Midnight Lightning is a posthumous ninth studio album by Jimi Hendrix, released in November 1975. It was the sixth Hendrix studio album released after his death and the second to be produced by Alan Douglas. The songs used on the album consisted of post-Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings that originally featured Billy Cox on bass and either Mitch Mitchell or Buddy Miles on drums.
"Bel raggio lusinghier" from Rossini's Semiramide opens this program, and it naturally invites comparison with the performance of the same aria from Milan in 1956. At this point in her career, it probably was not wise for Callas to attempt this aria, and the same could be said about the Cenerentola "Nacqui all'affanno" that follows it. Her voice has thinned out in its upper register, the high notes are undependable, and overall, there is less flexibility. Still, her ability to execute Rossini's florid coloratura with precision remains thrillingly intact. On the other hand, the aria from Nabucco is even more exciting than it was in Rome in 1952, mostly because Callas pounces on it without a trace of fear. (Pity about the last note, though.) Arias from La bohème (Musetta's Waltz Song!), Butterfly (the death scene, searingly sung), and Gianni schicchi are performed with variable vocal success, but it is in the Letter Aria from Werther that Callas shows where her career could have taken her. Charlotte is a mezzo role, of course, and it provides her with vocal and dramatic challenges that she was very capable of overcoming even at this late date. The Table Aria from Manon also is very movingly done. Georges Prêtre conducts the Orchestre National de la RTF. The sound here is excellent. An odd bonus of sorts is a private recording of most of Beethoven's "Ah! perfido," with Jeffrey Tate accompanying Callas on the piano. This item comes from the unbelievably late date of March 3, 1976 – less than two years before her death. The sound here is far from ideal, but one can hear enough of Callas to tell that the voice is more or less intact – much better than it was, in fact, during her 1973-74 concerts with Giuseppe di Stefano. What role did flagging self-confidence play in the decline of Callas' voice? It is sad to think that if Callas had received appropriate medical or psychological interventions, her career (and her life) might have been considerably longer.