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ABOUT THE DIVINA

MARIA CALLAS

Biography

Maria Callas is widely recognized as the foremost Opera icon of the 20th century, renowned for her unmatched interpretations and techniques. She is an esteemed international figure who has united Greeks and members of the Greek diaspora alike, as well as those with a passion for or an interest in discovering Greece. Callas, with her exceptional musical education and interpretive prowess, revolutionized opera singing so much that we now distinguish between a time before and after her. Many of her interpretations are considered unrepeatable, making it impossible to deny the overwhelming allure of her charisma.

Μαρία Κάλλας

What I consider and call my first career is the one in Athens, during the war... This was where I practiced, got my stage experiences...

Maria Callas

Life Milestones

1923
1923
On 2 December, 1923, Anna Maria Sophia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou was born in Manhattan, New York.
1937
1937
Her parents divorced, and her mother, Maria, and her sister returned to Athens. In the summer of the same year, Maria began her studies at the National Conservatory under Maria Trivella.
1939
1939
She commenced her studies at the Athens Conservatory under the tutelage of Elvira de Hidalgo.
1941
1941
First appearance in Franz von Suppé's Boccaccio operetta.
1942
1942
On 27 August 1942, she took her first leading role as Tosca again in Puccini's renowned opera.
1945
1945
On 14 September, 1945, she left Greece to participate in opera performances in America but also to reconnect with her father.
In December 1945, she respectfully turned down a proposal from Edward Johnson, the director of the Metropolitan Opera of New York. She held the belief that her physique was not ideal for the part of Madame Butterfly and, furthermore, declined to perform the opera in English, as was requested of her.
1947
1947
Her international career was launched with a performance in Ponchielli's Gioconda.
1949
1949
She married Giovanni Battista Meneghini.
1950
1950
She replaced Renata Tebaldi in the role of Aida at La Scala (Milan), when the latter fell ill.
1951
1951
On 7 December, 1951, she made her official debut at La Scala in Milan, where she presented Verdi's I Vespri Siciliani.
1952 - 1956
1952 - 1956
In the 1950s, she graced some of the world's most prestigious stages, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Paris Opera. Her powerful and captivating performances left audiences in awe and cemented her place among the greatest vocalists of her time.
1957
1957
On 5 August, 1957, she appeared at the Athens Festival amid political disputes, the main issue being the level of her remuneration.
In the same year, Callas met Aristotle Onassis at a party with whom she lived a stormy love affair.
1958
1958
On 2 January, 1958, Maria Callas departed from the Opera of Rome during the initial act of Bellini's Norma, citing an illness. Her unexpected departure sparked intense reactions and rumours of her being ill-tempered, with the Italian audience heavily denouncing her at the time.
1959
1959
She left Meneghini, but their marriage legally ended in 1966 when she renounced her US citizenship.
1960
1960
On 24 August, 1960, the renowned performer graced the stage of Epidaurus to deliver a captivating rendition of Norma. As she sang the iconic piece ``Casta Diva``, the orchestra released two white pigeons, eliciting a sensational response from the audience, who was left in awe of the stunning display.
1961
1961
On 6 August, 1961, she returned to Epidaurus, receiving a well-deserved standing ovation from a crowd of 17,000 spectators. The reason behind this immense appreciation was her stunning performance of Cherubini's opera Médée.
1964
1964
Callas’ last performance in Greece at the Lefkas International Folklore Festival. She was invited to appear on stage while on vacation with Aristotle Onassis on nearby Scorpios Island.
1965
1965
The renowned singer faced a challenging time due to constant weight fluctuations, which affected her personal, emotional, and health well-being immensely. Consequently, her voice encountered insurmountable problems that made it impossible for her to continue performing. Her last appearance was at Covent Garden, where she delivered a stunning performance of Zeffirelli's Tosca. After this final performance, she decided to take a break from singing in public for the next eight years.
1968
1968
Aristotle Onassis abandoned her to marry Jackie Kennedy.
1969
1969
The renowned Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini and Callas established a close friendship, eventually leading to their collaborative effort in bringing Euripides' Medea to the big screen. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the film was met with commercial failure, much to their dismay.
1971
1971
She started delivering classes at Julliard School, New York.
1973
1973
In partnership with her trusted colleague, the esteemed tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano, she set out on a worldwide farewell tour. However, it did not come close to matching the grandeur of her past performances.
1974
1974
On 11 December, 1974, she made her last public appearance in Sapporo, Japan.
1975
1975
The death of Aristotle Onassis on March 15, as well as the murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini on 2 November of the same year, dealt the final blow to an already grieving Callas, isolated in her apartment in Paris, with the sole company of her housekeeper and good friend Bruna Lupoli, and her butler, Ferruccio Mezzadri.
1977
1977
On 16 September, 1977, Maria Callas, at the age of 53, breathed her last after suffering a heart attack in Paris, wishing for her body to be cremated and her ashes to be scattered in the Aegean Sea.

Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00-18:00
Friday: 10:00-21:00

MITROPOLEOS 44, 105 63 ATHENS – GREECE
info@mariacallasmuseum.gr
+30 210 44 04 204


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