Maria Callas
Greek soprano
Maria Callas
Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and 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, to the music dramas of Wagner.
Biography
Maria Callas's personal information overview.
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Realising a vision - Gulf Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
And featured were the inventive and the creative: Bob Dylan, Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright and Martin Luther King. It was a statement of intent. He was going to make a computer business at home in this company: an icon,
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Metropolitan Opera's 2011-12 Season Opens With Anna Bolena 9/26 - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
... success when it premiered in 2009, has created a historically detailed setting for the opera, which re-emerged as a musical and dramatic showpiece for extraordinary sopranos when Maria Callas starred in the famous 1957 La Scala revival of the work
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Tyne Daly and Terrence McNally Talk Master Class on "Charlie Rose" (Video) - Playbill.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Here, Tony and Emmy Award winner Tyne Daly, who stars in the production as Maria Callas, and Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally discuss the play with Rose, which ends its Broadway run Sept. 4. Master Class plays at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman
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Defining the mystical gift of charisma - China Daily
Google News - over 5 years
On March 19, 1965, Maria Callas returned to the Metropolitan Opera after a seven-year absence. It was one of the most anticipated nights in Met history. The next day Harold Schonberg reported in The Times that Callas's first entrance set off a wave of
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A masterful look at Maria Callas at 2nd Story - Providence Journal
Google News - over 5 years
Gloria Crist as Maria Callas; in background, Jacqueline Pina as the second soprano, Sharon, in “Master Class” at 2nd Story Theatre. To some, Maria Callas was the last word in opera. But in Terrence McNally's loving, but unvarnished
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SNSD Yuri Evokes Classical Diva Maria Callas in Cosmopolitan Korea - Soompi
Google News - over 5 years
SNSD Yuri channels American-born Greek soprano and opera legend Maria Callas on a spread in Cosmopolitan Korea. The girl group member, who has been named as a “woman with superior genes,” shows off her charms evoking the romance and drama of a bygone
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A Gift From the Musical Gods - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
ON Friday, March 19, 1965, Maria Callas returned to the Metropolitan Opera after a seven-year absence. The work was Puccini's “Tosca”; it was one of the most anticipated nights in Met history. Maria Callas performing in “Tosca” at the
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Tribute to Maria Callas, 1977 - WNYC (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Tyne Daly appears in the Leonard Lopate Show this week to speak about her portrayal of legendary diva Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Tony award-winning “Master Class.” Listen to this George Jellinek tribute to Callas in the WQXR show The Vocal
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'Master Class': Putting on a class act - Metro.us
Google News - over 5 years
Terrence McNally's two-act play imagines one of the sessions taught by acclaimed operatic soprano Maria Callas at Juilliard in the 1970s — although this show is not based on a literal recount of those seminars. Instead, Tony- and Emmy-winner Tyne Daly
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Tyne Daly is breathtaking in bringing Maria Callas to life - NorthJersey.com
Google News - over 5 years
The moment that Tyne Daly enters the room as Maria Callas in the revival of Terrence McNally's stirring "Master Class" at the Friedman Theater, you know immediately she owns the role. Tyne Daly as 'Maria Callas' instructs 'Sharon
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CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; Broadway's Callas vs. Callas Herself
NYTimes - over 5 years
Terrence McNally's 1995 play, ''Master Class,'' was inspired by the now legendary master classes that Maria Callas gave during the 1971-72 academic year at the Juilliard School. There were 23 two-hour sessions in all, and Callas worked with 25 students whom she had selected after listening to some 300 young singers in auditions. But in the play,
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Broadway's Callas vs. Callas Herself - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
Left, Tyne Daly as Maria Callas in "Master Class"; Maria Callas in an undated photo. More Photos » By ANTHONY TOMMASINI Terrence McNally's 1995 play, “Master Class,” was inspired by the now legendary master classes that Maria Callas gave during the
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An evening with La Divina - The Economist (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Maria Callas could move an audience to weep by the second act. But her thrilling voice was controversial and short-lived. She performed her last opera in 1965, aged 41, and went on to teach at Julliard in the early 1970s—events that inspired Terrence
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Inside a Master Class: Breathe, Punctuate, Forget Led Zeppelin - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
IN the Terrence McNally play “Master Class,” the opera diva Maria Callas (played by Tyne Daly) understands pedagogy to mean wiping the floor with young students' ambitions. The actor Raúl Esparza, left, teaching a master class in New
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From 'Master Class' to La Scala, she walks the line - phillyBurbs.com
Google News - over 5 years
The icon is Maria Callas, the heroic, or perhaps not so heroic, central figure in Terrence McNally's “Master Class,” currently in revival at the Manhattan Theater Club. In the role of opera star, teacher at Julliard, wife and mistress, Daly captures
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Tyne Daly earns an A + in Broadway's 'Master Class' - Zap2it.com (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
To play Maria Callas requires someone with magnificent presence, and whose attitude reminds us that art is as vital to our existence as oxygen. The role requires an actress who can sing, own the stage and make us feel as if we are
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Curtain Down, Heads Up: Readers Review 'Master Class' - New York Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesTyne Daly as Maria Callas in the Broadway revival of “Master Class.” Terrence McNally's 1995 play “Master Class” imagines what happens when the opera diva Maria Callas leads an emotional master class ... - -
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Maria Callas
    CHILDHOOD
  • 1977
    Callas spent her last years living largely in isolation in Paris and died of a heart attack at age 53 on September 16, 1977.
