The Life and Career of Maria Callas

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Maria Callas: The Life and Career of an Iconic Opera Musician

Maria Callas was an American opera musician who was born on 2nd December 1923 in New York City. She was born as Cecilia Sophia Anna Maria Kalogeropoulos; a daughter to George and Evangelia who shortened their names to Callas during her christening. Her family was of Greek heritage. However, her date of birth is contradictory as Maria, and her school records claim she was born on 3rd and her parents claimed she was born on 4th. Though the attending nurse and her birth certificate indicate, she was born on 2nd.

Early Musical Education and Career Beginnings

At an early age of 7, she began taking her classical piano classes seriously and yet she was being dominated by Jackie, her elder sister who was deemed as charismatic and beautiful. Maria demonstrated adroit in music singing with a melodramatic flair and her mamma motivated her to pursue a vocal profession. When she was an adolescent, 1937, her parents parted ways, and she moved back to Athens in Greece together with her sister and mother (Biography). She joined a famed conservatory known as Elvira de Hidalgo to study voice. She made her first stage debut as a student in 1939 for Cavalleria Rusticana, a school production. The conservatory honored her for her outstanding concert in Santuzza.

International Fame and Personal Struggles

Maria Callas was renowned internationally as she captivated her audiences with iconic performances. She made her professional debut in 1941 in Boccaccio with Athens' Royal Opera as a meek protagonist in Franz von Suppé's Boccaccio. She took her first main role in Tosca later that year. Her professional path was full of challenges as during the Second World War she struggled to find roles and could not get any thus making her move to New York where she spent time with her father while seeking for employment. Later on, she relocated to Verona where she met Giovanni Meneghini, a rich capitalist whom she got married to in 1949.

Career Achievements and Decline

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 voice 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 with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1956 though she got fired in 1958.

Personal Life and Legacy

At the end of this decade, her marriage came to an end as she split with her husband because of an affair she had with a shipping magnate. The divorce and the aftermath brought much sadness to Maria and 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 with the Metropolitan Opera. At the Covent Garden in London Tosca, she was in attendance was Queen Mother Elizabeth. July 5, 1965, marked her last performance. She as a title role in the film Medea.

Final Years and Legacy

Maria tried teaching in '71 and '72 at Juilliard in New York and conducted master classes. Despite her illness, she made a tour with a friend to fund his sick daughter in 1973. She passed away on 16th September 1977 at the age of 55 years. Her death was sudden and mysterious but was believed to be caused by a heart attack.

Work Cited

Biography. “Maria Callas Biography.” The website, 2014, Accessed 6 Dec 2018.

October 05, 2023


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