Callas’s studio recordings – an introduction

Released in September 2014, Warner, the new owners of the EMI catalogue, re-mastered all the Callas EMI and Cetra studio recordings and released them in a luxury box on 70 CDs with a hardback book of photos and articles about the re-mastering process, and a CD-Rom iincluding all the opera libretti and texts of the recital discc. Each disc is in a separate paper envelope, each opera or recital in a harder card envelope with a booklet containing an essay on the recording, by either Tony Locantro or Ira Siff.

Truth to tell, these essays are mere puffs and one regrets Warner’s decision not to use John Steane’s essays that accompanied the original EMI issues.

The re-masters have been well managed and, for the most part, sound better than any of the previous issues, and a good deal better than the disastrous 1997 EMI Callas Edition versions, though one or two still sound best in their 1980s EMI incarnations. Sound aficionados will no doubt tell you that the best sound is to be had on the original LP pressings, and they may well be right, but I no longer have the room for a record player and vinyl, so CDs will do fine for me, and a lot better than the majority of internet downloads.

Over a period of several months, I listened to the complete set in reverse chronological order, reviewing each one in turn, and I have decided this would be a good place to collate all the reviews.

There are 26 complete operas and thirteen recital discs.