Maria Callas

Biography

Born: December 2, 1923   Died: September 16, 1977  
The fame and legacy of Maria Callas are nearly unsurpassed in the modern history of opera. Her fame has transcended the usual boundaries of classical music, and she has been the inspiration for several movies, an opera, and a successful Broadway musical. Her extensive catalogue of recordings remains among the most coveted and controversial for both her fans and detractors.

Though American by birth, Callas (born Maria Anne Sofia Cecilia
Read more Kalogeropoulos) was born of Greek parents, and at age 13 her mother took her back to Greece because of financial difficulties caused by the Great Depression. She studied voice at the Royal Academy of Music in Athens with Spanish coloratura soprano Elvira de Hildago and made rapid progress; she soon sang Santuzza in a student production of Cavalleria rusticana. Her professional debut came at age 16 in a minor role in Suppe's Bocaccio.

While still in Athens during World War II, Callas sang her first Tosca in 1942. In 1945, she returned to the United States and sang several auditions, but nothing came of her visit. Her first appearance in 1947 at Verona as La Gioconda brought her to the attention of Tullio Serafin; Serafin became her musical advisor for many years, acting as her coach and conductor of many of her performances.

The entire world of opera was stunned when, in 1949 -- while singing Brünnhilde in Die Walküre at Venice -- she agreed to sing Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani, alternating performances during the same week. That same year she traveled to Buenos Aires to sing Turandot and Norma. In 1950, she sang Aida at the Teatro alla Scala, but she did not become a regular member there until 1952. The summer of 1950 took her Mexico City where, in one month, she sang Norma, Aida, Tosca and Il trovatore. During these early years, Callas would sing nearly any role offered including Isolde, Leonore in La forza del destino, Constanza in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Elena in I vespri siciliani.

As she matured, Callas began to concentrate on a smaller core repertory, including Cherubini's Medea, Bellini's Norma, Puccini's Tosca, Bellini's La Sonnambula, and Donizetti's Anna Bolena. Most of her other roles were heard only in one series of performances. After 1959, she rarely appeared on the opera stage, but she did sing concerts in America and Europe. Her last opera performances were in June 1965, at Paris as Norma. She came out of retirement in 1973 to tour the world with Giuseppe di Stefano in a series of recitals. Although financially rewarding, the tour did nothing to enhance her reputation. In 1971, she gave a series of masterclasses at the Juilliard School of Music in New York which were quite successful. In 1977, she died of a sudden heart attack in her Paris apartment.

