Divas of the opera come and go, but Maria Callas is forever. On the eve of the 100th anniversary of her birth to Greek immigrants living in Manhattan, and nearly a half century after her lonely death at 53, in Paris, Warner Classics is releasing La Divina: Maria Callas in all her roles (street date: September 22). What’s in the box? No fewer than 131 remastered CDs documenting the 74 characters in her repertoire of which audio documentation exists. At that, as diehards know, there are some lacunae (Wagner’s Brünnhilde, the heroine of Die Walküre, for one). Live performances from international opera houses and concert stages complement her vast discography from the studio. Her video legacy, amounting to a mere three DVDs, all superb, is here, likewise audio of the riveting Juilliard coaching sessions that inspired Terrence McNally’s Broadway hit Master Class. If you’ve already invested in Warner’s two sets of remastered Diviniana from the 2010s, know that this latest edition enlarges the corpus by three full-length operas, numerous recitals, and a smoking dress rehearsal. For splinters of the True Cross, though, turn straight to “Studio Alternate Takes,” a CD’s worth of never-before-released snippets from the cutting-room floor. “Ancor un’ altra?” Callas is heard asking after what turns out to have been a wrap. “Shall we have another one?” An off-mic voice demurs. “You mean it was good?,” La Divina persists. “Perfect? Harsh? Hmm. Are you sure, Walter? No, I mean you tell me. You mean you’re happy with this?” —Matthew Gurewitsch
La Divina: Maria Callas in all her roles includes material only available in the physical Warner Classics box set. Her official Warner Classics playlist can be found here.