The breathtaking range of Maria Callas’s recorded legacy becomes all the more astonishing when we consider that all her studio opera recordings were made in little over a decade: she recorded no fewer than 24 complete works between 1952 and 1960 (the majority between 1953 and 1957). Soon after moving to Paris, she added Carmen and a second Tosca to the list, in 1964 and 1965 respectively. Her complete studio recordings, including a series of celebrated recital discs, all painstakingly remastered from the original tapes, were released in a luxury box set by Warner Classics in 2014. With the kind permission of Warner Music, here is our reproduction of Michel Roubinet’s introductory text in the album booklet ‘Maria Callas Live’.

These studio recordings are a central, even pre-eminent facet of her discography in that the finished product, requiring the shared vision of all the leading players involved (unlike live recordings), faithfully reflects their conception of each work at a particular moment in time. Recognising their importance, however, in no way undermines the widespread belief that the art of this born tragedienne can only be fully understood with a parallel awareness of her work on stage in the opera house, with all the thrills and risk-taking that come with live performance. Not to mention, there is a certain level of freedom that Maria Callas would not have granted herself in the studio, and that a conductor such as Tullio Serafin would never have accepted in any case. On the 20th anniversary of the singer’s death in 1997, when EMI began releasing the individual volumes of its Maria Callas Edition, the inclusion of her most significant live recordings was unquestionable. That venture continued until 2003, featuring a total of 15 historic performances as well as numerous recitals.