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Friday, September 16, 2011

Maria Callas - La Divina - The Legend - The Woman

Maria Callas as Medea

On 16 September 1977,  the world farewelled one of the most exceptional opera singers ever and  Greece one of her most gifted children of the diaspora...

Maria Callas died, of heartbreak some say, leaving behind her a legend. To this day, so many years later, that legend has remained undiminished. 

Maria Callas, the woman who gave the world the definition for DIVA...

Maria Callas - La Divina - the Divine One...

Maria Callas - Golden Global Greek...

Our father's great love for this brilliant performer meant that we grew up with Maria Callas... not literally of course, and when Callas passed away we felt like we had lost a member of our family. As we had most of her recordings in our record collection, Norma, Tosca, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Aida, Carmen and others, we would often sit with our father in our 'saloni', the visitor's room, where our stereo was and listen to that magnificent voice flood the room, transporting us to La Scala, Covent Garden or Epidaurus...   That room was always our father's refuge and his record collection his great joy. 


Whenever we heard Maria Callas' voice we knew he was sad, mad or just nostalgic for Greece, the homeland he would never see again...

You can hear some of his favourite and some of her most famous pieces, by clicking on video widget 'Maria Callas - The Collection' in the sidebar on the right hand side of the blog.

I remember reading everything about her that I could, and Arianna Huffington's (then Stassinopoulos) biography of her, Maria Callas - The Woman Behind the Legend, was fascinating indeed although I later learned that it was also controversial. Maria Callas' life and especially her love for another legendary Global Greek, Aristotle Onassis, meant that her life often gave the tabloids and the gossip columnists a great deal of material to work with. 

I also remember the trail of goose bumps I got when I visited Verona's Arena, the site of Callas' debut at the Verona Opera Festival in 1947, the city where she lived with her mentor and husband,Giovanni Battista Meneghini. The same feeling that I got at Milan's La Scala - the legendary Opera House where she gave some of her finest performances.


 Milan's Legendary La Scala Opera House

Earlier this year, the Athens Concert Hall hosted an exhibition  in collaboration with La Scala, of rare and magnificent costumes worn by Maria Callas in her great operatic roles.

Our photos taken at that exhibition are our tribute to the brilliant, determined and very talented Global Greek woman who was Maria Callas on this special day... a woman who was a citizen of the world, but didn't hesitate to say in an interview in Greek when she visited in August 1957, to sing at the Athens Festival at the Herodus Atticus Theatre...


'I especially belong to the Greek people,  I may have married an Italian, the whole world may have bestowed honours upon me, but my blood is Greek, and no-one can erase that' 




Hear Maria Callas' interview, in Greek, below ... and then check out the beautiful costumes from her legendary performances in the pictures which follow.

Maria Callas and Christos Lambrakis



















The Athens Megaron celebrating its 20th birthday 
pays tribute to Maria Callas

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