A new book on Maria Callas explores her real life and deconstructs false media reports and tales surrounding one of the greatest opera singers of all time.
The book, “I am not Maria – I am Callas: Her Real Life and an Eon of Myths,” written by journalist Michalis Dimitriou was published in Greek in the year of the diva’s birth centennial.
It provides a portrait based on interviews and source material of the ‘real Maria’.
Dimitriou debunks tales surrounding Maria Callas, as reported in the popular press, about “dying early because of her desperate love for Onassis” and sacrificing herself for her stage persona, “paying for this in ineffable, deadly loneliness”.
He also dismisses the myths that she maintained a state of war with her mother and sister, and that she spent the last part of her life “in mourning Onassis and her lost glory.”
A recently published book “Cast A Diva: The Unknown Life of Maria Callas,” by Lyndsy Spence claims to have revealed shocking tidbits about the diva’s tempestuous relationship with Onassis, who broke her heart when he abandoned her for the widow of Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of assassinated American President John F. Kennedy.
Also included are disturbing anecdotes about Callas’ early life with her verbally abusive mother who forced her to leave Greece to pursue an international singing career, as well as the sad end of her life in near-complete solitude.
“Callas hated her mother, who worked as a prostitute during the war because she tried to pass her to Nazi soldiers,” according to Spence.
New book focuses on Maria Callas’ last Greek summer
The new book, published by Bell, focuses on Callas’ last Greek summer, which she spent in Chalkidiki with pianist Vasso Devetzi and other friends as a guest of Kostas Pylarinos, who heads the Maria Callas Scholarship Foundation.
Material for the book is based on a rare archive amassed of primary sources in Greece and foreign mass media (films, television programs, books), personal archives, and interviews with close friends.
Dimitriou also researches the fact that Maria Callas was not received well in Greece, and was, ironically, heavily criticized by the newspapers ‘Ta Nea‘ and ‘To Vima‘, founded by Dimitris Lambrakis, while his son Christos Lambrakis, who also led the efforts to build the Athens Concert Hall, was a close friend of hers.
Maria Callas lived an exciting life full of ups and downs, rejections, and bitter moments, but also periods of brilliant recognition, glory and deep professional satisfaction, long-term friendships, and emotional heights.
She always faced every adversity and trying time with great fortitude, and remained “the amazing Callas”, never becoming miserly toward herself or her friends, who were outstanding professionals in their sectors and loyal throughout.