What is it that makes soprano Maria Callas stand out from all the other outstanding vocalists of her time? What is it that persuades new opera fans to buy her albums, more than 25 years after her death, when other opera... [more]
What is it that makes soprano Maria Callas stand out from all the other outstanding vocalists of her time? What is it that persuades new opera fans to buy her albums, more than 25 years after her death, when other opera singers are forgotten immediately after their retirement? Most people insist that, instead of merely creating beautiful music like other singers, Callas brought the characters to life in an unforgettable way, with a vocal style and dramatic presence never seen before or since.
The diva of divas was born in 1923 in New York City, but moved back to Greece in her early teens. She debuted in Athens in 1941. During the early years of her career, she sang dramatic soprano roles, but around 1950 she switched to the bel canto style, and sought out quick coloratura roles. That any singer could move back and forth between two opposite voice types is miraculous -- and largely unheard of -- but Callas did so with enough flair not only to keep her audience, but to revive the public interest in the formerly obsolete style of bel canto.
Callas' mass appeal is due in part to her tremendous acting ability; she never forgot that she was onstage to portray a role. She was an extremely charismatic, powerful presence, and for most of her career, a stunning beauty. While some critics scorn her for singing poorly or with a lack of control, the truth is that she sounded ugly at times to portray her characters more realistically. Regardless of her unconventional style, Callas had an amazing voice, distinct from other sopranos because of its range, tone, and ability to express moods or emotions.
The controversy over Callas may never see an end -- people continue to see her either as an overrated songstress, a wonderful talent, or the greatest soprano that ever lived. [show less]