    More Details Hide Details Heart failure is a possible outcome of dermatomyositis or side effect of the steroids and immunosuppressants which she took for the disease. Another explanation offered is that Callas's death was due to heart failure brought on by (possibly unintentional) overuse of Mandrax (methaqualone), a sleeping aid. A funerary liturgy was held at Agios Stephanos (St. Stephen's) Greek Orthodox Cathedral on rue Georges-Bizet, Paris, on September 20, 1977. She later was cremated at the Père Lachaise Cemetery and her ashes were placed in the columbarium there. After being stolen and later recovered, in the spring of 1979 they were scattered over the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Greece, according to her wish. During a 1978 interview, upon being asked "Was it worth it to Maria Callas? She was a lonely, unhappy, often difficult woman," music critic and Callas's friend John Ardoin replied: 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.
    Callas herself attributed her problems to a loss of confidence brought about by a loss of breath support, even though she does not make the connection between her weight and her breath support. In an April 1977 interview with journalist Philippe Caloni, she stated, My best recordings were made when I was skinny, and I say skinny, not slim, because I worked a lot and couldn't gain weight back; I became even too skinny...
    More Details Hide Details I had my greatest successes—Lucia, Sonnambula, Medea, Anna Bolena—when I was skinny as a nail. Even for my first time here in Paris in 1958 when the show was broadcast through Eurovision, I was skinny. Really skinny." And shortly before her death, Callas confided her own thoughts on her vocal problems to Peter Dragadze: I never lost my voice, but I lost strength in my diaphragm.... Because of those organic complaints, I lost my courage and boldness. My vocal cords were and still are in excellent condition, but my 'sound boxes' have not been working well even though I have been to all the doctors. The result was that I overstrained my voice, and that caused it to wobble. (Gente, October 1, 1977) Whether Callas's vocal decline was due to ill health, early menopause, over-use and abuse of her voice, loss of breath-support, loss of confidence, or weight loss will continue to be debated. Whatever the cause may have been, her singing career was effectively over by age 40, and even at the time of her death at age 53, according to Walter Legge, "she ought still to have been singing magnificently".
  • 1974
    Her final public performance was on November 11, 1974, in Sapporo, Japan.
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  • 1973
    Callas staged a series of joint recitals in Europe in 1973 and in the U.S., South Korea, and Japan in 1974 with the tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano.
    More Details Hide Details Critically, this was a musical disaster owing to both performers' worn-out voices. However, the tour was an enormous popular success. Audiences thronged to hear the two performers, who had so often appeared together in their prime.
  • 1971
    From October 1971 to March 1972, Callas gave a series of master classes at the Juilliard School in New York.
    More Details Hide Details These classes later formed the basis of Terrence McNally's 1995 play Master Class.
  • 1969
    In 1969, the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini cast Callas in her only non-operatic acting role, as the Greek mythological character of Medea, in his film by that name.
    More Details Hide Details The production was grueling, and according to the account in Ardoin's Callas, the Art and the Life, Callas is said to have fainted after a day of strenuous running back and forth on a mudflat in the sun. The film was not a commercial success, but as Callas's only film appearance, it documents her stage presence.
  • OTHER
  • 1968
    The relationship ended two years later in 1968, when Onassis left Callas in favor of Jacqueline Kennedy.
    More Details Hide Details However, the Onassis family's private secretary, Kiki, writes in her memoir that even while Aristotle was with Jackie, he frequently met up with Maria in Paris, where they resumed what had now become a clandestine affair.
  • 1966
    In 1966, Callas renounced her U.S. citizenship at the American Embassy in Paris, to facilitate the end of her marriage to Meneghini.
    More Details Hide Details This was because after her renunciation, she was only a Greek citizen, and under Greek law a Greek could only legally marry in a Greek Orthodox church. As she had married in a Roman Catholic church, this divorced her in every country except Italy. The renunciation also helped her finances, as she no longer had to pay US taxes on her income.
  • 1964
    A live television transmission of act 2 of the Covent Garden Tosca of 1964 was broadcast in Britain on February 9, 1964, giving a rare view of Callas in performance and, specifically, of her on-stage collaboration with Tito Gobbi.
    More Details Hide Details This has now been preserved on DVD.
    In her final years as a singer, she sang in Medea, Norma, and Tosca, most notably her Paris, New York, and London Toscas of January–February 1964, and her last performance on stage, on July 5, 1965, at Covent Garden.
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  • 1960
    According to one of her biographers, Nicholas Gage, Callas and Onassis had a child, a boy, who died hours after he was born on March 30, 1960.
    More Details Hide Details In his book about his wife, Meneghini states categorically that Maria Callas was unable to bear children. As well, various sources dismiss Gage's claim, as they note that the birth certificates Gage used to prove this "secret child" were issued in 1998, twenty-one years after Callas's death. Still other sources claim that Callas had at least one abortion while involved with Onassis.
