CULTURE

Soprano Cheryl Studer in Maria Callas tribute

A celebrated soprano pays homage to a great diva at the Herod Atticus Theater tomorrow, as American Cheryl Studer takes the stage in a concert «In Memory of Maria Callas.» Organized by the Athenaeum International Arts Center each year on this day – Callas died on September 16, 1977, in Paris, while this year marks 80 years since her birth – tomorrow’s concert is dedicated to lieder. Accompanied by renowned pianist Charles Spencer, Studer will interpret works by Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Samuel Barber and Giuseppe Verdi’s chamber music compositions. Born in Michigan in 1955, Studer began studying piano and viola at a very young age. After coming across a Callas recording at the age of 12, her goals were set: She was going to be an opera singer. She started voice lessons soon afterward. In the mid-1970s, her vocal gifts caught the attention of Leonard Bernstein, who offered her a three-year summer scholarship at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. Making her debut at Tanglewood in 1976 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Bach’s «St Matthew Passion,» under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, the prominent maestro invited her to join the orchestra for a series of concerts. In the summer of 1979, Studer arrived in Europe to attend a course on lied for foreign students. One of her teachers, baritone Hans Hotter, convinced her to remain in Europe, and study with him in Vienna. A year later, she became a permanent member of the Bavarian State Opera, while in 1984 the rising star joined the Deutsche Oper ensemble. The following year, she sang the role of Elisabeth in «Tannhauser,» under Giuseppe Sinopoli at the prestigious Bayreuth Festival. Following the Bayreuth appearance, Studer’s career took off and she debuted at the world’s most prestigious opera houses. A plethora of recordings followed. Her sensational rise, however, was brought to a halt in the early 1990s: Over-worked and exhausted, Studer’s voice faltered. Contracts were canceled and she was dismissed from a number of productions. Determined to regain her voice, the soprano worked hard, finally making her well-earned comeback in 1999. Since then, she has made memorable appearances around the world. «In Memory of Maria Callas,» at the Herod Atticus Theater tomorrow at 8.30. p.m. For tickets, Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou, tel 210.323.2771; and Hellenic Festival box office, 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.322.1459.