The Greek soprano Maria Callas (1923–1977) was one of the most famous opera singers of her generation. Also known as the Diva, the Sacred or the Tiger, her repertoire ranged from classical operas by artists such as Verdi and Puccini to bel canto works by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. However, despite his enormous professional success, Callas’ life was filled with strained family relationships and fierce business competition. The famous soprano, who spent the last years of her life away from the opera in Paris, died in 1977 of a heart attack. Let’s take a closer look at who the most famous soprano of all time, Maria Callas, is.
Maria Callas was born in New York in 1923.
Her parents, George and Evangelia, were immigrants from Greece who, after Mary’s baptism, shortened their surname to Callas. Mary’s mother, Evangelia, was so convinced that her third child would be a boy after two daughters that she was very disappointed when Mary was born. She even refused to care for her daughter for four days after the birth.
Kallas began taking piano lessons at the age of 7 and quickly proved to his family how talented he was in music.
In 1937 his parents separated. After that, he had to return to Athens with his sister and mother. Entering the Athens Conservatory there, Kallas performed for the first time in the school opera Cavalleria Rusticana. He later took his first step in his professional career with a small role at the Royal Opera House in Athens. Shortly thereafter, he landed a much more important role in Tosca, where he received glowing reviews.
Continuing to perform intensively in Greece after the opera Tosca, the famous artist gave 56 performances in 7 operas and took part in about 20 solo concerts when he left his country and went to America shortly before his 22nd birthday. It was during this time that he became known by the nickname “La Divina”, which means “The Saint”.
Maria Callas returned to America in 1945 to audition for the opera. He performed brilliantly at an audition at the Metropolitan Opera, but due to a clause in the contract, he did not take a single role here.
Although he received an offer from another opera in 1946, the company was closed before he could take the stage. Finally, Maria Callas tried her luck at an audition at the Arena di Verona, where she met the famous tenor Giovanni Zenatello. Zenatello was so excited about Callas’ interpretation of the duet in Act 4 that he jumped up from his seat and joined him. Thus began the successful career of Maria Callas.
He met his first wife Meneghini in Italy.
Maria Callas met in Italy an elderly wealthy industrialist, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, and married in 1949. Meneghini had complete control over Callas’ career for 10 years until their marriage fell apart. In this process, Callas, who climbed the ladder of success step by step in his career, performed in many places from Turin to Florence, from Buenos Aires to Mexico City. With her powerful and theatrical soprano voice, she made her debut in England in 1952 and in America in 1954, and was very popular in both countries.
She began to gain fame as a diva in the 1950s.
While the fame of Callas spread throughout the world day by day, opera audiences began to call her the Tiger and the Diva. By the mid-1950s, a strong rivalry allegedly developed between Callas and the Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi. “I have something that Kallas does not have – a heart,” Tebaldi said. and Callas replied, “Comparing champagne to cognac… No, no… comparing it to Coca-Cola.” occurred.
When she started her career, she was an overweight woman. Although he never worried about his weight, his environment often forced him to lose weight.
Later, when she began to feel that she could not move comfortably on stage and tired quickly, she decided to lose weight. The famous soprano, who lost almost 80 kilograms between 1953 and 1954, reached her “ideal” weight by eating tapeworm eggs, according to some, and through sports and proper nutrition, according to others.
As he got older, the quality of his voice deteriorated. Colleagues thought it was due to the heavy roles he took on early in his career, while others said his weight loss affected his voice.
His wife Meneghini said the change in voice was due to early menopause. However, a 2010 study showed that Callas suffered from dermatomyositis at the time of her death, which led to deterioration of the muscles and ligaments, including in the larynx.
In 1957, while still married to Meneghini, she began a new relationship with the Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis.
In 1959, he left his Italian wife, Giovanni Battista Meneghini. Onassis and Callas’ relationship also ended in 1968 when Onassis left Callas for Jacqueline Kennedy.
She starred in the film “Medea”, but never sang
In 1969, at the urging of his old friend, the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, he played the title role in the film Medea. Maria Callas, who had previously played the role of Medea dozens of times on opera stages, did not sing in any scene of this first and only feature film. Much of the filming of the film, which is based on mythological events, took place in the historic Göreme National Park. The executions were widely covered at that time in the domestic and foreign press.
Maria Callas, who spent the last years of her life in Paris, died in 1977 of a heart attack.
His ashes were first buried in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Stephen in Paris, but at his will were later scattered in the Aegean.
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