On Air Now
Young Classical Stars with Charlotte Hawkins 9pm - 10pm
30 November 2023, 21:06
The drama of opera, the glamour of the stage, and a life of fame and celebrity – here are 12 iconic photos from the life of the 20th century’s most beloved diva.
This Saturday sees the centenary of Greek-American soprano Maria Callas, born in New York on 2 December 1923.
The singer made her professional debut in early 1941 and rose to stratospheric levels of fame in the 1950s and 60s. She was famed for her Verdi, Puccini and bel canto singing, captivating stage presence with a personal life never too far from the celebrity spotlight.
Callas made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1956. Here she is a year later, as Empress of Egypt, again in New York.
Maria Callas at the dedication of her portrait in Paris, 1958. Over her career lived for her art, was a consummate actress, and champion of bel canto singing.
The famed soprano is snapped in the UK capital, 1958. Callas and the London public had what she called “a love affair”. She spent much time singing roles at the Covent Garden during the 1950s and 60s.
Callas at London’s Heathrow airport, 1958. The soprano frequently travelled between London, Milan and New York, living a life of glamour befitting the age and her celebrity status.
Rehearsing for her title role in Cherubini’s Medea at London’s Covent Garden, 1959.
Sitting for a interview in Milan, 1959. The television moment was billed as an intercontinental conversation between three of the biggest names in classical music: Callas in Italy was joined by Sir Thomas Beecham in France and Victor Borge in America.
Callas at Idlewild airport after a journey from Milan, 1959.
Callas in the fashionable French capital, 1960. Here she was accompanied by her husband, Italian industrialist Giovanni Battista Meneghini, though he is not in shot.
The Greek soprano looks to the wings of the stage, during a standing ovation, 1965.
Filming a feature programme in Paris, 1965. Callas would spend many of her final years in the French capital.
From a 1970 photoshoot.
On stage at Manhattan’s famed hall, 1974. On New York critic said it “would be silly to pretend that Miss Callas has much voice left, but she remains an artist.”
Her final performance was in November 1974, in Sapporo, Japan. Maria Callas died in Paris in 1977, aged 53.