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Maria Callas (1923 - 1977)


Maria Callas’s father changed the family name from Kalogeropoulos to Callas in 1929, when he opened a pharmacy in the Greek quarter of Manhattan. Both her parents were Greek, arriving in the USA in the year of her birth. Having received her first piano lessons as early as 1932, she was later able to prepare roles without the assistance of a repetiteur. Her parents separated in 1937 and together with her mother and sister Callas returned to Greece.

Here she entered the National Conservatory in 1938, studying singing with Maria Trivella and making her stage debut in a student production during the following year as Santuzza / Cavalleria rusticana, after which Elvira de Hidalgo became her teacher, concentrating upon coloratura training. Callas’s professional operatic debut took place in Athens in 1941 as Beatrice / Boccaccio (Suppé) with the Lyric Theatre company, with whom she went on to sing the title role in Tosca (1942), as well as Marta / Tiefland (1943), Leonore / Fidelio (1944) and Laura / Der Bettelstudent (1945). Following the liberation of Greece in 1944 she decided to return to America to seek her father and in 1945 gave her first recital in Athens to raise funds; she auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera, New York at the end of the year, but without success.

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