Maria Callas, photo by Cecil Beaton
If I had to choose one style icon it would most probably be Maria Callas …. Actually she is not only my favorite style icon but my favorite singer as well……she was the greatest soprano the world has ever heard … she sang arias like no other! Her voice was and still remains controversial; it bothered and disturbed as many as it thrilled and inspired many. Even though Callas had a recognizable voice she did not like the sound of it!…. in one of her last interviews, answering whether or not she was able to listen to her own voice, she replied,
Yes, but I don’t like it. I have to do it, but I don’t like it at all because I don’t like the kind of voice I have. I really hate listening to myself! The first time I listened to a recording of my singing was when we were recording San Giovanni Battista by Stradella in a church in Perugia in 1949. They made me listen to the tape and I cried my eyes out. I wanted to stop everything, to give up singing… Also now even though I don’t like my voice, I’ve become able to accept it and to be detached and objective about it so I can say, “Oh, that was really well sung,” or “It was nearly perfect.”
Maestro Carlo Giulini described the appeal of Callas’s voice:
It is very difficult to speak of the voice of Callas. Her voice was a very special instrument. Something happens sometimes with string instruments—violin, viola, cello—where the first moment you listen to the sound of this instrument, the first feeling is a bit strange sometimes. But after just a few minutes, when you get used to, when you become friends with this kind of sound, then the sound becomes a magical quality. This was Callas.
On December 2, 2008, on the 85th anniversary of Callas’s birth, a group of Greek and Italian officials unveiled a plaque in her honor at Flower Hospital (now the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center) where she was born. Made of Carrara marble and engraved in Italy, the plaque reads, “Maria Callas was born in this hospital on December 2, 1923. These halls heard for the first time the musical notes of her voice, a voice which has conquered the world. To this great interpreter of universal language of music, with gratitude.”
Here are few of my favorite songs….
Marias Callas sings “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen
O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi, G. Puccini)
For more information clic on The Maria Callas Official Web Site.