(December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977)
Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century- and all time.
She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and great mesmerising dramatic gifts. Maria's talents almost knew no limits- an extremely versatile singer, her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria, to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini.
She also triumphed in the works of Verdi and Puccini and in her early career, she easily coped with the music epic dramas of Wagner. Her remarkable musical and theatrical gifts led to her being hailed as "La Divina".
Her amazing gifts onstage were mesmerising- earning her the reputation of being "opera's Sarah Bernhardt- but her career was marred with an aggressive press; huge demands on her and illness leading to frequent cancellations.
A famous falling out with the Metropolitan's Rudolph Bing led to a lack of performances in the USA for some years. Her private life was also tumultuous – a famous rift with her mother and a marriage to an old industrialist Menaghini followed by a divorce and then long term affair with Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis was the stuff the tabloids loved.
When he passed her over to marry Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of President John Kennedy, her humiliation was complete. A short comeback tour with her long term performing partner, Giuseppe di Stefano was cancelled due to serious vocal problems adding to her troubles.
In a life that mirrored her art, Maria Callas died of heart failure alone in her Parisienne apartment in 1977. To this day she remains today the epitome of the title "Prima Donna" and her vast recorded legacy is that which all artists are frequently measured by.
Pictured, Maria and Tito Gobbi as Scarpia in the London production of Tosca in 1964 under conductor Carlo Felice Cilario.
Maria Callas is one of the featured stars on our "Legends" product range.