Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Style Icon Series: Maria Callas

So for the first Icon in my series, I decided to choose a woman who maybe some of you mightn't have heard of: La Divina, Maria Callas.

A bit of a bio: She was born in New York in 1923, and received her musical education in Athens, before singing in Opera houses all over the world. Her voice was and still is, however, controversial, it inspires as many as it bothers. Technically, there are, were and will be many better singers, but for me, Callas' acting will never be beaten, she lived her characters, I only wish I could've had the opportunity to see her sing live on stage. She died in Paris in 1977, aged 53.
As well as being a huge musical inspiration to me, her style was something to be envied too! Typically of ladies of the 50s and 60s, she always looked immaculate and beautiful. Her clothes were classic, and her makeup was always fabulous. I also like her because she was quite tall for her day, 5'8 and a half - my height exactly! (Sounds silly, but I've always had a bit of a complex about being taller than average!) As a musician, singer and woman, she is a huge inspiration for me, and maybe with a bit of research, she could be one of yours too.

Here's one of my favourite arias, sung by my favourite opera diva, in 1964 at the Royal Opera House, London. If you can, watch. Do you get goosebumps like I do when you watch this? Her acting is so...pure, I guess is the word I would use.

Do you like this feature? Let me know, I've got quite a few inspiring ladies to feature, is it something you'd like me to continue with? (I kinda plan on doing it anyway, but any tips to make it better or anything, let me know!)

Currently: watching PMQs (Prime Minister's Questions, to non UK-ers!)


  1. wow made me cry i love this feature

    pure is a beautiful word.

    had no idea you were tall!

    natasha, you must tell us what happens after this point in the opera! please don't leave us hanging! :)

    that was a very young age for her to die.

  2. Basically to explain the context of this aria and what happens after: Tosca (played by Callas) is a singer, who is in love with a painter called Cavaradossi. However, because she is so beautiful and talented a man called Scarpia (who is the man in the film with her) wants her for himself. Just before the scene in the film bargains that he won't kill Cavaradossi if she gives herself to him. She sings this aria as a prayer to God, asking why this must be her fate.

    Scarpia then says that he will perform a mock execution for Cavaradossi in order to keep up the pretense, and Tosca agrees. So the morning of the fake execution arrives and it happens, but Scarpia deceives Tosca and actually has Cavaradossi killed. She runs forward to check his body, but then is discovered over his dead body and is accused of killing him. As the soldiers rush in, she says that Scarpia will have to answer before God, and hurls herself off the edge of a parapet in the Castel Sant'Angelo (which I think is in Rome)

    And Maria Callas died of a heart attack, so not only was she young, but she died of something so common!

    Sorry for the explanation of the story being so long, it's hard for me to condense things, especially when I enjoy them and feel passionate about them!!

  3. No, don't be sorry I love hearing it! People are most engaging when they are passionate about what they are speaking of! Also when they know what they are talking about!

    I had one course in opera in college, just a crash appreciation course and we didn't study this opera. We only covered the top ten I think :)

    That is one of the most horrible saddest stories ever heard by me. What a vicious and cruel man.

    I was just asking my husband what she died of so young last night. Maybe she had high cholesterol. They weren't so knowledgable about that then. Wasn't she somebody famous' mistress, too? Some politician's? I will have to look it up.

    Thanks for the synopsis and I hope Scarpia rots in Hades. :)