Today, December 2nd 2013 marks the 90th birthday of the incomparable Maria Callas.
Born Cecilia Sophia Anna Maria Kalogeropoulou in New York on December 2nd in 1934, she moved to Greece, her ancestral home at the age of 14 and entered the Athens Conservatory in 1940. In 1942 she sang Tosca in Athens and after several more roles in Greece, returned to New York with her parents in 1945.
Callas made her La Scala debut as Aida in 1950; and at Covent Garden in 1952, the Lyric Theatre of Chicago in 1954 and at the Metropolitan in 1956, as Norma. She began to sing heavier roles like Aida, Turandot, Isolde, Kundry and Brünnhilde but after filling in for an indisposed colleague as Elvira in the florid bel canto I puritani, she began to concentrate on this style, for which she became best known. She performed the roles of Norma. Medea, Anne Boleyn, Lucia, and Amina, as well as Verdi’s Leonora (Il trovatore), Violetta and Gilda, and Puccini’s Tosca, to high acclaim.
Her voice began to decline in the 1960s and her final operatic appearance was in 1965 as Tosca at Covent Garden.
Maria Callas died in Paris in September 1977. She will remain one of the greatest voices of the 20th century, with many of her performances immortalised on disc and on film.
This video clip shows an effortless rendition of the aria Casta Diva from Bellini’s Norma.