Maria Callas, Commendatore OMRI (Greek:Μαρία Κάλλας; December 2, 1923– September 16, 1977), was a Greek-Americansoprano, and one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Some critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations, while others found her voice displeasing and considered that a defective technique was responsible for her premature decline. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini and further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. The press dubbed her La Divina.
Born in New York City and raised by an overbearing mother, she received her musical education in Greece and established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of wartime poverty and with myopia that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. She turned herself from a heavy woman into a svelte and glamorous one after a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career. The press exulted in publicizing Callas's temperamental behavior, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Although her dramatic life and personal tragedy have often overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press, her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her "the Bible of opera" and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: "Nearly thirty years after her death, she's still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists."
"Real friends are very special, but you have to be careful because sometimes you have a friend and you think they are made of rock, then suddenly you realise they're only made of sand."
"I would not kill my enemies, but I will make them get down on their knees. I will, I can, I must."
"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."
"When my enemies stop hissing, I shall know I'm slipping."
"Love is so much better when you're not married."
"I am not an angel and do not pretend to be. That is not one of my roles. But I am not the devil either. I am a woman and a serious artist, and I would like so to be judged."
"I don't need the money, dear. I work for art."
"That is the difference between good teachers and great teachers: good teachers make the best of a pupil's means; great teachers foresee a pupil's ends."
"You are born an artist or you are not. And you stay an artist, dear, even if your voice is less of a fireworks. The artist is always there."
"Don't talk to me about rules, dear. Wherever I stay I make the god dam rules."
"When music fails to agree to the ear, to soothe the ear and the heart and the senses, then it has missed the point."