  • 1959
    The affair that followed received much publicity in the popular press, and in November 1959, Callas left her husband.
    More Details Hide Details Michael Scott asserts that Onassis was not why Callas largely abandoned her career, but that he offered her a way out of a career that was made increasingly difficult by scandals and by vocal resources that were diminishing at an alarming rate. Franco Zeffirelli, on the other hand, recalls asking Callas in 1963 why she had not practiced her singing, and Callas responding that "I have been trying to fulfill my life as a woman."
    Despite this, Bing's admiration for Callas never wavered, and in September 1959, he sneaked into La Scala in order to listen to Callas record La Gioconda for EMI.
    More Details Hide Details Callas and Bing reconciled in the mid 1960s, and Callas returned to the Met for two performances of Tosca with her friend Tito Gobbi.
  • 1958
    Callas's relationship with La Scala had also started to become strained after the Edinburgh incident, and this effectively severed her major ties with her artistic home. Later in 1958, Callas and Rudolf Bing were in discussion about her season at the Met.
    More Details Hide Details She was scheduled to perform in Verdi's La traviata and in Macbeth, two very different operas which almost require totally different singers. Callas and the Met could not reach an agreement, and before the opening of Medea in Dallas, Bing sent a telegram to Callas terminating her contract. Headlines of "Bing Fires Callas" appeared in newspapers around the world. Nicola Rescigno later recalled, "That night, she came to the theater, looking like an empress: she wore an ermine thing that draped to the floor, and she had every piece of jewellery she ever owned. And she said, 'You all know what's happened. Tonight, for me, is a very difficult night, and I will need the help of every one of you.' Well, she proceeded to give a performance Medea that was historical." Bing later said that Callas was the most difficult artist he ever worked with, "because she was so much more intelligent. Other artists, you could get around. But Callas you could not get around. She knew exactly what she wanted, and why she wanted it."
    In January 1958, Callas was to open the Rome Opera House season with Norma, with Italy's president, Giovanni Gronchi, in attendance.
    More Details Hide Details The day before the opening night, Callas alerted the management that she was not well and that they should have a standby ready. She was told "No one can double Callas". After being treated by doctors, she felt better on the day of performance and decided to go ahead with the opera. A surviving bootleg recording of the first act reveals Callas sounding ill. Feeling that her voice was slipping away, she felt that she could not complete the performance, and consequently, she cancelled after the first act. She was accused of walking out on the president of Italy in a fit of temperament, and pandemonium broke out. Doctors confirmed that Maria had bronchitis and tracheitis, and the President's wife called to tell her they knew she was sick. However, they made no statements to the media, and the endless stream of press coverage aggravated the situation.
    She further consolidated this company's standing when, in 1958, she gave "a towering performance as Violetta in La traviata, and that same year, in her only American performances of Medea, gave an interpretation of the title role worthy of Euripides."
    More Details Hide Details In 1958, a feud with Rudolf Bing led to Callas's Metropolitan Opera contract being cancelled. Impresario Allen Oxenburg realised that this situation provided him with an opportunity for his own company, the American Opera Society, and he accordingly approached her with a contract to perform Imogene in Il pirata. She accepted and sang the role in a January 1959 performance that according to opera critic Allan Kozinn "quickly became legendary in operatic circles". Bing and Callas later reconciled their differences, and she returned to the house in 1965 to sing the title role in two performances as Tosca opposite Franco Corelli as Cavaradossi for one performance (March 19, 1965) and Richard Tucker (March 25, 1965) with Tito Gobbi as Scarpia for her final performances at the Met.
  • 1957
    In 1957, while still married to husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini, Callas was introduced to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis at a party given in her honor by Elsa Maxwell after a performance in Donizetti's Anna Bolena.
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    In 1957, Callas was starring as Amina in La sonnambula at the Edinburgh International Festival with the forces of La Scala.
    More Details Hide Details Her contract was for four performances, but due to the great success of the series, La Scala decided to put on a fifth performance. Callas told the La Scala officials that she was physically exhausted and that she had already committed to a previous engagement, a party thrown for her by her friend Elsa Maxwell in Venice. Despite this, La Scala announced a fifth performance, with Callas billed as Amina. Callas refused to stay and went on to Venice. Despite the fact that she had fulfilled her contract, she was accused of walking out on La Scala and the festival. La Scala officials did not defend Callas or inform the press that the additional performance was not approved by Callas. Renata Scotto took over the part, which was the start of her international career.
  • 1956
    The latter half of Callas's career was marked by a number of scandals. Following a performance of Madama Butterfly in Chicago in 1956, Callas was confronted by a process server who handed her papers about a lawsuit brought by Eddy Bagarozy, who claimed he was her agent.
    More Details Hide Details Callas was photographed with her mouth turned in a furious snarl. The photo was sent around the world and gave rise to the myth of Callas as a temperamental prima donna and a "Tigress". In the same year, just before her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, Time ran a damaging cover story about Callas, with special attention paid to her difficult relationship with her mother and some unpleasant exchanges between the two.
    Her Metropolitan Opera debut, opening the Met's seventy-second season on October 29, 1956, was again with Norma, but was preceded with an unflattering cover story in Time magazine, which rehashed all of the Callas clichés, including her temper, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and especially her difficult relationship with her mother.
