Maria Callas internationally known as the Opera Diva and “the Bible of opera” was born on 2nd December of 1923 in New York.
The ultimate Greek soprano and undoubtedly one of the most influential opera singers of the 20th century managed to divide the history of opera into the pre and after Callas period! Her temperamental behaviour and dramatic life often rivaled her talent in terms of interest.
Her mother’s rejection during her childhood along with her rather heavy appearance marked her path in life. She often said: “I was only loved when singing“. Her need to go beyond her talent’s boundaries and win her audience’s appreciation led her on a forlorn top.
One of her most important roles, according to her, was Norma of Vincenzo Bellini. She first sang it on 27th October 1956 at the New York Metropolitan Opera. Obviously touched by the heroine’s sacrifice and tragic love she transferred the suffering of the character she was playing and made her Casta Diva one of her most important performances. Nobody could then have said that among those listening to her colossal voice was her greatest love, shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Their introduction at a party in 1957, soon led to one of the most famous love affairs of all times that did however end in an unhappy way.
In 1965 she performs Norma again but this time her most beloved heroine marks the end of her career. Her voice after constant struggling of its capacities and heavy roles undertaken at a very early stage lets her down. It was this last failure that made her live largely in isolation in her Parisian flat where she finally died of heart attack at the age of 53 on 16th September 1977.
John Ardoin, music critic and Calla’s friend was asked in 1978: “Was it worth it to be Maria Callas? She was a lonely, unhappy, often difficult woman.” His answer was: “That is such a difficult question. There are times when certain people are blessed—and cursed—with an extraordinary gift, in which the gift is almost greater than the human being. Callas was one of these people. It was as if her own wishes, her life, her own happiness were all subservient to this incredible, incredible gift that she was given, this gift that reached out and taught us things about music that we knew very well, but showed us new things, things we never thought about, new possibilities. I think that is why singers admire her so. I think that’s why conductors admire her so. I know it’s why I admire her so. And she paid a tremendously difficult and expensive price for this career. I don’t think she always understood what she did or why she did it. She usually had a tremendous effect on audiences and on people. But it was not something she could always live with gracefully or happily. I once said to her “It must be a very enviable thing to be Maria Callas.” And she said, “No, it’s a very terrible thing to be Maria Callas, because it’s a question of trying to understand something you can never really understand.” She couldn’t really explain what she did. It was all done by instinct. It was something embedded deep within her.“
Her legendary personality, work, life story and miraculous voice will always be of inspiration and keep a place in Greeks’ hearts.