Maria Callas, a Greek tragedy of drugs and abuse

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By CAPosts 12 April, 2021 - 10:20pm 5 views

Maria Callas was a myth, the great lady of bel canto, and also the protagonist of one of the most stormy love stories of recent times to which many attribute the debacle of a career that had only risen. When the millionaire Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis crossed her path and, as she herself put it, made her feel like “the queen of the world with her irresistible mischief”, he also turned her into “a domesticated animal”. These statements are not new and belong to the documentary Maria by Callas: In her own words , by Tom Volf that was presented in 2017. But that the recesses of the life of the goddess of opera have no end and, as a good idol that is worth it, the search for new data on her leads again and again to new discoveries, it is a fact.

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Lyndsy Spence has spent the last two years of her life examining three different collections of material on Maria Callas that he had never seen and his research has led to a new biography about the singer, Cast a diva: The hidden life of María Callas that, as its title suggests, delves into her life more hidden. Among the revelations in this new book, there is room for surprises despite how much has been written about Callas. And the summary is that she, who played so many Greek tragedies on stage, experienced an even greater one in her real life. Of the pain he experienced after falling madly in love with Onassis and ending up realizing that he did not love her "but what she represented," he has fully realized. But at no time has it been published that the Greek shipowner drugged the soprano to be able to have sex with her.

Among the most shocking letters of those consulted for this work is one that Callas addresses to his secretary when the shipowner is already married to Jackie Onassis, widow of US President John F. Kennedy. In it the singer confesses that Onassis and physically threatened in the newspaper of one of her closest friends can read that came to drug her for sexual reasons, something that today would be clearly classified as abuse sexual.

Nor does it seem that the prima donna she was lucky with her husband, the Italian industrialist Giovanni Battista Meneghini, whom she claims is "a louse." She adds: “My husband still annoys me after having stolen more than half of my money by putting everything in his name since we got married. I was a fool to trust him. " Nor does Peter Menin, then president of the famous school dedicated to the arts The Juilliard School in New York, fare well. About him Callas affirms that, after rejecting his advances and sentimental or sexual advances, he was prevented from returning to the institution to teach.

Not even his mother is free at this crossroads of confessions of a woman who feels betrayed by those closest to her . About her mother, María Callas, she affirms that she even sold stories of them to the press and that she blackmailed her. Nor does it seem that he found great allies among colleagues, at least not in the soprano Renata Tebaldi, with whom the media of the time aired a notorious confrontation after she said: "I have one thing that Callas does not have: heart." Although both then denied this alleged rivalry, the documents consulted now show that there was one and that Callas spoke of their respective voices saying that equating them was "like comparing champagne with cognac" or that Tebaldi "was unpleasant and cunning."

María Callas with the Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis. Hulton Deutsch / Corbis via Getty Images

In any case, the most tormented stage of his life was related to Aristotle Onassis with whom he was related between 1959 and 1968. With him he abandoned the histrionic, maniacal and somewhat capricious character that everyone heard and loved, to show herself as a woman with simple desires and an open heart who, away from the stage, read recipes and collected chimes. But the relationship with the extremely wealthy and controversial businessman was always extreme and far removed from the family serenity that María Callas desperately sought. The passion, love and storm of that relationship ended in 1968, when Onassis left her to marry Jacqueline Kennedy, a trophy even more precious than her for her elegance, moderation and for being the widow of the assassinated US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. five years before.

"I gave up an incredible career for him," María Callas said then. "I pray to God to help me get through this moment," he added. That disappointment plunged her into sadness: “I must not have any illusions, happiness is not for me. Is it too much to ask that the people who are next to me love me ”, he went on to say. She tried to recover but was sunk, there was even talk in 1970 of a suicide attempt after ingesting an overdose of barbiturates . On September 16, 1977, at the age of 53, death surprised her at her home in Paris. The place where she had been confined for almost a decade and where she felt rejected by everyone.

Source: Elpais

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