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Callas remasters

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They are also now available (some of them, anyway) at HDtracks.


I'm of two minds about these remasters. I'm a big Callas fan and have many of her recordings (studio and live, 'official' and otherwise) on RBCD, and the thought of having the studio EMI recordings sounding better than ever is very tempting. On the other hand, IMO she's not at her greatest on those recordings--her live ones are more intense and she sings with more abandon. And then those EMI recordings never had great sound to begin with, certainly not in the same league as contemporaneous opera recordings done by RCA and Decca, so it's questionable for me as to how much those recordings can be improved by 24/96 remastering.


All that said, I may still give a couple a try, probably the 1953 'Tosca' and 'Carmen' from 1964 (one of my faves).



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I wonder whether the new 24/96 releases are merely the late-1990's digital transfers for EMI's CD releases of that time (with mostly black boxes). The latter were much better than EMI's original CD releases.


IMO, these studio recordings are attractive for Tito Gobbi as much as for Callas. The 1955 Rigoletto from this series is superb. I also enjoy Di Stefano even though he can be hammy.

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When stereo came out in the late '50's EMI famously rerecorded several of Callas's earlier mono studio recordings, with different (and sometimes better) supporting casts. This happened to both Norma and Tosca. However, unlike Tebaldi who had a similar thing occur with Decca (London in the US), Callas' voice had deteriorated signficantly between the mono and stereo recordings. In particular, her vibrato had become a wide (and to me and many others irritating) wobble. She was and I think still is the best dramatic soprano ever. I only have a handful of her pirated live recording, and most all of her EMI studio recordings in vinyl. Most of the mono EMI studio recordings were reissues done by EMI in box sets and (boo, hiss) electronic stereo.


I also have the Testament vinyl reissue of the mono Tosca, whom many think is the finest Tosca ever. It is Catalogue Number 33CX1094-95, which is the same as the original release. Testament usually does their releases from the original master tapes.



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I downloaded the 1953 ‘Tosca’ earlier today via HDtracks and sampled several tracks via headphones. Very, very impressive. Mono, of course, but very clean and distortion-free. Voices were very clear and distinct. Nice, wide dynamic range and sense of space. I didn’t have a chance to compare it with my Great Recordings of the Century CD, but I can’t see how it could be better than this download. The only weird thing about it is the “Warner Classics” logo on the original cover art—I might have to obliterate it via Photoshop!!!




BTW, for those of you who care about such things, here are the waveform/spectrum graphs of the final track. Looks pretty darned good, especially for a recording that’s more than 60 years old.





MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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Thanks much Russell!

Succinct and informative post.

Please post again if you download other Callas material.

Much appreciated


Thanks, Milt99! I've also downloaded 'Carmen' (1964), 'Madama Butterfly' (1955), and the 'Mad Scenes' recital (1958). All very good aurally and graphically, though there's a slight hint of cloudiness in the Mad Scenes (most likely in the master). Nothing to worry about, though. Great performances all.



MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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