Ruth Leon recommends… Maria Callas – Tosca 1964

Ruth Leon recommends… Maria Callas – Tosca 1964

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

July 31, 2022

Maria Callas – Tosca 1964

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Maria Callas was a Greek tragedy. Her enormous professional success, her determination to make herself over from the fat girl constantly shunned when young, into the greatest star opera had ever seen, her unparallelled musicality, her dramatic persona, all this was in counterbalance with a private life that was an almost unbroken disaster.

The Diva to end all Divas, yes, but what lies beneath could be heard in her voice, even when that miraclous instrument began to fray. Perhaps particularly when it began to let her down. No one did Diva like Maria Callas. As her career declined, her affair with the billionaire Onassis dominated the tabloids.

With her 1964 Royal Opera House comeback production of Tosca, she sought to set things right. Using the footage of  that performance as its primary focus, this film tells her story from today’s perspective with interviews from fans, like Rufus Wainwright, and opera experts like ROH director Antonio Pappano.


  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Everyone should read the 3 books written by the 3 people who knew her intimately – her mother, her husband, and her sister. Taken together, they constitute the most honest and complete record of her life. All the other many books on Callas are collections of gossip and pure crap.

    • Cousin Bette says:

      Those books are full of self-serving BS that no one takes seriously anymore. The three authors sponged off Callas their entire lives and were only bested by Onassis in abusing and using her.

      • Ludwig's Van says:

        Au contraire, those books contain truth and facts. They did not sponge off of her, and indeed in fact they made her who she was. If anything, Callas sponged off of them. You’ve read too many of those trashy books, I’m afraid.

        • Cousin Bette says:

          Hahaha! They made Callas who she was! Who did the work?

          • Ludwig's Van says:

            Who built the career? She had a husband-manager who worked only for her 24-7 for 12 years while all she did was practice.

      • Fliszt says:

        Well cousin Bette, it seems you’ve digested all the garbage books that have been written about Callas – all authored by folks who never met her, never interviewed her, and were just out to make a quick buck on her. Or perhaps you’ve digested the few existing Callas interviews, where the delusional soprano disingenuously rhapsodizes on how she and Onassis are still such good friends… Well, if making such a romantic fool out of her makes him a good friend, then I can’t imagine who she thought was an enemy.

  • High-Note says:

    As for her “frayed” voice – let’s remember what Tito Gobi had to say on this subject: “Callas did not lose her voice – she lost her confidence.” He knew her well – so he should know.

  • GCMP says:

    If you can get it, the OPERA Magazine series of articles translated from Italian in 1970 are very informative as well!