Maria Callas was one of the most controversial singers of the twentieth century. She had a wide range from high E to the F below the staff, and an innate feel for the style of bel canto roles, but she was most notable for bringing a commitment and intensity to her dramatic portrayals that was nearly unprecedented at the time. By 1957, her voice developed a wobble which grew worse in the following years. Always a perfectionist, she was very difficult to deal with from a management point of view: she was fired from the Metropolitan Opera in 1958 and she was estranged from Teatro alla Scala for several years. Her vocal decline coincided with the dissolution of her first marriage to Giovanni Meneghini and her affair with Aristotle Onassis. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 166 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    100 Best Verdi
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548466 Release Date: 11/06/2020   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Placido Domingo,  Rolando Villazón,  Renato Bruson,  Nicolai Gedda  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Marcello Viotti,  Giuseppe Patané,  Julius Rudel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    50 Best Opera Classics
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 548163 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Teresa Berganza,  Heather Harper,  Thomas Allen,  Elisabeth Gale  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Bernard Haitink,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    CD: $10.99
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  • 3.
    Deluxe Operas - Five Legendary Opera Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 546617 Release Date: 07/31/2020   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Xavier Depraz,  Michel Hamel,  Ernest Blanc,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Otto Klemperer,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Georges Prętre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 4.
    Rossini Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 574311 Release Date: 10/26/2018   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Ottorino Respighi
    Performer:  Annick Massis,  Rodney Gilfry,  Raúl Giménez,  Pietro Spagnoli  ... 
    Conductor:  Marc Minkowski,  Gabriele Ferro,  Claudio Scimone,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Le Concert des Tuileries,  Bologna Teatro Comunale Orchestra,  Cologne West German Radio Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $99.98
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  • 5.
    Magic Moments of Music: Tosca, 1964 / Callas
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 745008 Release Date: 03/23/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Maria Callas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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    DVD: $29.99
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  • 6.
    Magic Moments of Music: Tosca, 1964 / Callas [Blu-ray]
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 745104 Release Date: 03/23/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Maria Callas
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Puccini: Passion & Drama - 32 Famous Melodies
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1601 Release Date: 01/12/2018   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Renata Tebaldi,  Maria Callas,  Giuseppe Di Stefano  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Santa Cecilia Orchestra,  Santa Cecilia Choir,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 8.
    Bellini: Il Pirata / Callas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563845 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Regina Sarfaty,  Pier Miranda Ferraro,  Maria Callas,  Costantino Ego  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicola Rescigno
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Opera Society Orchestra,  American Opera Society Chorus
    CD: $13.99
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  • 9.
    Bellini: La sonnambula / Callas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563848 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Giuseppe Modesti,  Maria Callas,  Gabriella Carturan
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
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  • 10.
    Bellini: Norma / Callas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563851 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini
    Performer:  Paul Asciak,  Dame Joan Sutherland,  Maria Callas,  Mirto Picchi  ... 
    Conductor:  Vittorio Gui
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Orchestra,  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Chorus
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  • 11.
    Cherubini: Medea / Callas, Bernstein, Teatro all Scala
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563879 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Luigi Cherubini
    Performer:  Angela Vercelli,  Maria Luisa Nache,  Maria Callas,  Gino Penno  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
    CD: $13.99
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  • 12.
    Donizetti: Anna Bolena / Callas, Gavazzeni, Teatro alla Scala
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563883 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Giulietta Simionato,  Gianni Raimondi,  Nicola Rossi-Lemeni,  Plinio Clabassi  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
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  • 13.
    Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor / Callas, Karajan, Teatro alla Scala
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563886 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Gaetano Donizetti
    Performer:  Rolando Panerai,  Giuseppe di Stefano,  Maria Callas,  Nicola Zaccaria
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
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  • 14.
    Giordano: Andrea Chenier / Callas, Votto, Teatro alla Scala
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563892 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Umberto Giordano
    Performer:  Lucia Danieli,  Maria Callas,  Maria Amadini,  Silvana Zanolli  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonino Votto
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
    CD: $13.99
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  • 15.
    Maria Callas Live & Alive: The Ultimate Live Collection Remastered
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563841 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gasparo Spontini  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Renato Cioni,  Rolando Panerai,  Nicola Zaccaria  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Felice Cillario,  Herbert von Karajan,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Oliviero de Fabritiis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 16.
    Maria Callas Live Remastered Recordings 1949-1964 / Various
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563467 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Richard Wagner,  Gioachino Rossini,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Performer:  Amalia Pini,  Maria Callas,  Gino Bechi,  Gino Sinimberghi  ... 
    Conductor:  Vittorio Gui,  Erich Kleiber,  Oliviero de Fabritiis,  Tullio Serafin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli,  Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome,  Italian Radio Chorus Rome  ... 
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 17.
    Puccini: Tosca / Cillario, Royal Opera House Covent Garden
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563914 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Eric Garrett,  Victor Godfrey,  Renato Cioni,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Felice Cillario
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 18.
    Spontini: La Vestale (Milano, 12/7/1954) / Callas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563904 Release Date: 09/15/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gasparo Spontini
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Ebe Stignani,  Nicola Rossi-Lemeni,  Franco Corelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Antonino Votto
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
    CD: $13.99
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  • 19.
    Verdi: Aida / Fabritiis, Callas, Palacio de las Bellas Artes
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563911 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Roberto Silva,  Ignacio Ruffino,  Giuseppe Taddei,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Oliviero de Fabritiis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Orchestra,  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Chorus
    CD: $13.99
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  • 20.
    Verdi: La Traviata / Ghione, Callas, Teatro Nacional de Sao Carlos Lisboa
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563917 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Alfredo Kraus,  Alessandro Maddalena,  Piero de Palma,  Maria Cristina de Castro  ... 
    Conductor:  Franco Ghione
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lisbon San Carlos National Theater Orchestra,  Lisbon San Carlos National Theater Chorus
    CD: $13.99
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  • 21.
    Verdi: Macbeth / Sabata, Callas, Teatro alla Scala
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563920 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Attilio Barbesi,  Dario Caselli,  Luciano della Pergola,  Angela Vercelli  ... 
    Conductor:  Victor de Sabata
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano,  Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
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  • 22.
    Verdi: Nabucco / Callas, Gui, Teatro di San Carlo di Napoli
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563926 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Silvana Tenti,  Luciano della Pergola,  Gino Bechi,  Maria Callas  ... 
    Conductor:  Vittorio Gui
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Naples Teatro San Carlo Orchestra,  Naples Teatro San Carlo Chorus
    CD: $13.99
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  • 23.
    Verdi: Rigoletto / Mugnai, Cassas, Palacio de las Bellas Artes
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 563876 Release Date: 09/15/2017  
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Edna Patoni,  Francisco Alonso,  Alberto Herrera,  Giuseppe Di Stefano  ... 
    Conductor:  Umberto Mugnai
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Orchestra,  Mexico City Palacio de Bellas Artes Chorus
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  • 24.
    The New Sound of Maria Callas
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 557835 Release Date: 11/04/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi,  Georges Bizet  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas
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  • 25.
    Puccini: Tosca / Callas, Bergonzi, Gobbi, Pretre
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 557674 Release Date: 10/14/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Carlo Bergonzi,  Tito Gobbi
    Conductor:  Georges Prętre
    On sale! $29.99
    CD: $24.99
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