A famous backstage photo was taken in Chicago after one of just three performances that Callas gave of Madama Butterfly; it shows the soprano in her Japanese costume, snarling furiously at a bailiff who had served a writ on her - the very image of the tempestuous diva. By contrast, in her recording of the role, 'it is, miraculously,' as the critic John Osborne observed, 'the 15-year old girl and not the great Callas who stands before us.' Her genius for vocal characterization finds an apt complement in Herbert von Karajan's conducting: 'a wholly sympathetic rendering [that]brings out more of the detail of the score than I have ever heard before', wrote Gramophone.
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