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Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography

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Maria Callas continues to mesmerize us twenty years after her death, not only because she was indisputably the greatest opera diva of the 20th century, but also because both her life and death were shrouded in a Machiavellian web of scandal, mystery and deception. Now Anne Edwards, well known for her revealing and insightful biographies of some of the world's most noted wo Maria Callas continues to mesmerize us twenty years after her death, not only because she was indisputably the greatest opera diva of the 20th century, but also because both her life and death were shrouded in a Machiavellian web of scandal, mystery and deception. Now Anne Edwards, well known for her revealing and insightful biographies of some of the world's most noted women, tells the intimate story of Maria Callas—her loves, her life, and her music, revealing the true woman behind the headlines, gossip and speculation. The second daughter of Greek immigrant parents, Maria found herself in the grasp of an overwhelmingly ambitious mother who took her away from her native New York and the father she loved, to a Greece on the eve of the Second World War. From there, we learn of the hardships, loves and triumphs Maria experienced in her professional and personal life. We are introduced to the men who marked Callas forever—Luchino Visconti, the brilliant homosexual director who she loved hopelessly, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, the husband thirty years her senior who used her for his own ambitions, as had her mother, and Aristotle Onassis, who put an end to their historic love affair by discarding her for the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. Throughout her life, Callas waged a constant battle with her weight, a battle she eventually won, transforming herself from an ugly duckling into the slim and glamorous diva who transformed opera forever, whose recordings are legend, and whose life is the stuff of which tabloids are made. Anne Edwards goes deeper than previous biographies of Maria Callas have dared. She draws upon intensive research to refute the story of Callas's "mystery child" by Onassis, and she reveals the true circumstances of the years preceding Callas's death, including the deception perpetrated by her close and trusted friend. As in her portraits of other brilliant, star-crossed women, Edwards brings Maria Callas—the intimate Callas—alive.


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Maria Callas continues to mesmerize us twenty years after her death, not only because she was indisputably the greatest opera diva of the 20th century, but also because both her life and death were shrouded in a Machiavellian web of scandal, mystery and deception. Now Anne Edwards, well known for her revealing and insightful biographies of some of the world's most noted wo Maria Callas continues to mesmerize us twenty years after her death, not only because she was indisputably the greatest opera diva of the 20th century, but also because both her life and death were shrouded in a Machiavellian web of scandal, mystery and deception. Now Anne Edwards, well known for her revealing and insightful biographies of some of the world's most noted women, tells the intimate story of Maria Callas—her loves, her life, and her music, revealing the true woman behind the headlines, gossip and speculation. The second daughter of Greek immigrant parents, Maria found herself in the grasp of an overwhelmingly ambitious mother who took her away from her native New York and the father she loved, to a Greece on the eve of the Second World War. From there, we learn of the hardships, loves and triumphs Maria experienced in her professional and personal life. We are introduced to the men who marked Callas forever—Luchino Visconti, the brilliant homosexual director who she loved hopelessly, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, the husband thirty years her senior who used her for his own ambitions, as had her mother, and Aristotle Onassis, who put an end to their historic love affair by discarding her for the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. Throughout her life, Callas waged a constant battle with her weight, a battle she eventually won, transforming herself from an ugly duckling into the slim and glamorous diva who transformed opera forever, whose recordings are legend, and whose life is the stuff of which tabloids are made. Anne Edwards goes deeper than previous biographies of Maria Callas have dared. She draws upon intensive research to refute the story of Callas's "mystery child" by Onassis, and she reveals the true circumstances of the years preceding Callas's death, including the deception perpetrated by her close and trusted friend. As in her portraits of other brilliant, star-crossed women, Edwards brings Maria Callas—the intimate Callas—alive.

30 review for Maria Callas: An Intimate Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Lafferty

    This is a very balanced, insightful and well-researched portrait of a fascinating woman. The iconic opera diva as well as the vulnerable and complex woman underneath is thoroughly explored. Anne Edwards is a very talented biographer. I was already a fan of her books and when I found out she had written this biography of Maria Callas, one of my favorite singers, I had to read it and the book actually exceeded my expectations.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susannah

    Maria Callas, A true tragic Greek. I was totally absorbed into the life of this famous diva. She was loved, adored by many, but sought the love of one man only, who consistently betrayed her. lonely, lovely Maria. The diva lives on!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ephie

