La Voce, la Diva, la Donna, Avenue Magazine, Bonbonnière, Maastricht 1986
Until today, almost 40 years after her early death in 1977, Maria Callas, La Prima Donna Absoluta, who is worshipped by millions, is still considered the greatest opera singer of the twentieth century; not only because of her extraordinary singing talent but also because of her incredible ability to deliver strong and expressive acting performances.
Casta Diva from the opera Norma by Bellini, a classical example of the belcanto tradition, is one of her best known arias.
Musical artists from different genres, like Emmilou Harris, Patti Smith, and Linda Rondstadt have all mentioned Maria Callas as a great influence, and paid tribute to La Divina in their music; the fictional opera singer Bianca Castafiore from ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, has been modeled after her.
The latter half of Callas’ career was marked by a number of scandals. Once she was photographed with her mouth turned in a furious snarl, which started the myth of Callas as a temperamental prima donna and a ‘Tigress’. Later that year, just before her debut at the N.Y. Metropolitan Opera, Time ran a damaging cover story about her and the difficult relationship with her mother.
While still married to Giovanni Battista Meneghini, she began an affair with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis which ended after a few years when Onassis left Callas in favour of Jacqueline Kennedy Bouvier, the widow of American president John F. Kennedy. After that they resumed what had become a ‘clandestine’ affair and frequently met up in Paris, where she lived largely in isolation and died of a heart attack at age 53 on September 16, 1977.
In 2007, she was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and voted the greatest soprano of all time by BBC Music Magazine. In 1986 the flamboyant Alexandra impersonated her in ‘La Voce, la Diva, la Donna’ for Avenue Magazine. Styling Frans Ankoné, hair and make-up Charles Olivier.