Maria Ewing Essentials

Maria Ewing Essentials

Maria Ewing was one of the great operatic stars of the 20th century. And as with her appearances on opera and concert stages around the world, she brought that same passion and intensity to her recordings. Her voice—described as being like a vintage Burgundy or spun gold—combined with an uncanny musical versatility that saw her champion many different genres of music, from Broadway to Baroque to Mozart and Ravel. It made her impossible to pigeonhole, which explains her wish for her epitaph simply to state “Maria Ewing—singer.” (She died on January 9, 2022, at age 71.) Her performance of Ravel’s Shéhérazade bursts with erotic charge, while her Mélisande in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, the role in which she made her European debut at La Scala in 1977, is undeniably sensuous. And as Katerina in Shostakovich’s tragic Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Ewing brought a rare depth of character and vocal expression. That vocal tone and instinct for character made her Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni one of the most compelling, and even if Ewing’s voice may not immediately have seemed suited to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, its richness proved mesmerizing in her staggering performance of “When I Am Laid In Earth.”

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