    I bought this book many years ago when I was asked to talk about someone famous from my country and I couldn’t think of anyone. (That has now changed.) I knew Maria Callas was a Greek American (I am Greek Cypriot), but she was the only person at the time who I could think of who almost fit the bill. Anne Edwards was, in my opinion, the perfect biographer for this book with her music background and opera training. I loved the descriptions of the operas, their stories, the costumes, the settings a I bought this book many years ago when I was asked to talk about someone famous from my country and I couldn’t think of anyone. (That has now changed.) I knew Maria Callas was a Greek American (I am Greek Cypriot), but she was the only person at the time who I could think of who almost fit the bill. Anne Edwards was, in my opinion, the perfect biographer for this book with her music background and opera training. I loved the descriptions of the operas, their stories, the costumes, the settings and props, etc. I felt AE was honest in describing MC’s performance triumphs and shortcomings. MC’s personal life also seemed well-researched. I liked the footnotes and extracts backing up what AE wrote. AE succeeded in bringing to life a past era and lifestyle. What I really loved about this book was that it reminded me of my love for the arts and the opera; I found myself looking up opera and classical music on youtube, watching documentaries about opera singers, etc. which I have not done for a couple of years. Overall, an interesting and educational read with a horrifying ending.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ris

    I enjoyed reading about Callas' crazy dramatic life. What a tumultuous family background... What stood out to me was how very alone she was, her whole life. Very sad, ultimately. I enjoyed reading about Callas' crazy dramatic life. What a tumultuous family background... What stood out to me was how very alone she was, her whole life. Very sad, ultimately.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lucía

    I read 60% of this book and decided it was enough. I grew tired of the writing, the descriptions felt like I was reading a (bad) novel and weren't relevant for a biography, and I didn't like some rumours she added about her and Onassis. Edwards adds too many theories and personal commentaries which slow everything down and impose her view on every moment of Maria's life. I want something more informative and to the point, like Klimt's biography by Frank Whitford, which I'm currently reading. I st I read 60% of this book and decided it was enough. I grew tired of the writing, the descriptions felt like I was reading a (bad) novel and weren't relevant for a biography, and I didn't like some rumours she added about her and Onassis. Edwards adds too many theories and personal commentaries which slow everything down and impose her view on every moment of Maria's life. I want something more informative and to the point, like Klimt's biography by Frank Whitford, which I'm currently reading. I still find Maria Callas a very interesting and inspiring woman and I will try to read other biographies that are more to my taste.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe Mojoguzzi

    I really loved this book. So much I didn’t know about Callas! The author does a great job detailing HOW as well as WHY Maria Callas became the Neil Peart or Frank Lloyd Wright of opera. Some typos and a choppy writing style slightly mar the book...but don’t let that stop you from reading this amazing story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Biographer Anne Edwards reads like a novel. Maria Callas as a subject is highly complex, yet the story of her often tumultuous life is laid out impeccably, grabbing and holding attention. For her part, Maria Callas is the true prima donna, the ultimate diva, the deserving recipient of every brava given her... yet lived tragically unfulfilled😥

  8. 4 out of 5

    Greynomad

    From a over weight young lady to the Diva.....and the ups and downs throughout her life. Just an incredible life. The men in her life, christ what a tale in itself.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    Fabulous, insightful, sometimes heartbreaking. Well researched. Excellent examples of what singers who are perfectionists go through for their art. Excellent read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ivo

    В света на операта няма по-известна личност от Мария Калас.Проблемите в семейството , втората световна война, миланската скала където става легенда , тежките турнета всичко това добре е описано в книгата.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Janek