    More Details Hide Details As she had done with Lyric Opera of Chicago, on November 21, 1957, Callas gave a concert to inaugurate what then was billed as the Dallas Civic Opera, and helped establish that company with her friends from Chicago, Lawrence Kelly and Nicola Rescigno.
    Callas's relationship with Evangelia continued to erode during the years in Greece, and in the prime of her career, it became a matter of great public interest, especially after a 1956 cover story in Time magazine which focused on this relationship and later, by Evangelia's book My Daughter – Maria Callas.
    More Details Hide Details In public, Callas blamed the strained relationship with Evangelia on her unhappy childhood spent singing and working at her mother's insistence, saying, My sister was slim and beautiful and friendly, and my mother always preferred her. I was the ugly duckling, fat and clumsy and unpopular. It is a cruel thing to make a child feel ugly and unwanted... I'll never forgive her for taking my childhood away. During all the years I should have been playing and growing up, I was singing or making money. Everything I did for them was mostly good and everything they did to me was mostly bad.
  • 1954
    He felt that her drastic weight loss in 1954 further contributed to reduced physical support of her voice.
    More Details Hide Details Fussi and Paolillo also examined restored footage of the infamous 1958 Norma "walkout" in Rome, which led to harsh criticism of Callas as a temperamental superstar. By applying spectrographic analysis to film from that night's performance, the researchers observed her voice was tired and she lacked control. She really did have the bronchitis and tracheitis she claimed, and the dermatomyositis was already causing her muscles to deteriorate.
    Many of her most critically acclaimed appearances are from the period 1954–1958 (Norma, La traviata, Sonnambula and Lucia of 1955, Anna Bolena of 1957, Medea of 1958, to name a few).
    More Details Hide Details Callas's close friend and colleague Tito Gobbi thought that her vocal problems all stemmed from her state of mind: I don't think anything happened to her voice. I think she only lost confidence. She was at the top of a career that a human being could desire, and she felt enormous responsibility. She was obliged to give her best every night, and maybe she felt she wasn't able any more, and she lost confidence. I think this was the beginning of the end of this career. In support of Gobbi's assertion, a bootleg recording of Callas rehearsing Beethoven's aria and parts of Verdi's La forza del destino shortly before her death shows her voice to be in much better shape than much of her 1960s recordings and far healthier than the 1970s concerts with Giuseppe Di Stefano. Soprano Renée Fleming has stated that videos of Callas in the late 1950s and early 1960s reveal a posture that betrays breath-support problems:
    There were others, however, who felt that the voice had benefitted from the weight loss. Of her performance of Norma in Chicago in 1954, Claudia Cassidy wrote that "there is a slight unsteadiness in some of the sustained upper notes, but to me her voice is more beautiful in color, more even through the range, than it used to be".
    More Details Hide Details And at her performance of the same opera in London in 1957 (her first performance at Covent Garden after the weight loss), critics again felt her voice had changed for the better, that it had now supposedly become a more precise instrument, with a new focus.
    Walter Legge, who produced nearly all of Callas's EMI/Angel recordings, states that Callas "ran into a patch of vocal difficulties as early as 1954": during the recording of La forza del destino, done immediately after the weight loss, the "wobble had become so pronounced" that he told Callas they "would have to give away seasickness pills with every side".
    More Details Hide Details
    In recordings from 1954 (immediately after her 80-pound weight loss) and thereafter, "not only would the instrument lose its warmth and become thin and acidulous, but the altitudinous passages would to her no longer come easily."
    More Details Hide Details It was at this time that unsteady top notes first begin to appear.
    Her debut in America was five years later in Chicago in 1954, and "with the Callas Norma, Lyric Opera of Chicago was born."
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    Callas was notably instrumental in arranging Franco Corelli's debut at La Scala in 1954, where he sang Licinio in Spontini's La vestale opposite Callas's Julia.
    More Details Hide Details The two had sung together for the first time the year previously in Rome in a production of Norma. Anthony Tommasini wrote that Corelli had "earned great respect from the fearsomely demanding Callas, who, in Mr Corelli, finally had someone with whom she could act." The two collaborated several more times at La Scala, singing opposite each other in productions of Fedora (1956), Il pirata (1958) and Poliuto (1960). Their partnership continued throughout the rest of Callas's career.
  • 1953
    Callas and the London public had what she herself called "a love affair", and she returned to the Royal Opera House in 1953, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1964 to 1965.
    More Details Hide Details It was at the Royal Opera House where, on July 5, 1965, Callas ended her stage career in the role of Tosca, in a production designed and mounted for her by Franco Zeffirelli and featuring her friend and colleague Tito Gobbi. In the early years of her career, Callas was a heavy woman; in her own words, "Heavy—one can say—yes I was; but I'm also a tall woman, 5' 8½" centimeters, and I used to weigh no more than 200 pounds kilograms."
  • 1952
    Of her December 1952 Lady Macbeth—coming after five years of singing the most strenuous dramatic soprano repertoire—Peter Dragadze wrote for Opera, "Callas's voice since last season has improved a great deal, the second passagio on the high B-natural and C has now completely cleared, giving her an equally colored scale from top to bottom."
