CM: This album cover is the authentic one for the recital where Callas Portrays Puccini Heroines. The recording involved Maria Callas (1923-1977) and the London Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Tullio Serafin (1878-1968) in September 1954 (at that time Callas further recorded another album of lyric and coloratura arias). The portrait that adorns the cover was created by Angus McBean (1904-1990) in his London studio following the recording and perhaps specifically for the needs of the record. A revolutionary portraitist, here McBean immortalizes the likes of Callas blending drama with the consummate skill of photography.
Counter tenor Aris Christofellis made the following comment about the cover: "While Callas transformed herself onto the stage in the most tragic and dramatic manner, in studio photographs she systematically avoids to reveal darker aspects of her soul". This is a photograph from a brief period in her life (from September 1954 until January 1955) during which she had dyed her hair blond for her role as Maddalena in Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chénier that she sang at La Scala, Milan. In this pose Callas' face appears frontally under a clear light, with the hands symmetrically positioned on her chin in a momentary state of self awareness. She wears a simple dark stripped dress and many pieces of jewelry. As one of the lesser-known photographs of Callas, the present cover is an historic artefact.
[Megakles Rogakos 08/2008]
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES Silent Dialogues: Multimedia Portraits Throughout Time 2008 The American College of Greece, Athens