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Maria Callas was a Greek soprano who was born in America. In the twentieth century, she was among the most influential and renowned opera singer. Numerous critics acclaimed her wide-ranging voice, bel canto technique, and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire extended from bel canto operas of Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini to classical opera series and further, to Puccini and Verdi; and in her early profession to the Wagner’s music dramas. Even though her tragedy and dramatic life could have overshadowed her art in popular media, her successes were such that Leonard Bernstein termed her the bible of opera. Her impact was so persistent that Opera News wrote that she is the definition of a diva and the best-selling classical music vocalist in 2006 (Driscoll and Kellow). Her dramatic and musical aptitudes made her La Divina.
Born to Greek migrant parents in New York City in 1923, Callas was brought up by an overbearing mother who wanted a son. She had her musical studies in Greece at 13 and later developed her profession in Italy. She was not only forced to give her attention to the exigencies of 1940s wartime insufficiency and myopia but also scandals and struggles over her career. She transformed herself from a weighty lady into a glamorous and svelte one after a mid-career ex-obese. Perhaps this transformation could have declined her vocals and most significantly, the premature termination of her profession.
Her bel canto operas were characterized by a beautiful melodic voice that was due to a sensitive musical background of “singable” and poetic lyrics. Bel canto musical approach produced the desired legato in the entire vocal range. Ideally, in bel canto operas, she was not supposed to shift gears as she moves her voice from low to high registers. She also executed embellishments effortlessly in all manners hence a better decoration of vocal lines. The implementation of lighter yet all-pervading sound in her higher register was vital. For instance, her 1953 “Lucia,” was not just the best recording but a breakthrough on the discography of opera. La Sonnambula is still ear-piercing especially through surface noise.
In August 1947, she made her Italian Debut, a La Gioconda performance, at the Verona Arena. She was under the management of her husband as she grew her career in Verona and Florence over the years. Her fame rose not only as a result of her talent but also her character as she was fiercely resilient and temperamental, which got her the nickname Tigress. Callas’ American debut was in Norma at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She sang in the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1956 though she got fired in 1958.
At the end of this decade, her marriage came to an end as she divorced with her husband because of an affair she had with a shipping magnate. It was the start of the downfall in her musical career. She retired formally in the ‘60s but made a brief return mid-decade and performed in the Metropolitan Opera. At the Covent Garden in London Tosca, she was in attendance was Queen Mother Elizabeth (Maria Callas Biography). July 5, 1965, marked her last performance. She has a title role in the film Medea. Throughout her profession, she was renowned for the instinctive intelligence, brilliant dramatic presence, and masculinity she brought to her roles.
Driscoll, Paul, and Kellow Brian. "The 25 Most Powerful Names In U.S. Opera > Opera News > The Met Opera Guild". Operanews.Com, 2006, https://www.operanews.com/Opera_News_Magazine/2006/8/Features/The_25_Most_Powerful_Names_in_U_S__Opera.html. Accessed 6 Dec 2018.
“Maria Callas Biography.” The Biography.com website, 2014, https://www.biography.com/people/maria-callas-9235435. Accessed 6 Dec 2018.
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