Her peerless voice made Maria Callas one of the greatest opera singers of all time, and undoubtedly the most famous soprano of the 20th century. Known by her legions of fans as “la Diva”, she was courted by the most famous opera houses in the world, and was destined to become the Queen of the most prestigious of all: the “temple of opera”, Milan’s La Scala.
Her debut on the renowned stage designed by Piermarini was on December 7th, 1951, in the role of Elena in I Vespri Siciliani, in the presence of President of the Republic Luigi Einaudi. But it was not until the following year, when she played the part of Norma, that Callas would win over the love and admiration of Milan’s public, entering the ranks of the immortals of opera. Anna Maria Sophia Cecilia Kalogheropoulos was born in New York on December 3rd 1923, to Greek parents who had recently emigrated to the United States. Encouraged by her mother, her musical career began at a very early age.
After 1939, when she at the Teatro dell’Opera in the role of Santuzza in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, she would go on to sing in Philadelphia, Washington and the Metropolitan in New York, as well as in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Hamburg and Rome. During her career, Maria Callas performed many operas that had fallen into obscurity for decades due to a lack of singers capable of doing them justice.
On September 27th, 1950, in his house on Via Durini, Maria Callas met her husband for the first time, the famous maestro Arturo Toscanini, who wanted to meet all of the most famous voices of opera in person. When Callas sang Macbeth, she was accompanied on the piano by an 84-year-old Toscanini. Another meeting in Milan that marked Callas’ life took place in the living room of Wally Toscanini, the maestro’s daughter, in 1951. This was where she met the fashion designer Biki (Elvira Leonardi Bonyeure, Puccini’s granddaughter): Biki would create Callas’ personal style, and Callas brought this Milan-based designer with her studio in Via Senato to the world’s attention.
There is a precise spot on La Scala’s stage where this famous soprano loved to stand while performing the most difficult arias: today this point is still known as the “Callas spot”, and opera buffs are certain that it represents the point from which sound emanates best to the entire hall, boxes and gallery alike.
Where “la Diva” dined after performing at La Scala;
Grand Hotel et de Milan:
Where she stayed several times with her husband, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, until they settled in their home in Via Buonarroti;
Pasticceria Cova, Via Montenapoleone:
Where she often drank tea with friends;
Via Buonarroti, 40:
She went to live in a small house with her husband after her most intense engagements with La Scala had passed. She stayed in Milan for some time even after her separation from Meneghini and the beginning of her relationship with
Milan, Istituto dei Tumori:
Where she performed a concert for patients only;
Basilica of S.Eufemia, Piazza S.Eufemia (Corso Italia);
In Milan she met and knew many famous personalities: Arturo Toscanini, Luchino Visconti, Biki, Renata Tebaldi (her rival), Franco Zeffirelli, who directed her in 1955 at La Scala in Il turco in Italia by G. Rossini, Aristotele Onassis, with whom she had a long, turbulent affair, Wally Toscanini Castelbarco, Elsa Maxwell, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco.