February 12, 2015

Valentine's Countdown: five classical albums for lovers

Opera's sultriest heroine, Carmen, sung by the ultimate tragedienne: Maria Callas.

L'amour est un oiseau rebelle...
Maria Callas never played Bizet's sultry gypsy heroine Carmen on stage, but her vocal interpretation, captured in the studio in 1964 with the Orchestre du Théâtre National de l'Opéra under the baton of her frequent collaborator Georges Prêtre, has become synonymous with the role.

No other singer has captured that heady blend of seduction, empowerment and just a hint of the coy that Callas poured into her habanera, and which led Gramophone critics of the day to declare: "Hers is a Carmen to haunt you." The ultimate tragedy, of course, is that Maria herself came synonymous with heartbreak of operatic proportions.

This Valentine's Day, we suggest enjoying Callas' faithful, reissued 3LP Carmen – a true collectors' edition – in the evening, with a glass of wine and the crackle of a fireplace blending with the luscious warmth of the vinyl. Sit back and let yourself be transported by the passion in this unparalleled voice.