Τhe great Greek opera singer Maria Callas, known as the great diva, was born in New York City on December 2, 1923.
The internationally renowned Maria Callas captivated audiences with her iconic opera performances, showing off her vocal range in productions like 'Tosca' and 'Norma was a Greek-American soprano, and one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini and further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina.
She received her musical education in Greece and established her career in Italy. Her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the Bible of opera" and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists.
In 1941, Callas made her professional debut with the Royal Opera of Athens in a modest role in Franz von Suppé's Boccaccio. Later in the year, she took on her first major role in Tosca. Callas's Italian opera debut took place at the Verona Arena in August 1947, in a performance of La Gioconda. The great turning point in her career occurred in Venice in 1949. Callas was pulled in to cover a soprano role in I puritani. She had six days to prepare – and triumphed. Two years later she debuted at La Scala Milan, and the theatre became her artistic home throughout the 1950s. La Scala mounted many new productions especially for Callas by directors such as Herbert von Karajan, Franco Zeffirelli and, most importantly, Luchino Visconti. He stated later that he began directing opera only because of Callas.
In 1954, Callas made her American debut in Norma at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The performance was a triumph and was seen as a signature role. In 1956, Callas made her bedut in the Metropolitan Opera in her home city of New York opening the season with Bellini's Norma on 29 October 1956. It was at the Royal Opera House where, on 5 July 1965, Callas ended her stage career in the role of Tosca, in a production by Franco Zeffirelli and featuring her friend Tito Gobbi.
In 1969, the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini cast Callas in her only non-operatic acting role, as the mythological character of Medea.
Callas died unexpectedly in Paris, France, on September 16, 1977, shortly before her fifty-fifth birthday.
Maria Calla’s artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the Bible of opera" and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists."