Maria Callas quotes

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Maria Callas

Birthdate: 2. December 1923
Date of death: 16. September 1977

Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI was an American-born Greek soprano. She was 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 seria 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.

Born in Manhattan to Greek immigrant parents, she was raised by an overbearing mother who had wanted a son. Maria received her musical education in Greece at age 13 and later established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of 1940s wartime poverty and with near-sightedness that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. She turned herself from a heavy woman into a svelte and glamorous one after a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career.

The press exulted in publicizing Callas's temperamental behavior, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Although her dramatic life and personal tragedy have often overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press, 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."



Wikipedia

Photo: CBS Television, eBay front back / Public domain

„What a lovely voice, but who cares?“

—  Maria Callas

On hearing a recording by Renata Tebaldi, as quoted in The Last Prima Donnas (1982) by Lanfranco Rasponi; also in The Book of Musical Anecdotes (1985) by Norman Lebrecht ISBN 0-02-918710-9

„I admire Tebaldi's tone; it's beautiful — also some beautiful phrasing. Sometimes, I actually wish I had her voice.“

—  Maria Callas

Discussing rival soprano Renata Tebaldi, in a television interview with Norman Ross, Chicago (17 November 1957)

„[Serafin was] an extraordinary coach, sharp as a vecchio lupo [old wolfe]. He opened a world to me, showed me there was a reason for everything, that even fiorature and trills… have a reason in the composer's mind, that they are the expression of the stato d'animo [state of mind] of the character — that is, the way he feels at the moment, the passing emotions that take hold of him. He would coach us for every little detail, every movement, every word, every breath. One of the things he told me — and this is the basis of bel canto — is never to attack a note from underneath or from above, but always to prepare it in the face. He taught me that pauses are often more important than the music. He explained that there was a rhythm — these are the things you get only from that man! — a measure for the human ear, and that if a note was too long, it was no good after a while. A fermata always must be measured, and if there are two fermate close to one another in the score, you ignore one of them. He taught me the proportions of recitative — how it is elastic, the proportions altering so slightly that only you can understand it…. But in performance he left you on your own. "When I am in the pit, I am there to serve you, because I have to save my performance." he would say. We would look down and feel we had a friend there. He was helping you all the way. He would mouth all the words. If you were not well, he would speed up the tempo, and if you were in top form, he would slow it down to let you breathe, to give you room. He was breathing with you, living the music with you, loving it with you. It was elastic, growing, living.“

—  Maria Callas

Callas : The Art and the Life (1974)

„Don't talk to me about rules, dear. Wherever I stay I make the goddamn rules.“

—  Maria Callas

On her controversial personality and performance, quoted in Wild Women Talk Back : Audacious Advice for the Bedroom, Boardroom, and Beyond (2004) by Autumn Stephens, p. 142

„I would not kill my enemies, but I will make them get down on their knees. I will, I can, I must.“

—  Maria Callas

Callas : The Art and the Life (1974)

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