Biography of María Callas (1923-1977)

American soprano, born in New York (United States of America) on December 2, 1923, and died in Paris (France) on September 16, 1977. Although his real name was Maria Anna Sophie Cecilia Kalogeropoulos, it reached universal fame by her stage name of Maria Callas. It was a diva early, famous both for the qualities of his voice their overwhelming personality and his turbulent sentimental, full life of Splendors and failures that agigantaron its myth.

María Callas.

He was born in a humble family of Greek immigrants, formed by Georges Kalogeropoulos pharmacist and his wife Evangelia Dimitriadis, who had come to Long Island (New York) in August 1923, a few months before the birth of the future diva. After many hardships during a first phase of adaptation, in 1929 Georges Kalogeropoulos was able to open a pharmacy in Manhattan and changed the family name in the way Callas, more in keeping with the English now speaking his own.

The small Maria since she showed a special predisposition for music and singing, so that in 1932, when even he had not complied with the ten years, began to receive their first piano lessons. The life of the Callas seemed to have been channelled towards serenity and economic well-being; but soon arose disagreements at the heart of the marriage, which ended up separating and place, thereby giving new monetary difficulties.

So things, Evangelia Dimitriadis returned to Greece in 1937, and took with him his two daughters. To return to the country of his ancestors, the young Mary recovered officially surname Kalogeropoulos, and as such signed up at the Athens Conservatory, where he had the fortune of having teachers like Maria Triviella and the Spanish Elvira de Hidalgo (1891-1980). Despite having not reached even sixteen years old - age minimum to confirm the entered at the centro de estudios musicales-, the young Maria was admitted exceptionally by its excellent qualities for the singing, that allowed him to debut in its first concert, still accompanied by other students, in April 1938.

A year later, it confirmed good expectations in his fledgling career to get for the first time on a stage Opera, having won an award that credited it as the best student in his class. In this debut, which took place at Royal Theater in Athens on April 2, 1939, she played the role of Santuzza, character from Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945) Italian.

It was not, however, still a professional soprano, category which had not reached when, the following year, sang fragments of the merchant of Venice, of Rabaud (1873-1949), on the Athenian stage, other members of the company accompanying Lyric Theatre. But already in 1941 she was hired as a professional for the company, which performed the role of Beatriz in Boccaccio, and, few months later, that of the protagonist of Tosca, Giaccomo Puccini (1858-1924). Since then, this opera - who played for the first time in Greek the following year - would be one of the most prominent in his repertoire.

On the occasion of the second World War (1939-1945), he left Greece in 1945 and returned to the United States of America, where, after eight years of separation, was reunited with his father. To finance the trip, offered his first solo recital in Athens.

Arriving in New York, he returned to take the surname of Callas and was presented at the Metropolitan Opera House, where he was offered a contract, which she refused. He then sang in Chicago and, already with some international prestige in his budding operatic career, in 1947 travelled to Europe to interpret, in Verona (Italy), La Gioconda, Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-1886), work which was acclaimed by public and critics. Tullio Serafin, director of this production, took over from then on of the Callas's career.

In that same year of 1947, Maria Callas met Giovanni Battista Meneghin, a rich industrial lover of the opera which, in 1949, was to become her first husband. Meneghin, who shared the work of agent of his wife, with Tullio Serafin was thirty years older than her, so the diva biographers have interpreted this union, which lasted for ten years, as an attempt to recover by the Callas, that father figure he had moved away due to rupture of family.

The truth is that, during the decade spent beside Meneghin, his popular fame and his reputation among the toughest musicologists grew so much as your checking account. Maria Callas sang in the 1950s, in the most important operatic forums around the world (London, Milan, Paris, Rome, New York...), embedded in a vortex of stardom and notoriety that allowed him to mingle with the celebrities of film, art, politics and finance. He frequently attended parties of Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), Gregory Peck (1916-2003) and Marlene Dietrich (1901-1922), that tolerated it despite their proven lack of diplomacy and its already proverbial inelegancia began collecting loving between men renowned in the world of the spectacle, as the filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli (1923) -, or coworkers and relatives of theirs, as the tenor Franco Corelli (1921-2003).

In 1957, in the course of a feast of high society held in Venice, Maria Callas met the Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis (1906-1975). Shortly after, his popularity began to decrease, mainly due to the scandals that began to lead because of its controversial and rugged character. Thus, on January 2, 1958 he left the stage of the Opera of Rome, in the middle of a concert, citing a dubious malaise, and without taking into account their crowd was the cream of the Roman high society, with the President of the Italian Republic at the head. Since then, much of the criticism began to judge her harshly, that not prevented him from starring in another scandal, in May of that year, at la Scala in Milan. However, after a few months it was fascinated by the Parisian public with a splendid concert attended by Aristóteles Onassis, ever more present in the daily routine of the diva.

Finally, in 1959, Maria Callas ended her marriage with Giovanni B. Meneghin and began a passionate relationship with Onassis. Little by little, it was away from the scenarios to surrender fully to the life of luxuries and comforts her new lover, he provided although it occasionally dare to offer any performance - thus, v. gr., in 1964, when, animated by Franco Zeffirelli, returned to provide a memorable Tosca at Covent Garden, London; or the following year, when he repeated this work in Paris and New York, cities where returned to leave an eloquent testimony of his greatness as a soprano.

In the midst of the surprises that was accustomed to starring, in 1966, renounced his U.S. citizenship and adopted the Greek citizenship, which everyone believed that her marriage to Onassis was imminent. But wealthy owner - who, after having left pregnant diva, had forced it to abort, which plunged into a deep depression that only knew how to fight with an inappropriate excess of tranquilizers the Callas - said he was weary of his company and, after rejecting it, contracted marriage in 1968 with Jacqueline Kennedy (1929-1994), widow of the late US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963).

After this hard loving failure, which never arrived to recover, Maria Callas attempted to rebuild his career, looking for new outlets which do forget the public neglect that had been relegating him from the beginning of his relationship with Onassis. Thus, in 1969, he played the role of Medea in a film by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), Italian direct work that did not have any success. and between 1971 and 1972 he settled again in New York to teach singing at the reputed Juliard School of Music. There he was reunited with an old friend, the tenor Giuseppe di Stefano, who convinced her to undertake, together, a tour of charity recitals all over the world.

This tour, which started in Hamburg (Germany) on October 25, 1973 and ended on November 11, 1974, in Sapporo (Japan) was the last work that would be Maria Callas. Practically held, from then on, in his luxurious Parisian apartment (located in the Avenue Georges Mandel, now renamed as "Avenida de María Callas"), he fell into a spiral of loneliness and despondency, badly fought with an excess of alcohol and antidepressants, precipitated his premature demise.

Indeed, one of the last days of the summer of 1977 was found on the floor by his faithful servant, who told a physician who could only certify the death of diva with urgency. Officially, his death was due to a fulminant heart failure; but the truth is that the circumstances that had unleashed so virulent attack, or were not clarified if it had been natural or induced. At the express wish of Maria Callas, his mortal remains were incinerated and their ashes thrown into the Aegean Sea.

Internet links.

http://www.opera.it/Cantanti/Callas.html; María Callas online page.