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Image for Maria Callas: A Centennial Celebration
Maria Callas: A Centennial Celebration
Dayton Opera

Giuseppe Verdi “Tacea la notte placida . . . Di tale amore” from Il Trovatore

Murrella Parton, soprano

Gaetano Donizetti “Regnava nel silenzio . . . Quanto rapito in estasi” from Lucia di Lammermoor

Heather Phillips, soprano

Georges Bizet “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” from Carmen

Sarah Saturnino, mezzo-soprano

Giacomo Puccini “Un bel di” from Madama Butterfly

Toni Marie Palmertree, soprano

Gaetano Donizetti “Piangete voi . . . Al dolce guidami” from Anna Bolena

Murrella Parton

Vincenzo Bellini “Qui la voce . . . Vien, diletto” from I Puritani

Heather Phillips

Camille Saint-Saëns “Amour! Viens aider ma faiblesse” from Samson et Delilah

Sarah Saturnino

Giuseppe Verdi “Tu che le vanità” from Don Carlo

Toni Marie Palmertree


Giuseppe Verdi "Sempre libera" from La traviata

Heather Phillips

Giuseppe Verdi “O don fatale” from Don Carlo

Sarah Saturnino

Giacomo Puccini “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca

Toni Marie Palmertree

Giuseppe Verdi “Teneste la promessa . . . Addio del passato” from La traviata

Murrella Parton

Pietro Mascagni “Voi lo sapete, o mamma” from Cavalleria Rusticana

Sarah Saturnino

Vincenzo Bellini “Ah, non credea mirarti... Ah! Non giunge” from La sonnambula

Heather Phillips

Vincenzo Bellini “Casta diva” from Norma

Murrella Parton

Ruggero Leoncavallo “Qual fiamma avea nel quardo! . . . Stridono lassù” from Pagliacci

Toni Marie Palmertree

Giacomo Puccini “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi


Encore (Sing-along)

O mio babbino caro,
mi piace, è bello, bello,
Vo' andare in Porta Rossa
a comperar l'anello!

Sì, sì, ci voglio andare!
E se l'amassi indarno,
andrei sul Ponte Vecchio,
ma per buttarmi in Arno!

Mi struggo e mi tormento!
O Dio, vorrei morir!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!
Babbo, pietà, pietà!

About the Concert

Dayton Opera celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Maria Callas with a concert of some of the diva’s most famous arias. Considered by many to be the greatest opera singer of all time, Callas could sing the entire soprano range, from mezzo soprano to high coloratura soprano. Brilliant, beautiful, and unequalled, “La Divina” — the divine one, as she was called, performed widely varying roles with unparalleled dramatic expression and authenticity.  The program, reflecting this versatility in musicianship, artistry, and repertoire will be sung by four of opera’s rising young stars, as they pay homage to the renowned prima donna.

Music Director and Pianist
Artistic Director
A Note from the Artistic Director

Why Maria Callas?

Maria Callas was the epitome of an opera star, and when I discovered this year was the Centenary of her birth, it struck me that she should be the “star” for this year’s Opera Star Recital. Although her tumultuous life was filled with both triumph and tragedy, I chose to focus on the gift of her astonishing artistry for this Celebration.

Maria Callas (1923–1977) is considered by many to be the greatest opera singer of the 20th century. She was born in New York, the daughter of Greek immigrants. At the age of fourteen she and her mother moved to Greece where her vocal talent was nurtured. She soon made her professional operatic debut (at the age of fifteen) and by the time of her retirement, she had sung over six hundred performances of more than forty different roles in many of the world’s greatest opera houses. She recorded over twenty complete operas. These recordings have become classics and continue to be popular today. Those of us who never saw her live are most grateful for this treasure trove!

Callas was nicknamed “La Divina” (the divine one, or goddess), and with reason. A perfectionist with a storied work ethic, she possessed an extraordinary technical virtuosity which, when allied to her unsurpassed dramatic expression made her performances riveting. Her vocal agility led to a revival of bel canto works by Bellini and Donizetti that had been forgotten.

She also had a wide vocal range. Sopranos are categorized as coloratura, lyric, and dramatic, and Callas could sing roles written for all of these and even roles usually performed by mezzo-sopranos. This gave me the idea of hiring four “rising stars” of different vocal types to sing her most famous arias. I reached out to Howard Watkins and invited him to be the collaborative pianist and to serve as music director, helping me to choose the repertoire and shape the program.

Howard has collaborated with some of the world’s greatest singers and his knowledge and expertise are incomparable…we are so fortunate to have him with us for this concert. Just as Callas was guided and shaped in her interpretations in her work with the great conductors of her day, our rising stars have an exemplary musical artist in Dr. Watkins as their music director and pianist for this concert.

I had always admired Callas as a singer, but spending this past year preparing for this concert, I’ve become a devoted fan. Her voice wasn’t always beautiful, but it was vital, thrilling, and passionate. I cannot start one of her recordings as “background music” and do something else…she compels me to stop and listen…she draws me in.

The four singers you will hear on this concert are keepers of this flame. All four are exceptional musicians, with unique voices, and prodigious technical skill. With them, we celebrate the artistry of La Divina, knowing her legacy will live on for another hundred years.

Take Note

Artistic Director Kathleen Clawson presents Take Note, a live pre-concert talk given from the stage in the Schuster Center, beginning at 1:30pm. Learn about this afternoon's program before the performance begins!

Help Us Advocate for the Arts!

You may know Culture Works here in Dayton as the organization that fundraises for the arts. The other important thing they gather is data. Data allows them to advocate for the entire arts community here when they talk to both government and businesses about the value of the Dayton Arts Community. Culture Works is working with Americans for the Arts right now, along with nearly 400 other communities across the US, to determine the ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE ARTS in the Dayton Region. 

 At this afternoon's performance, please take a few minutes to complete this brief anonymous survey. We thank you so much for taking the time to help us collect this important information.

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