In 2012 the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland was bequeathed a collection of national significance relating to the world of opera in the form of the research archive of John Steane.
Opera critic, writer, historian and researcher, Steane was a world authority on opera in the twentieth century and wrote and published extensively on the subject.
Thanks to the generosity of a financial sponsor, the entire contents of Steane’s library were able to be professionally boxed up and shipped to Glasgow for sorting and arranging into their archival and library collections.
Chief among Steane’s interests were the opera stars of the twentieth century, from the earliest part of the century to his contemporaries. His three volume work Singers of the Century gave the definitive biographical and performance histories of the divas and divos of the age, many of whom have become household names.
In 2015 the Archives & Collections mounted an exhibition based on materials from the Steane Archive, including twenty archivally framed, hand-signed photographs of opera stars whom Steane admired. Here we have just one of them; the American-born Greek soprano Maria Callas (1923-1977).
In this image Callas is performing the role of Cio-Cio san, the title role in Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly.
The photograph is undated, but is thought to be from her 1955 performance in Chicago’s Civic Opera House.
A studio recording of Callas as Cio-Cio san was released by EMI earlier that same year, conducted by Herbert von Karajan.