

Maria Callas

A book for opera fans and music lovers in general, The Callas Imprint is a multi-faceted, in-depth examination of an extraordinary woman and an important contribution to the literature and legend of Maria Callas, presented in elegant, informative, and candid prose.

‘The Callas Imprint’ by Sophia Lambton is published by The Crepuscular Press.

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