    More Details Hide Details And of her performance of Medea a year later, John Ardoin writes, "The performance displays Callas in as secure and free a voice as she will be found at any point in her career. The many top B's have a brilliant ring, and she handles the treacherous tessitura like an eager thoroughbred."
    Callas in Norma in 1952 was a shock, a wonderful shock.
    More Details Hide Details You just got shivers up and down the spine. It was a bigger sound in those earlier performances, before she lost weight. I think she tried very hard to recreate the sort of "fatness" of the sound which she had when she was as fat as she was. But when she lost the weight, she couldn't seem to sustain the great sound that she had made, and the body seemed to be too frail to support that sound that she was making. Oh, but it was oh so exciting. It was thrilling. I don't think that anyone who heard Callas after 1955 really heard the Callas voice. Michael Scott has proposed that Callas's loss of strength and breath support was directly caused by her rapid and progressive weight loss, something that was noted even in her prime. Of her 1958 recital in Chicago, Robert Detmer wrote, "There were sounds fearfully uncontrolled, forced beyond the too-slim singer's present capacity to support or sustain."
    In 1952, she made her London debut at the Royal Opera House in Norma with veteran mezzo-soprano Ebe Stignani as Adalgisa, a performance which survives on record and also features the young Joan Sutherland in the small role of Clotilde.
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  • 1951
    However, as Callas's fame grew, and especially after her great success in I vespri siciliani in Florence, Ghiringhelli had to relent: Callas made her official debut at La Scala in Verdi's I vespri siciliani on opening night in December 1951, and this theatre became her artistic home throughout the 1950s.
    More Details Hide Details La Scala mounted many new productions specially for Callas by directors such as Herbert von Karajan, Margherita Wallmann, Franco Zeffirelli and, most importantly, Luchino Visconti. Visconti stated later that he began directing opera only because of Callas, and he directed her in lavish new productions of La vestale, La traviata, La sonnambula, Anna Bolena and Iphigénie en Tauride.
    In 1951, Tebaldi and Maria Callas were jointly booked for a vocal recital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
    More Details Hide Details Although the singers agreed that neither would perform encores, Tebaldi took two, and Callas was reportedly incensed. This incident began the rivalry, which reached a fever pitch in the mid-1950s, at times even engulfing the two women themselves, who were said by their more fanatical followers to have engaged in verbal barbs in each other's direction. Tebaldi was quoted as saying, "I have one thing that Callas doesn't have: a heart" while Callas was quoted in Time magazine as saying that comparing her with Tebaldi was like "comparing Champagne with Cognac. No, with Coca Cola." However, witnesses to the interview stated that Callas only said "champagne with cognac", and it was a bystander who quipped, "No, with Coca-Cola", but the Time reporter attributed the latter comment to Callas. According to John Ardoin, however, these two singers should never have been compared. Tebaldi was trained by Carmen Melis, a noted verismo specialist, and she was rooted in the early 20th century Italian school of singing just as firmly as Callas was rooted in 19th century bel canto. Callas was a dramatic soprano, whereas Tebaldi considered herself essentially a lyric soprano. Callas and Tebaldi generally sang a different repertoire: in the early years of her career, Callas concentrated on the heavy dramatic soprano roles and later in her career on the bel canto repertoire, whereas Tebaldi concentrated on late Verdi and verismo roles, where her limited upper extension and her lack of a florid technique were not issues.
    After her June 11, 1951, concert in Florence, Rock Ferris of Musical Courier said, "Her high E's and F's are taken full voice."
    More Details Hide Details Although no definite recording of Callas singing high F's has surfaced, the presumed E-natural at the end of Rossini's Armida—a poor-quality bootleg recording of uncertain pitch—has been referred to as a high F by Italian musicologists and critics Eugenio Gara and Rodolfo Celletti. Callas expert Dr. Robert Seletsky, however, stated that since the finale of Armida is in the key of E, the final note could not have been an F, as it would have been dissonant. Author Eve Ruggieri has referred to the penultimate note in "Mercè, dilette amiche" from the 1951 Florence performances of I vespri siciliani as a high F; however, this claim is refuted by John Ardoin's review of the live recording of the performance as well as by the review of the recording in Opera News, both of which refer to the note as a high E-natural. In a 1969 French television interview with Pierre Desgraupes on the program L'invitée du dimanche, Francesco Siciliani speaks of Callas's voice going to high F (he also talk about her lower register extending to C3), but within the same program, Callas's teacher, Elvira de Hidalgo, speaks of the voice soaring to a high E-natural but does not mention a high F; meanwhile, Callas herself remains silent on the subject, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with either claim.
    However, in his review of Callas's 1951 live recording of I vespri siciliani, Ira Siff writes, "Accepted wisdom tells us that Callas possessed, even early on, a flawed voice, unattractive by conventional standards—an instrument that signaled from the beginning vocal problems to come.
