Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Divine voices of Umm Kulthum, Maria Callas and Lata Mangeshkar bring cinema to their lives.

Umm Kulthum (Arabic: أم كلثوم; Egyptian Arabic: Om Kalsoum; the name is spelled variously using the Roman alphabet as Om Koultoum, Om Kalthoum, Oum Kalsoum, Oum Kalthum, Omm Kolsoum, Umm Kolthoum, Um Kalthoom, Omme Kolsoum, and others). Born أم كلثوم إبراهيم البلتاجي Umm Kulthum Ebrahim Elbeltagi; see Kunya. (May 4, 1904 – February 3, 1975) was an Egyptian singer, songwriter, and actress. Born in El Senbellawein, she is known as "the Star of the East" (kawkab el-sharq). More than three decades after her death, she is still recognized as one of Egypt's most famous and distinguished singers of the 20th century.

Tala Mangesker
Lata Mangeshkar (Hindi: born September 28, 1929) is a singer from India. She is one of the most well-known playback singers in the Indian Hindi movie industry. Mangeshkar's career started in 1942 and has spanned over six decades. She has done playback singing for over 980 Hindi (or "Bollywood") movies, and has sung songs in over twenty regional Indian languages, primarily Marathi. She is the elder sister of the equally accomplished singer, Asha Bhosle.

Lata is the second vocalist to receive "Bharat Ratna", India's highest civilian honour.

Mangeshkar was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records from 1974 to 1991 for "most recordings" in the world. The claim was that she has reportedly recorded no less than 25,000 solo, duet and chorus-backed songs in 20 Indian languages between 1948 to 1974 (30,000 songs between 1948 and 1987, according to 1987 edition). During the years, several sources have supported the claim, although other reputed sources have raised concerns for its veracity, claiming that the number of songs was highly exaggerated, and Mangeshkar's sister, Asha Bhosle, has recorded more songs than her.

Maria Callas ) (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977) was an American-born Greek soprano and perhaps the most renowned opera singer of 1950's. She combined an impressive bel canto technique with great dramatic gifts. An extremely versatile singer, her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini, and Rossini, and further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini, and in her early career, the music dramas of Wagner. Her remarkable musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed La Divina.

Born in New York and raised by an overbearing mother, she received her musical education in Greece and established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of wartime poverty and with myopia that left her nearly blind on stage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. She turned herself from a heavy woman into a glamorous one after a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career. The press exulted in publicizing Callas's allegedly temperamental behavior, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi, and her love affair with Aristotle Onassis. Her dramatic life and personal tragedy have often overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press. Her artistic achievements, however, were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "The Bible of opera",[1] and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her, "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists.