Brilliant! Fascinating and very well written.
The 20th century
has had some first rate female singers from the sublime Geraldine
Farrar to the great Maria Callas!
It is not always remembered that Callas lived in
Greece from 1937 to 1945 (aged thirteen to twenty one) and here
she developed into the sensational singer she became.
There are some tremendous insights in this book,
notably what a splendid father George Kaloyeropoulos was to Mary,
as Maria was called, and how equally good he was to the elder daughter
Jackie. But his marriage to Litsa was a mistake. She was a dreadful
woman. Jackie called her a tyrant. She was incapable of showing
love or affection. Litsa’s dominance made George weak since he hated
confrontations as he knew it could damage the girls emotionally.
Mary was only happy when not with her mother. When Mary was knocked
down and could have been killed all her mother could do was to chastise
her. On another occasion Litsa took an overdose of belladonna. This
probably ended her marriage to the dependable George.
When Mary’s talents were realised her mother took
over and therefore planted further seeds of anxiety and personality
problems in Mary. It is the Lillian Roth story all over again. To
add to the difficulties Mary was plump and called 'the fat girl'.
This added to her unhappiness. Her mother used to dress her in a
sort of black smock with a white collar which dress was often dirty.
She did not want any young fellow to take Mary away from her which
might have happened if the youngster was nicely dressed.
The family left New York to return to Greece in
1937 and Mary went to the Athens Conservatory where the legendary
Elvira de Hidalgo taught. Athens had other great musicians such
as Manolis Kalomiris and Dimitri Mitropoulos.
Mary made her debut in Cavalleria Rusticana in
Athens in 1939.
Buy the book which also includes details of Callas’s
life after the Greek years. It reveals how Onassis abused her just
as her mother had. She lost a child with him and when she fell pregnant
again he insisted on an abortion! Is this what ended her career?
Her last performances were sad. She was tired, ill and emotionally
Incidentally. she was versatile. Unlike other singers
she did not stick to Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini.
Linda Karen Dowson