Maria Callas was one of the most accomplished of musicians, and not only among singers. Everything she did had purpose and precision. The respect she earned among instrumental musicians and conductors for her ability to bring a musical score to life has no parallel
She is mostly called La Divina and she has been awarded as the greatest opera singer in the world. Maria Callas was born in 1923 in New York to Greek parents. In 1937, her family moved to Athens and she attended music courses in the Conservatory of Athens. Soon, her teachers appreciated her warm and heavy voice. After some performances in the Greek National Opera, she moved to Italy and started to perform in La Scala di Milan. Her career reached its peak in the 1950s and then it decreased, either from a vocal decline or because she wanted to focus on her personal life, which was marked by an unlucky marriage, a devastating affair to Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis and loneliness.
Is Maria Callas the best opera singer ever?
She was certainly one of the greats. There was also more than one Callas. There was fat Callas who was one of the supreme coloratura sopranos of all time including heart-stoppingly huge notes above high C, who could sing Wagner and turn around and sing Bellini within days. She was certainly one of the two or three greatest interpreters of music ever. To many ears, she did not possess the most beautiful voices around, and after she lost 80 pounds this became more and more the case. On the other hand, after she lost weight she became a much more vivid actress… certainly one of the most supreme actresses to ever be on stage. There were four roles she totally owned…. more so than anyone else: Tosca, Norma, Armida and Medea.
“Maria Callas had everything: looks, temperament, plus a charisma, and a girlish, shy quality that came through the tigress”
Maria Callas probably brought more to opera than any other singer ever did. Her dedication alone to perfection and hard work is a signature to her commitment to the art.
The Callas sound
Callas’s voice was and remains controversial; it bothered and disturbed as many as it thrilled and inspired. Walter Legge stated that Callas possessed that most essential ingredient for a great singer: an instantly recognizable voice. Callas’s voice has been difficult to place in the modern vocal classification or Fach system, especially since in her prime, her repertoire contained the heaviest dramatic soprano roles as well as roles usually undertaken by the highest, lightest and most agile coloratura sopranos.
Was she blessed with the most beautiful set of pipes? Even she herself will tell you “no”.
But as anyone who knows the first thing about opera will tell you, there is much more to opera than a beautiful voice. And Callas had everything else, looks, temperament, plus a charisma, and a girlish, shy quality that came through the tigress. She exuded sadness and loneliness as well.
Maria Callas was unique. There will never be another like La Divina. She holds the title.