Greek soprano Maria Callas (1923-1977) was one of the most popular opera singers of her generation. Also known as Diva, Sacred or Tiger, her repertoire has ranged from classical operas by artists like Verdi and Puccini to bel canto works by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. However, despite his enormous professional success, Callas’ life was plagued by strained family relationships and fierce business rivalries. The famous soprano, who spent the last years of her life away from the Paris Opera, died in 1977 of a heart attack. Let’s take a closer look at who is the most famous soprano of all time, Maria Callas.
Maria Callas was born in New York in 1923.
Her parents, George and Evangelia, were Greek immigrants who shortened their last name to Callas when Maria was baptized. Maria’s mother, Evangelia, was so convinced that her third child would be a boy, after two daughters, that she was so disappointed when Maria was born. She even refused to take care of her daughter for four days after giving birth.
Callas began taking piano lessons at the age of seven and quickly proved to his family how talented he was in music.
In 1937, his parents divorced. After that, he had to return to Athens with his sister and mother. Upon entering the Athens Conservatory there, Callas made his debut in the school opera Cavalleria Rusticana. Later, he took his first step in his career by taking a small role in the Royal Opera of Athens. Soon after, he took on a more significant role at Tosca Opera, where he received rave reviews.
Continuing to perform extensively in Greece after his opera Tosca, the famous artist gave 56 performances in 7 operas and participated in some 20 recitals when he left his country for America before his 22nd birthday. At this time he began to be known by the nickname “La Divina”, which means “the Holy One”.
Maria Callas returned to America in 1945 to audition for opera. He gave a phenomenal audition performance at the Metropolitan Opera, but because of a clause in his contract, he never took a part here.
Although he received an offer from another opera in 1946, the company closed before he could take up the stage. Finally, Maria Callas tried her luck at an audition in Arena di Verona, where she met the famous singer Giovanni Zenatello. Zenatello was so excited by Callas’ interpretation of the fourth act couplet that she jumped up from her seat and joined him. Thus began the successful career of Maria Callas.
He met his first wife, Meneghini, in Italy
Maria Callas met an older and wealthy industrialist, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, in Italy, whom they married in 1949. Meneghini took complete control of Callas’ career for 10 years until their marriage ended. In the process, Calas, who climbed the ladder of success step by step in his career, performed in many venues 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 singer in the 1950s.
While Callas’ fame was spreading around the world day by day, opera audiences began to call her Tiger and Diva. By the mid-1950s, there was a major rivalry between Callas and Italian soprano Renata Tebaldi. “I have something Callas does not have, the heart,” Tebaldi said in a statement. And Callas responded, “Comparing Champagne to Cognac… no no… comparing it to Coca-Cola.” It happened.
She was a fat woman when she started her career. Although he never worried about his weight, he was often pressured by his environment to lose weight.
Later, when she began to feel that she could not move comfortably on stage and got tired quickly, she decided to lose weight. The famous soprano, who lost nearly 80 kilograms between 1953 and 1954, achieved her “ideal” weight by eating tapeworm eggs, according to some, and through sports and nutrition, according to others.
As he got older, the quality of his voice decreased. Colleagues thought it was due to the heavy roles he took on early in his career, while others said his weight loss had an effect on his voice.
His wife, Meneghini, said the change in voice was due to the onset of menopause. However, a 2010 study revealed that Callas was suffering from dermatomyositis at the time of his death, which led to deterioration of muscles and ligaments, including those in the larynx.
In 1957, while still married to Mengeni, she began a new relationship with 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 movie “Medea”, but she never sang
In 1969, at the insistence of his old friend, Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, he played the main role in the film Medea. Maria Callas, who had played Medea dozens of times on opera stages before, did not sing in any scene of this first and only feature film. Most of the movie, which is based on legendary events, was shot in Goreme National Historical Park. The shootings were covered extensively in the domestic and foreign press at the time.
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 Basilica of Saint Stephen in Paris, but due to his will, they were later scattered in the Aegean Sea.
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