* * * Maria Callas * * *
The greatest theatrical musical artist of our time.
— Sir David Webster, director, Covent Garden Opera House, 1964.
Indeed, some would say, of all time.
One of the greatest and most versatile operatic singers in recent history. She sang an incredible variety of roles; from Wagnerian to light coloratura; from high soprano to mezzo. But it is not just the range of roles she was capable of singing, but how she sang them that makes her special. She had a distinctive vocal timbre which she could colour in a seemingly infinite number of manners. She could also act, a rarity with opera singers still today. She was a joy to listen to and watch. True her voice was flawed, but her artistry was unmatched.
— Scott Eric Smith
Of Callas's artistic pre-eminence there can be no doubt. Among her contemporaries she had the deepest comprehension of the Classical Italian style, the most musical instincts and the most intelligent approach. There was authority in all that she did on the stage and in every phrase that she uttered... [N]umerous recordings, including many complete operas, remain to show that her technical defects were outweighed by her genius.
— Desmond Shawe-Taylor, New Grove Dictionary of Opera
Maria Callas was born in New York on 1923-12-04 (or 12-02) and died in Paris on 1977-09-16. Here is a biography by Coen Steegeling.
Anthony Tommasini: Maria Callas: A Voice and a Legend That Still Fascinate
Rodolfo Celletti: Callas: Arie da Opere
Michael White: Callas — A Life for Sale
An article about Maria Callas and the auction of her possessions in Paris in December 2000.
Operas Sung by Maria Callas — over forty of them.
There is a usenet group: alt.fan.maria-callas. In April 1996 a contributor to this newsgroup opined that Callas never sang the Wagnerian role of Brünnhilde, which elicited the following reply from email@example.com:
Callas did sing Brünnhilde .. in fact she was singing the role at the time [the Italian conductor] Serafin asked her to sing I Puritani [a Bellini opera] .... Carioso was scheduled to sing Elvira but got sick.... the story is that Serafin's wife heard Callas singing Qui la voce [an aria from I Puritani] and mentioned it to Serafin. He heard her sing it too, but said nothing. Then a few days later he woke her up after one of her Walküres and told her that he wanted her to replace Carioso.. she thought Serafin was crazy but was persuaded to do it ... Callas herself tells the story in an interview which has been recorded (might be available on CD) so she blew everybody's mind by singing Brünnhilde one day and then Elvira a few days later... the story is also mentioned in her biographies...
In February 1993 a contributor to alt.fan.maria-callas posted some interesting remarks about Callas in the role of Medea in Luigi Cherubini's opera of that name.
And in April 1996 another contributor wrote of her 1953 Tosca.
Yet more from alt.fan.maria-callas.
There used to be a mailing list for fans of Maria Callas, called La Divina. Here are some messages from this mailing list posted during April through September 1999.
Links to Maria Callas web pages.
A rewarding biography by Stelios Galatopoulos. Here is an extract from this book.
A copy of the entire Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM. Details here.
Recordings of Arias by Maria Callas (with index of composers) Maria Callas Picture Gallery Serendipity Home Page