Callas in "bondage"
PARIS, 13 February 1999- Alma Bond
is a retired psychoanalyst who has published several books, including
Who Killed Virginia Woolf? A Psychobiography. A long-term
admiration of the singer led to the writing of this book, which comes
with an encomium from John Ardoin, one of today's leading experts on
the subject of Maria Callas. And while we may admire some of the
analytic insights, too often the tone resembles a Harlequin Romance,
or Barbara Cartland.
Particularly distressing are the
consistently misspelled names, starting with Evangelika instead of
Evangelia for Callas's mother and continuing on to Lucino Visconti or
Nicola Rossi-Lemini or Lee Radziwell. There is also a carelessness
with respect to musical knowledge - whether it be the "majestic
finale" to Fidelio that turns out to be the soprano-tenor
duet, or "sing[ing] the Dance of the Seven Veils" from Salomé,
or referring to some of Verdi's soaring phrases as arias, such as "Amami
Alfredo" or "Vanne lasciami" - that the author might
excuse as her interpretation of a certain egotism, but surely any
editor receiving such a manuscript would have removed such flagrant
errors. We are never allowed to forget that the soprano is a hard
worker, but would she have ever talked about the "transformation
from a confused novice singer to a professional opera star"?
is difficult to see who might be interested in a psychoanalytic
approach, particularly as the subject has already been amply rehashed
in the many books that have been published by both friend and foe, and
while the title does carry the warning that this is a novel, many will
no doubt accept it as the truth. I particularly like the
self-advertising in the introduction where the Callas persona speaks
highly of the author's previous work on Virginia Woolf. This is one "autobiography"
in which the central figure pulls no punches and literally lets it all
hang out. For those who appreciate the genre, it's a good read that
might have been better with more serious editorial work.
Alma Bond: The Autobiography of Maria
Callas: A Novel.
Birch Brook Press.
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