    More Details Hide Details Yet listen to her entrance in this performance and one encounters a rich, spinning sound, ravishing by any standard, capable of delicate dynamic nuance. High notes are free of wobble, chest tones unforced, and the middle register displays none of the "bottled" quality that became more and more pronounced as Callas matured." Nicola Rossi-Lemeni relates that Callas's mentor Tullio Serafin used to refer to her as "Una grande vociaccia"; he continues, "Vociaccia is a little bit pejorative—it means an ugly voice—but grande means a big voice, a great voice. A great ugly voice, in a way." Callas herself did not like the sound of her own voice; in one of her last interviews, answering whether or not she was able to listen to her own voice, she replies, Yes, but I don't like it. I have to do it, but I don't like it at all because I don't like the kind of voice I have. I really hate listening to myself! The first time I listened to a recording of my singing was when we were recording San Giovanni Battista by Stradella in a church in Perugia in 1949. They made me listen to the tape and I cried my eyes out. I wanted to stop everything, to give up singing... Also now even though I don't like my voice, I've become able to accept it and to be detached and objective about it so I can say, "Oh, that was really well sung," or "It was nearly perfect."
    Sir Rudolf Bing, who remembered Callas as being "monstrously fat" in 1951, stated that after the weight loss, Callas was an "astonishing, svelte, striking woman" who "showed none of the signs one usually finds in a fat woman who has lost weight: she looked as though she had been born to that slender and graceful figure, and had always moved with that elegance."
    More Details Hide Details Various rumors spread regarding her weight loss method; one had her swallowing a tapeworm, while Rome's Panatella Mills pasta company claimed she lost weight by eating their "physiologic pasta", prompting Callas to file a lawsuit. Callas stated that she lost the weight by eating a sensible low-calorie diet of mainly salads and chicken. Some believe that the loss of body mass made it more difficult for her to support her voice, triggering the vocal strain that became apparent later in the decade (see vocal decline), while others believed the weight loss effected a newfound softness and femininity in her voice, as well as a greater confidence as a person and performer. Tito Gobbi said, "Now she was not only supremely gifted both musically and dramatically—she was a beauty too. And her awareness of this invested with fresh magic every role she undertook. What it eventually did to her vocal and nervous stamina I am not prepared to say. I only assert that she blossomed into an artist unique in her generation and outstanding in the whole range of vocal history."
    Although by 1951, Callas had sung at all the major theatres in Italy, she had not yet made her official debut at Italy's most prestigious opera house, Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
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  • 1950
    According to composer Gian Carlo Menotti, Callas had substituted for Renata Tebaldi in the role of Aida in 1950, and La Scala's general manager, Antonio Ghiringhelli, had taken an immediate dislike to Callas.
    More Details Hide Details Menotti recalls that Ghiringhelli had promised him any singer he wanted for the premiere of The Consul, but when he suggested Callas, Ghiringhelli said that he would never have Callas at La Scala except as a guest artist.
  • 1949
    The night of the day she married Meneghini in Verona, she sailed for Argentina to sing at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires. Callas made her South American debut in Buenos Aires on May 20, 1949, during the European summer opera recess.
    More Details Hide Details Aida, Turandot and Norma roles were directed by Tullio Serafin, supported by Mario Del Monaco, Fedora Barbieri and Nicola Rossi-Lemeni. It was her only appearance on this world-renowned stage.
    The great turning point in Callas's career occurred in Venice in 1949.
    More Details Hide Details She was engaged to sing the role of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre at the Teatro la Fenice, when Margherita Carosio, who was engaged to sing Elvira in I puritani in the same theatre, fell ill. Unable to find a replacement for Carosio, Serafin told Callas that she would be singing Elvira in six days; when Callas protested that she not only did not know the role, but also had three more Brünnhildes to sing, he told her "I guarantee that you can." Michael Scott's words, "the notion of any one singer embracing music as divergent in its vocal demands as Wagner's Brünnhilde and Bellini's Elvira in the same career would have been cause enough for surprise; but to attempt to essay them both in the same season seemed like folie de grandeur". Before the performance actually took place, one incredulous critic snorted, "We hear that Serafin has agreed to conduct I puritani with a dramatic soprano... When can we expect a new edition of La traviata with baritone Gino Bechi's Violetta?" After the performance, one critic wrote, "Even the most sceptical had to acknowledge the miracle that Maria Callas accomplished... the flexibility of her limpid, beautifully poised voice, and her splendid high notes. Her interpretation also has a humanity, warmth and expressiveness that one would search for in vain in the fragile, pellucid coldness of other Elviras." Franco Zeffirelli recalled, "What she did in Venice was really incredible.
    Upon her arrival in Verona, Callas met, an older, wealthy industrialist, who began courting her. They married in 1949, and he assumed control of her career until 1959, when the marriage dissolved.
    More Details Hide Details It was Meneghini's love and support that gave Callas the time needed to establish herself in Italy, and throughout the prime of her career, she went by the name of Maria Meneghini Callas. After La Gioconda, Callas had no further offers, and when Serafin, looking for someone to sing Isolde, called on her, she told him that she already knew the score, even though she had looked at only the first act out of curiosity while at the conservatory. She sight-read the opera's second act for Serafin, who praised her for knowing the role so well, whereupon she admitted to having bluffed and having sight-read the music. Even more impressed, Serafin immediately cast her in the role. Serafin thereafter served as Callas's mentor and supporter. According to Lord Harewood, "Very few Italian conductors have had a more distinguished career than Tullio Serafin, and perhaps none, apart from Toscanini, more influence". In 1968, Callas recalled that working with Serafin was the "really lucky" opportunity of her career, because "he taught me that there must be an expression; that there must be a justification. He taught me the depth of music, the justification of music. That's where I really really drank all I could from this man".
