Listen: The Art of Beautiful Singing

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Welcome to Operavore, a new show about all things operatic. We know that herbivores like nothing better than a juicy green leaf...carnivores juicy red meat. Operavores? Nothing makes them happier than beautiful singing, and that’s what’s on today’s menu.

The operas of Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini gave it a name: bel canto. On today's show, writer Fred Plotkin shows us how it can turn up in some unexpected places. Playwright Terrence McNally tells interviewer (and legendary mezzo) Marilyn Horne how beautiful singing hooked him. He also considers some of his favorite modern operas and unusual productions.

And La Cieca – also known as James Jorden, editor of the opera fan website Parterre Box – tells us why beautiful singing doesn't always turn up where you might think. Join host Naomi Lewin for our debut edition of Operavore.

This week's show re-airs on the Operavore Stream on Monday at 2 pm. Also: Follow Operavore on Twitter at @Operavore.

Tell Us: Which Performance Epitomizes Maria Callas?

The soprano Maria Callas (1923-1977) is often credited with revitalizing the art of bel canto. But she's just as well known for the passion of her fans — and her detractors.

Some fans relish the stylistic acuity of her bel canto roles and intensity she brought to dramatic scenes. Others found the technical flaws in her singing — including a wobble that grew worse in later years — too pronounced to ignore.

There was also Callas the personality. Some found her to be difficult and demanding while fans say she was simply a perfectionist.

Where do you stand? Listen to these three clips and tell us which best captures Callas in the comments below. We'll share some of your remarks on next week's show.


1) "Ah! Non giunge uman pensiero" from Bellini's La Sonnambula (Paris, 1965)

2) "Vissi d’arte" from Puccini's Tosca (Covent Garden, 1964)

3) Casta Diva from Bellini's Norma (Rome, 1957 - Callas enters at 2:25)