[CALLAS, Maria (1923-1977)] – Her collection of musical scores, 19thC-1970s, chiefly 1940s-1950s.

Approximately 290 items in total, mostly scores published in Milan by Ricordi, alongside editions from other Italian, French, German and English publishers, with most major composers of opera represented, the majority mid-20th century, scattered examples dating from the turn of the 20th century, along with librettos, aria sheets, song books and other printed and manuscript ephemera; a number of the scores with dedications from composers, librettists, and admirers; many of the scores marked and annotated for study by Maria Callas (her role underlined or the relevant parts of the score marked, page numbers added, scattered notes, generally in pen) and by other hands, often those of the conductors, and cuts to the music indicated by folded, stapled or glued pages;

the scores apparently used by Callas for productions in which she performed, including Il pirata (liberally annotated by Callas: ‘tempo doppio p.108', '1/2 tono sotto tutto', 'stentato', 'ottava sopra') , Poliuto (cuts marked in blue crayon; presumably her working score for the 1960 performance at La Scala), Fedora (1898 score; annotated by Callas: ‘si dolce’, ‘attente’), Medea [Médée], La Valchiria [Die Walküre], Parsifal, and La sonnambula; for recordings she made, including Carmen, Il trovatore, Aroldo, Attila, Verdi’s Otello and Il Corsaro; and for parts she apparently studied but never performed, including Francesca da Rimini, Il crepuscolo degli dei [Götterdämmerung], Il Mitridate Eupatore, La battaglia di Legnano, Giovanna d'Arco, I due Foscari, Lucrezia Borgia (photocopied), Maria di Rohan, Gemma di Vergy, Rossini’s Otello, Beatrice di Tenda, and Idomeneo.

Provenance: Maria Callas (1923-1977); c. 55 volumes in her personalised cloth bindings, in various colours, bearing the monogram ‘MC’ or ‘MMC’ [Maria Meneghiri Callas] on the spine – Sotheby’s Milan, 12 December 2007, (part of) lot 88.

An important piece of opera history from the personal library of Maria Callas. The present scores are as enticing for the tangible connection they offer to the roles Callas came to define – her marked copies of Il pirata, Carmen and Poliuto are a highlight – as they are for tracing an alternate career of parts left un-sung: the duets marked in the score for Francesca da Rimini, for example, in which the titular role was famously taken by Magda Olivero in the 1959 La Scala production, offer a tantalising glimpse of the performances that might have been.
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