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Raising voices in tribute to a fallen star
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The world was a stage for sensational soprano Maria Callas. Greece has commemorated Callas, who passed away in Paris in 1977, by declaring 2007 the Year of Callas and staging a number of events in her honor.

And since the Cultural Year of Greece in China will run from this October to September 2008, the Embassy of Greece in China and Beijing Music Festival will jointly present a concert dedicated to Callas tonight at Poly Theater.

The concert will feature the world-famous Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa and the acclaimed Greek tenor Angelo Simo. The Orchestra of China National Opera House will accompany the two vocalists under the baton of Greek conductor Nikos Athinaios.

Baltsa will perform famous arias by Verdi, Rossini, Mascani, Bizet and Puccini. She will sing three pieces of Santuzza, the leading role of Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana, the first opera Maria Callas performed as Santuzza in a student performance in 1938 and in 1944 in the National Opera of Greece.

Hailed by Herbert von Karajan as "the most important mezzo-soprano of our times", the 62-year-old Baltsa is one of the best mezzo-sopranos in the world today.

She started to play piano at the age of 6 and graduated from the Conservatory of Athens in 1965. That year, she won a Maria Callas scholarship, which enabled her to continue her studies in Munich. In 1968, she made her first appearance as Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart) at the Frankfurt Opera.

From then on, her career developed rapidly, and she went on to work with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Bavarian State Opera (Mnchen), Govent Garden, Zrich and the Paris Opera.

Under the guidance of Herbert von Karajan, she was a regular guest at the Salzburg Festival. Her repertory includes works by Mozart, Rossini, Mascagni and Verdi.

(China Daily September 27, 2007)

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