In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
This volatile opera diva was born in New York City to Greek emigres in 1923. Her father set up a pharmacy and changed the family name from Kalogeropoulos to Callas. As a child Maria studied the piano. When her parents separated (she was 14 at the time), her mother returned to Athens with Maria and her sister. The budding singer was quickly accepted into the National Conservatoire where she was taught singing lessons by Maria Trivella. She performed her first recital within the year and in 1939 won a prize for her stage debut in the Conservatoire's production of "Cavalleria Rusticana." In 1941, the soprano dramatico d'agilita made her professional debut in "Boccaccio" with the Lyric Theatre Company. While there she made a semi-name for herself with performances of "Tosca" and "Fidelio." Impending war led her back to the United States in 1944 where she reclaimed the name of Maria Callas.
She was offered a contract from the Met which she turned down because among the three roles she was offered to sing there was Butterfly and she believed that she was too obese to sing the fragile 14 year-old Butterfly, her friends considered her to be crazy turning down the Pet while she was so unknown. Maria performed elsewhere (Chicago, etc.) before returning to Europe in the post-war years where she met Giovanni Battista Meneghini, a wealthy industrialist and avid opera fan. They married in 1949 and he immediately took control of her career.
She reached her zenith at La Scala (1951-1958), also recording during that time. In 1956, she finally made her debut at the Met as "Norma" with performances of "Tosca" and "Lucia" following. Within a couple of years her temperamental outbursts and excessive demands began to rise full force, resulting in a number of dismissals and walkouts. After meeting Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis through her husband, a torrid affair erupted and her marriage ended. Maria gave up the stage in the early 1960s for the jet-set life with Onassis, but continued with occasional concerts. Despite experiencing vocal problems, she made one unforgettable comeback on stage in 1964-1965 when she toured with her personal favorites ("Norma" in Paris and "Tosca" at the Met). Weak and tired, her final curtain on stage rang down in July of 1965 in Covent Garden. With her career over, she renounced her American citizenship and expected to marry Onassis. But their relationship was a stormy one and it eventually tapered off with Onassis instead marrying Jacqueline Kennedy in 1968. Maria was completely devastated and those around her say she never recovered.
The following year she filmed an unsuccessful production of Medea (1969) and eventually set up master classes at Juilliard. In one last comeback, she attempted a European tour of recitals but her voice completely failed her. Her last public performance was on November 11, 1975. Riddled by sadness and despair, and by now firmly addicted to sleeping pills, Maria turned reclusive in her last year and died of a heart attack in 1977 at age 53. Despite a career that flourished less than two decades, Callas must be respected as one of the more important and recognizable opera legends. She was certainly one of the most emotive and visually dramatic. What also carries her today is, of course, her grandly turbulent and tragic image -- an Edith Piaf of opera.
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Review: Maria Callas was a New York-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the twentieth century. 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; 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 as La Divina.These two collections feature celebrated arias as interpreted by Maria Callas, arguably the most influential singer of the recorded era. In addition to a brief biography of Callas, each selection, in standard voice and piano format, is followed by notes which indicate the variants, breaths, fermatas, and all of the nuances that Callas employed to turn these arias into masterpieces of interpretation. A wonderful reference tool for vocal coaches, professional singers and voice students, these two books are also indispensible items for the libraries of all opera enthusiasts.
Review: This video captures a pair of performances from the revered opera diva Maria Callas. Her authoritative voice delivers work by beloved composers Verdi, Puccini, and Bizet, at Covent Gardens, one of the most famous opera venues in the world. The concerts date from 1962 and 1964.
Review: The documentary portrait Biography: Maria Callas travels into the stormy and colorful personal life of Callas, the woman regarded by many as the single most accomplished diva of the 20th century. From her birth in the United States to her adolescence in Greece and early professional accomplishments in Western Europe, Callas accomplished an overwhelming amount despite numerous personal hardships that included a tumultuous romance with (and divorce from) Aristotle Onassis, extensive vocal difficulties, and ongoing contractual disputes with the Metropolitan Opera. Nevertheless, her reputation persisted. This program draws from extensive archival footage and interviews to tell Callas's incredible story.
Review: Within her lifetime and posthumously, opera diva Maria Callas's astonishing musical and cultural legacy far outstripped the woman herself; Callas transcended the elite appeal of her musical genre and inspired numerous motion pictures, a stage musical, and an opera based on her life - meanwhile obtaining a rare and unique degree of success that enabled her to dramatically expand the audience size (and demographics) of the opera fanbase. Callas also honed and sustained a reputation as one of the earliest harbingers of intense and histrionic dramatic portrayals on the opera stage. The classical compilation Eternal Maria Callas brings into one collection a series of Callas's most memorable and acclaimed performances, from such productions as Il Trovatore, Tosca and Manon, coupled with a documentary segment on her life, a gallery of Callas photographs, and a series of revealing interviews with Callas conducted by Lord Harewood.
Review: Maria Callas returned to the stage in 1971 to teach master classes at Juilliard. This intriguing forum later inspired Terrence McNally's acclaimed play Master Class. Outspoken and uncompromising in her artistic beliefs, Callas worked through her legendary arias from Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini, and others. John Ardoin brilliantly captures the insights of a thoughtful singer who reveals herself to be not the imperious diva of her reputation, but a supremely self-aware artist concerned with passing along a great musical tradition.