Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Would Have Enlarged on This a Bit.

Found in a San Francisco Opera press release covering details of their opening weekend (boldface mine):
At 8 p.m, the curtain will rise at the War Memorial Opera House for the opening night performance of Norma, starring soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, in the role made famous by Maria Callas.
Um. By the time Callas sang Norma, the opera was about 120 years old. Callas was a great Norma, but not the first and not the last. Her great predecessors include Giuditta Pasta, the legendary soprano for whom the role was written; Maria Malibran, Giulia Grisi, Lilli Lehmann, Ester Mazzoleni, Giannina Russ, Claudia Muzio, Rosa Raisa, Rosa Ponselle, and others. Callas wasn't the first, or the last, soprano to contribute to the role's fame.


John Marcher said...

True enough, but I think you'd have to agree at upwards of 80% of the people reading the press release would have no idea who any of those singers were (and up figure that to 95% reading the same copy in a brochure). It's just a marketing tool, and Maria Callas is marketable.

Giuditta Pasta? Not so much, unless there's a dish named after her being served at the donor's dinner.

Lisa Hirsch said...

If press releases were for the general public, I'd agree completely. But press releases go to music critics and other music biz people, at least some of whom are likely to be knowledgeable about operatic history and especially a famous and famously difficult role such as Norma.

I'd expect to find the emphasis on Callas in their ads and subscriber email.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be at least as accurate to say that Norma is the role that made Maria Callas famous?

I once tried to counter an acquaintances's claim that Barbra Streisand was the greatest female singer in history, by bringing up Giuditta Pasta. I don't think I succeeded in making my point.

Lisa Hirsch said...

HAHAHAHA re Pasta. That is great.

I confess that I am not familiar enough with Callas's performing history to know whether Norma was the role that made her famous, but it's certainly plausible.