La Scala gingerly revives a Maria Callas role

La Scala gingerly revives a Maria Callas role


norman lebrecht

June 29, 2018

Tonight, La Scala will give its first performance of Bellini’s Il Pirata for 60 years.

Back in 1958, Antonino Votto conducted a truncated version with Maria Callas, Franco Corelli and Ettore Bastianini.

Imogene is one of three Callas roles that La Scala has never revived. The others are Medea – and Paolina in Donizetti’s Poliuto (but let’s not go there).

Tonight, Sonya Yoncheva will take the Callas role. Riccardo Frizza will conduct almost the complete score.

Stand by for reactions.


  • Dominic Stafford says:

    Go to one of the Roberta Mantegna performances. I saw her in Monte Carlo in April and she is truly wonderful. A proper Italian technique, wonderful dynamics, great attack, superb phrasing. Not to be missed.

  • Caravaggio says:

    There’s good reason why those three roles were never again revived at La Scala. The soprano they hired as Imogene lacks the material, physical, temperamental and aural, required to approach, let alone surpass, Callas’ accomplishment. This is fact, not fiction.

  • anon says:

    Beautiful final scene, so beautiful Bellini recycled it for Casta Diva.

  • Marcus Clayton says:

    I just can’t imagine Yoncheva attempting Imogene.
    I saw her do Mimi in La Boheme at the Met recently and she had some vocal trouble with that. il Pirata is a much more difficult score.
    The great Montserrat Caballe once said that she thought Pirata was more diffcult to sing than Norma.
    At the rate she’s going, Yoncheva will have her career flame out very soon if she continues the way she has been.

  • anon says:

    When I was young and foolish, I paid a ridiculous sum (box seats) to see Renée Fleming in Il Pirata at the Met. I can’t remember a single thing from that performance except the price. Should’ve invested that money instead. Or had two Michelin 3-star meals.

    • Debra says:

      LOL .. I went too, but, alas, not box seats(they were gift) and of course not being a fan of mrs fleming, there I was wondering what the fuss what’s all about. Still waiting.

  • criggs says:

    There seems to be some major rights problem with these performances. RAI RAdio 3 scheduled a broadcast yesterday and, just minutes before the start of the performance, the stream abruptly cut away in mid-intro sentence to unannounced orchestra music for the remainder of the afternoon.

    Today Radio Clasica de Espana also had this scheduled. Here it is an hour and three-quarters into the program and still no sign of it.

    What’s going on? Are we ever going to hear this? I heard a good Pretti snippet from Poliuto a few years ago, so I was also looking forward to him as well. Not happy!