Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Maria Callas

Music History Monday: La Divina in Chicago

We mark the American operatic debut on November 1, 1954 – 67 years ago today – of “La Divina” – “the divine one” – meaning Maria Callas at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Callas performed her signature role of Norma in Vincenzo Bellini’s opera of the same name under the baton of Nicola Rescigno. I have never envied great athletes or dancers, except perhaps for the income potential of the former. My (general) lack of envy stems from the all-too-brief shelf life of such careers. With rare exception – Phil Niekro, George Blanda, George Foreman, and Tom Brady come to mind – most top athletes and dancers hit their prime in their twenties. By their thirties, wear and tear and the aging process have damaged their bodies and eroded their skills and will soon enough bring their careers to an end. (Magnificent though they still are, Steph Curry [33 years old, born 1988] and LeBron James [presently still 36 years old, born 1984] are considered to be among the “old men” of their sport, that being professional basketball. An old man at 33? Please.) What professional athletes, dancers, and musicians all have in common is that they will have begun […]

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Dr. Bob Prescribes: Richard Strauss – Four Last Songs

There are fighting words, and then there are FIGHTING WORDS. As for the former, small-case version of “fighting words” I would lump political discourse (which can, admittedly, get pretty hot these days; I trust none of you are put off by the fact that I keep politics out of this site, not because I am an apolitical wuss but because I want this to be a safe place for everybody); the question as to whether steroid-era baseball superstars like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGuire belong in the hall of fame; or whether Certs should be considered a breath mint or a candy mint. As someone writing on topics musical, I would list but one category of true, all caps FIGHTING WORDS, and that topic/category is singers. I have found that you can say pretty much anything about someone’s children, mother, pets, and car (okay; maybe not their car), but mess with that person’s favorite singer(s) and you will be in for a world of hurt. For example. In last week’s Music History Monday, I extolled the glories of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca. In the course of the post, I indicated that my favorite recording of the opera features […]

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