La Divina

Callas as Pasolini's Medea
To me, Maria Callas is synonymous with my earliest days of discovering opera.  The first disc of hers I ever owned was an original copy of highlights from Madama Butterfly which I discovered in second hand book store for a dollar when I was about 14.  It was in poor condition but I cannot part with it, even now when I have the complete recording on CD.

Aida was the first complete recording of Callas I purchased and certainly a characterisation of the title role which I find no one comes even close to, even despite her flaws. From there I devoured any book I came across on her life and bought as many records as I could afford.  Indeed I can credit her for my love of vintage album covers from the era, a love that continues to this day.

Her colourful life to me became the epitomy of the opera lifestyle and as a young gay boy growing up in 80's Perth gave me a much needed escape from the cultural wasteland around me.  I wanted to be as talented as her in my own field and equally as renowned.

Maria Callas - Portrait
Maria got to where she was through sheer hard work and determination and that was what I was going to do.  Her example also showed me that no matter how high your artistic ideals, or how talented you are, the sacrifice you make personally is often a big one and balance in one's life is as important as attaining greatness.

She left behind a rich and varied recording legacy, the immortal Medea film by Pasolini and a few filmed performances.

Here is what would be her most famous role, Norma and Lucia aside: Puccini's Tosca. This video is from the classic Zeffirelli production from Covent Garden in 1964 with Tito Gobbi and Renato Cioni, Act 2 in it's entirety.


Happy birthday Maria Callas, Prima Donna Assoluta.  (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977)