    Życie Callas nie było usłane różami. Urodziła się w biednej Grecji, wyemigrowała do Stanów, gdzie po kilku latach została zmuszona doi powrotu do ojczyzny. Tam pod osłoną wojny szkoliła swój talent przy okazji przyśpiewując okupującym Grecję żołnierzom włoskim i niemieckim. Niemal przez cały okres szkolenia głosu była pulchnym dzieckiem, a potem kobietą z krągłościami. Jednak posiadała talent tak wielki, że wszystkie jej grzeszki przeszłości zakopano pod grubą warstwą historii. Wszyscy chcieli j Życie Callas nie było usłane różami. Urodziła się w biednej Grecji, wyemigrowała do Stanów, gdzie po kilku latach została zmuszona doi powrotu do ojczyzny. Tam pod osłoną wojny szkoliła swój talent przy okazji przyśpiewując okupującym Grecję żołnierzom włoskim i niemieckim. Niemal przez cały okres szkolenia głosu była pulchnym dzieckiem, a potem kobietą z krągłościami. Jednak posiadała talent tak wielki, że wszystkie jej grzeszki przeszłości zakopano pod grubą warstwą historii. Wszyscy chcieli jej słuchać! Callas szybko stała się natchnieniem dla znanych kompozytorów i reżyserów. Była muzą dla artystów, ozdobą bogatych i wpływowych ludzi. Sama związała się z jednym z najbogatszych oligarchów - Arystotelesem Onassisem. Callas posiadała dar przemawiania, hipnotyzowania widzów poprzez śpiewanie. Dziś jest już legendą, o której pamiętają nieliczni. W swojej książce Anne Edwards opisuje rzetelnie życie diwy dokładnie przeczesując jej historię i dementując pomówienia skierowane pod jej adresem. Niestety, nie tylko plotki z gazet, ale również skierowane pod jej adresem kłamstwa wypowiedziane ustami własnej matki. Co zrozumiałem wzbudzała zazdrość swoją urodą, bogactwem i popularnością. Anne Edwards wykonała bardzo dobrą pracę na rzecz popularyzacji opery. Autorka przeanalizowała niezliczone źródła, przeprowadzała wywiady z ludźmi znającymi diwę, słuchała i oglądała wszystkie materiały dotyczące śpiewaczki. Sama także widziała ją na żywo w londyńskiej Royal Opera House, ale jej książka to nie tylko zbiór suchych faktów na temat śpiewaczki. Edwards podzieliła ją na 26 rozdziałów, każdemu przypisując jeden etap z życia Callas. Możemy zatem krok po kroku poznawać jej historię jednocześnie zapoznając się z cytatami osób, którym dane było wówczas śledzić jej życie. Pracę Edwards uwiarygodniają wspomnienia wielkich ludzi, z którymi pracowała, ale także wzmianki znajomych i rodziny. Dzięki temu mamy wgląd nie tylko w znane z życia fakty, ale również w dramaty życia domowego, jakie niewątpliwie były udziałem prywatnego życia diwy. Jej historia jest dowodem na to, że wielcy ludzie najczęściej bywają samotni. Marię oszukano nie raz, okradano z kosztowności, honorariów, oszczędności. Pazerność najbliższych nasiliła się jeszcze bardziej po jej odejściu. Historia ostatnich lat życia diwy i po jej śmierci oraz podziału i zarządzania majątkiem trwała lata i położyła się cieniem na pamięci o Marii Callas. Maria Callas może i nie miała najwspanialszego głosu XX wieku, ale z pewnością była najwybitniejszą wykonawczynią operową. Jej wkład w operę pomógł na zawsze zmienić jej oblicze. Edwards wykonała zadanie na piątkę. Udało się jej przywrócić do życia tą Callas, jaką była naprawdę. Stworzyła głęboki i wiarygodny portret śpiewaczki. Zdecydowanie jedna z lepszych biografii jakie czytałem - rzetelna i dobrze skonstruowana opowieść o kobiecie, która osiągnęła wszystko na polu zawodowym, ale nie potrafiła sobie poradzić w życiu prywatnym. Gorąco polecam. Znajomość opery nie jest obowiązkowa.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Q

    Legit the only biography of anyone I've ever read for fun. As well as the only non-fiction in the past 6-7 years I read willingly. What can I say, back then I was really into opera for some reason... surprisingly enough, I think even to today I have rarely listened to Callas recordings. I should do something about that. I remember enjoying this biography very much, but it was so long ago and I never read biographies so I'm afraid I can't judge it very well. Legit the only biography of anyone I've ever read for fun. As well as the only non-fiction in the past 6-7 years I read willingly. What can I say, back then I was really into opera for some reason... surprisingly enough, I think even to today I have rarely listened to Callas recordings. I should do something about that. I remember enjoying this biography very much, but it was so long ago and I never read biographies so I'm afraid I can't judge it very well.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mamma23

    Callas is fascinating to me and I'll read anything I can get my hands on about her. I read this one some time ago, but I remember being exasperated and enthralled by turns. Edwards makes some pretty huge leaps with her theories. But its still a nice, juicy read. Callas is fascinating to me and I'll read anything I can get my hands on about her. I read this one some time ago, but I remember being exasperated and enthralled by turns. Edwards makes some pretty huge leaps with her theories. But its still a nice, juicy read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I thought this was one of the better Maria Callas bio's. Didn't gloss over her faults, presented her in a human light. I thought this was one of the better Maria Callas bio's. Didn't gloss over her faults, presented her in a human light.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    My son picked this out for me - loving it!!! Well written!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne Hawn Smith

    This was an excellent book! I felt like I really began to understand her tourtured life as well as the power of her gift.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sherené Alexis

    A great read about a phenomenal woman. Loved it!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zlata Toshevska

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Regina

  22. 4 out of 5

    Briana Simpson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane Vermette

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chiho

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allison

  27. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jae

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

  30. 4 out of 5

    Celia Becker

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