  • 1946
    Louise Caselotti, who worked with Callas in 1946 and 1947, prior to her Italian debut, felt that it was not the heavy roles that hurt Callas's voice, but the lighter ones.
    More Details Hide Details Several singers have suggested that Callas's heavy use of the chest voice led to stridency and unsteadiness with the high notes. In his book, Callas's husband Meneghini wrote that Callas suffered an unusually early onset of menopause, which could have affected her voice. Soprano Carol Neblett once said, "A woman sings with her ovaries—you're only as good as your hormones." Critic Henry Pleasants has stated that it was a loss of physical strength and breath-support that led to Callas's vocal problems, saying, Singing, and especially opera singing, requires physical strength. Without it, the singer's respiratory functions can no longer support the steady emissions of breath essential to sustaining the production of focused tone. The breath escapes, but it is no longer the power behind the tone, or is only partially and intermittently. The result is a breathy sound—tolerable but hardly beautiful—when the singer sings lightly, and a voice spread and squally when under pressure.
    In 1946, Callas was engaged to re-open the opera house in Chicago as Turandot, but the company folded before opening.
    More Details Hide Details Basso Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, who also was to star in this opera, was aware that Tullio Serafin was looking for a dramatic soprano to cast as La Gioconda at the Arena di Verona. He later recalled the young Callas as being "amazing—so strong physically and spiritually; so certain of her future. I knew in a big outdoor theatre like Verona's, this girl, with her courage and huge voice, would make a tremendous impact." Subsequently he recommended Callas to retired tenor and impresario Giovanni Zenatello. During her audition, Zenatello became so excited that he jumped up and joined Callas in the act 4 duet. It was in this role that Callas made her Italian debut.
  • 1945
    After returning to the United States and reuniting with her father in September 1945, Callas made the round of auditions.
    More Details Hide Details In December of that year, she auditioned for Edward Johnson, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, and was favorably received: "Exceptional voice—ought to be heard very soon on stage". Callas maintained that the Met offered her Madama Butterfly and Fidelio, to be performed in Philadelphia and sung in English, both of which she declined, feeling she was too fat for Butterfly and did not like the idea of opera in English. Although no written evidence of this offer exists in the Met's records, in a 1958 interview with the New York Post, Johnson corroborated Callas's story: "We offered her a contract, but she didn't like it—because of the contract, not because of the roles. She was right in turning it down—it was frankly a beginner's contract."
    When she left Greece on September 14, 1945, two months short of her 22nd birthday, Callas had given 56 performances in seven operas and had appeared in around 20 recitals.
    More Details Hide Details Callas considered her Greek career as the foundation of her musical and dramatic upbringing, saying, "When I got to the big career, there were no surprises for me."
  • 1944
    During August and September 1944, Callas performed the role of Leonore in a Greek language production of Fidelio, again at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
    More Details Hide Details German critic Friedrich Herzog, who witnessed the performances, declared Leonore Callas's "greatest triumph": When Maria Kaloyeropoulou's Leonore let her soprano soar out radiantly in the untrammelled jubilation of the duet, she rose to the most sublime heights. Here she gave bud, blossom and fruit to that harmony of sound that also ennobled the art of the prima donne. After the liberation of Greece, de Hidalgo advised Callas to establish herself in Italy. Callas proceeded to give a series of concerts around Greece, and then, against her teacher's advice, she returned to America to see her father and to further pursue her career.
  • 1942
    Despite these hostilities, Callas managed to continue and made her debut in a leading role in August 1942 as Tosca, going on to sing the role of Marta in Eugen d'Albert's Tiefland at the Olympia Theatre.
    More Details Hide Details Callas's performance as Marta received glowing reviews. Critic Spanoudi declared Callas "an extremely dynamic artist possessing the rarest dramatic and musical gifts", and Vangelis Mangliveras evaluated Callas's performance for the weekly To Radiophonon: The singer who took the part of Marta, that new star in the Greek firmament, with a matchless depth of feeling, gave a theatrical interpretation well up to the standard of a tragic actress. About her exceptional voice with its astonishing natural fluency, I do not wish to add anything to the words of Alexandra Lalaouni: 'Kaloyeropoulou is one of those God-given talents that one can only marvel at.' Following these performances, even Callas's detractors began to refer to her as "The God-Given". Some time later, watching Callas rehearse Beethoven's Fidelio, erstwhile rival soprano Anna Remoundou asked a colleague, "Could it be that there is something divine and we haven't realized it?" Following Tiefland, Callas sang the role of Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana again and followed it with (Manolis Kalomiris) at the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre at the foot of the Acropolis.
  • 1941
    Callas made her professional debut in February 1941, in the small role of Beatrice in Franz von Suppé's Boccaccio.
