La Divina: Maria Callas, the Woman who changed Opera

Maria Callas - the woman who changed operaDuring her controversial career as the world’s most discussed operatic soprano, Maria Callas was adored and feted by thousands who believed her to be the century’s finest singing actress - La Divina.  Other opinions were expressed too; some disliked the imperfections in her voice and preferred performances by operatic rivals such as Renata Tebaldi and Victoria de los Angeles.

Hear and judge for yourselves.  My talk La Divina is illustrated with recordings that Callas made in her best singing years.  She portrays Tosca, the jealous mistress in Puccini’s opera; as Violetta in La Traviata she is a dying woman, who adores yet abandons her lover; in Bellini’s La Sonnambula, she despairs as a wronged village girl.  And in her private life she loves and is herself betrayed by the man she hopes to marry - Aristotle Onassis.

Maria Callas was not just an operatic phenomenon; she strived always for personal happiness, a goal that so frequently eluded her.




Facts about Maria Callas

  • Although of Greek parentage, Callas was born in New York City.
  • She specialised in roles in 19th century opera, some of which had not been performed for many years.
  • Callas’ marriage to wealthy Giovanni Meneghini ended after she met Aristotle Onassis on a cruise.
  • Always a favourite singer at Covent Garden, her last appearance there was at a Royal Gala performance in 1965.
  • After her stage career ended, she undertook a disastrous concert tour with tenor Giuseppe di Stefano.
  • In support of her friend, Elsa Maxwell once wrote ‘Nothing can destroy the supreme art of Callas’.