Maria Callas, more than most opera greek singers, had about her an aura that defied explanation—even a decade after her death; she possessed a quality that grabbed audiences quickly and holds them still. And her allure reached outside the traditional audience of opera lovers. She peaked early, though, and began to lose her voice only six years after commencing her performing career, which effectively ended after only a decade. Still, audiences loved her long after her voice was gone, and she will always be mentioned when divas are discussed.

Callas was born in 1923, the year after her parents moved from Greece to New York City. Her mother noticed her musical talent while she was just a child and encouraged her....Today, Callas remains an enigma. Though her voice was never perfect, it could be exquisitely beautiful. Her talent displayed a rare combination of a large voice and great agility. Her acting and musicianship were so expressive that audiences continued to adore her even when her voice had disappeared. She brought to each performance a singular diligence and dynamic intelligence. As David Lowe wrote in Callas as They Saw Her: “The interplay between intelligence and instinct, training and talent, often led to phrasing that may haunt the memory forever.... The uniqueness of her art, though, lies in how she applied [her] resources to the interpretation of words and music. Indeed, with Callas, it is impossible to divorce the words she sang from the way she sang them.”

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