    More Details Hide Details Soprano Galatea Amaxopoulou, who sang in the chorus, later recalled, "Even in rehearsal, Maria's fantastic performing ability had been obvious, and from then on, the others started trying ways of preventing her from appearing." Fellow singer Maria Alkeou similarly recalled that the established sopranos Nafsika Galanou and Anna (Zozó) Remmoundou "used to stand in the wings while Callas was singing and make remarks about her, muttering, laughing, and point their fingers at her".
  • 1939
    On April 2, 1939, Callas undertook the part of Santuzza in a student production of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana at the Olympia Theatre, and in the fall of the same year she enrolled at the Athens Conservatoire in Elvira de Hidalgo's class.
    More Details Hide Details In 1968, Callas told Lord Harewood, De Hildalgo had the real great training, maybe even the last real training of the real bel canto. As a young girl—thirteen years old—I was immediately thrown into her arms, meaning that I learned the secrets, the ways of this bel canto, which of course as you well know, is not just beautiful singing. It is a very hard training; it is a sort of a strait-jacket that you're supposed to put on, whether you like it or not. You have to learn to read, to write, to form your sentences, how far you can go, fall, hurt yourself, put yourself back on your feet continuously. De Hidalgo had one method, which was the real bel canto way, where no matter how heavy a voice, it should always be kept light, it should always be worked on in a flexible way, never to weigh it down. It is a method of keeping the voice light and flexible and pushing the instrument into a certain zone where it might not be too large in sound, but penetrating. And teaching the scales, trills, all the bel canto embellishments, which is a whole vast language of its own.
  • 1938
    On April 11, 1938, in her public debut, Callas ended the recital of Trivella's class at the Parnassos music hall with a duet from Tosca.
    More Details Hide Details Callas recalled that Trivella: had a French method, which was placing the voice in the nose, rather nasal... and I had the problem of not having low chest tones, which is essential in bel canto... And that's where I learned my chest tones. However, when interviewed by on the French program L'invitée du dimanche, Callas attributed the development of her chest voice not to Trivella, but to her next teacher, the Spanish coloratura soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. Callas studied with Trivella for two years before her mother secured another audition at the Athens Conservatoire with de Hidalgo. Callas auditioned with "Ocean, Thou Mighty Monster" from Weber's Oberon. De Hidalgo recalled hearing "tempestuous, extravagant cascades of sounds, as yet uncontrolled but full of drama and emotion". She agreed to take her as a pupil immediately, but Callas's mother asked de Hidalgo to wait for a year, as Callas would be graduating from the National Conservatoire and could begin working.
  • 1937
    In the summer of 1937, her mother visited Maria Trivella at the younger Greek National Conservatoire, asking her to take Mary, as she was then called, as a student for a modest fee.
    More Details Hide Details In 1957, Trivella recalled her impression of "Mary, a very plump young girl, wearing big glasses for her myopia": The tone of the voice was warm, lyrical, intense; it swirled and flared like a flame and filled the air with melodious reverberations like a carillon. It was by any standards an amazing phenomenon, or rather it was a great talent that needed control, technical training and strict discipline in order to shine with all its brilliance. Trivella agreed to tutor Callas completely, waiving her tuition fees, but no sooner had Callas started her formal lessons and vocal exercises than Trivella began to feel that Callas was not a contralto, as she had been told, but a dramatic soprano. Subsequently, they began working on raising the tessitura of her voice and to lighten its timbre. Trivella recalled Callas as:
    The marriage continued to deteriorate and in 1937 Evangelia decided to return to Athens with her two daughters.
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  • 1923
    According to her birth certificate, Maria Callas was born Sophia Cecelia Kalos at Flower Hospital (now the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center), at 1249 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, on December 2, 1923, to Greek parents George Kalogeropoulos (c. 1881-1972) and Evangelia "Litsa" (sometimes "Litza") Dimitriadou (c. 1894-1982), though she was christened Anna Maria Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou —the genitive of the patronymic Kalogeropoulos.
    More Details Hide Details Callas's father had shortened the surname Kalogeropoulos first to "Kalos" and subsequently to "Callas" in order to make it more manageable. George and Evangelia were an ill-matched couple from the beginning; he was easy-going and unambitious, with no interest in the arts, while his wife was vivacious and socially ambitious, and had held dreams of a life in the arts for herself, which her middle-class parents had stifled in her childhood and youth. Evangelia's father, Petros Dimitriadis (1852-1916), was in failing health when Evangelia introduced George to her family and Petros, distrustful of George, had warned his daughter, "You will never be happy with him. If you marry this man, I will never be able to help you". Evangelia had ignored his warning, but soon realized that her father was right. The situation was aggravated by George's philandering and was improved neither by the birth of a daughter, named Yakinthi (later called Jackie), in 1917 nor the birth of a son, named Vassilis, in 1920. Vassilis's death from meningitis in the summer of 1922 dealt another blow to the marriage. In 1923, after realizing that Evangelia was pregnant again, George made the unilateral decision to move his family to America, a decision which Yakinthi recalled was greeted with Evangelia "shouting hysterically" followed by George "slamming doors". The family left for New York in July 1923, moving first into an apartment in Astoria, Queens.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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