cover image Maria Meneghini Callas

Maria Meneghini Callas

Michael Scott, Author Northeastern University Press $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-55553-146-1

In a biography for serious Callas (1923-1977) students, Scott ( The Great Caruso ) traces the career of the controversial diva from her teenage appearances as a budding prima donna through the triumphs of the early 1950s to later years when Callas's voice was increasingly frail. Pointing out the ``contradiction between the depth of Callas's extraordinary musicianship and the narrowness of her intellect,'' Scott plays down the sensational aspects of his subject's personal life and concentrates on her artistic genius. He analyzes her major performances and recordings, defining the prodigious talent and technique that, at the height of her vocal powers, she put to brilliant use in reviving the nearly forgotten early-19th-century bel canto opera repertoire. Scott's description of the rapid deterioration of her voice from the mid-'50s to her death adds a contrasting poignancy to the chronicle. Photos. (Sept.)