Brough's Books on Maria Callas

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Greek Fire : The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis
by Nicholas Gage
Nicholas Gage's meticulously documented and consistently absorbing account chronicles the stormy love affair between Maria Callas (1923-77) and Aristotle Onassis (1906-75). Gage sees the soprano who reinvented the art of opera and the tycoon who transformed the shipping industry as kindred spirits, drawn into romance by a deep connection to their Greek origins and a shared sense that, despite all they had achieved, something was missing. They found that absent element in a once-in-a-lifetime passion, which Onassis betrayed by marrying Jacqueline Kennedy in 1968. Gage appears to share the view of the tycoon's Greek coterie, who viewed this marriage as an act of hubris that inevitably led to financial and personal reversals which embittered Onassis in his final years. But he doesn't blame the tycoon for Callas's decline, pointing out that by the time they met, she was already experiencing severe vocal problems and was eager for respite from her taxing performance commitments. In any case, her career and his business dealings take a back seat here to Gage's evocative portrait of his subjects' outsized personalities and the jet-set society in the gaudy postwar years. Some of the new information is revelatory, particularly Gage's persuasive contention that Callas bore Onassis a son who died hours after his birth in 1960. At other times his investigative-journalist approach seems too weighty for this highly personal story of love, rage, and big, big egos. Fortunately, these lapses don't seriously mar a text distinguished by smooth prose, the seamless interweaving of several narrative strands, and a warm sympathy for its genuinely tragic protagonists. --Wendy Smith -
Hardcover: 422 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.55 x 9.54 x 6.68
Publisher: Knopf; (October 3, )
ISBN: 0375402446

Maria Callas Remembered: An Intimate Portrait of the Private Callas
by Nadia Stancioff
Nadia Stancioff was Maria Callas's friend during the diva's unhappy final years, starting as a publicist for Callas's film of Medea. Interviewing people who had known her earlier, Stancioff sought to explore the woman from the inside--"Maria," not "Callas." Though the result offers no real information we haven't seen before, it is delivered in a personal voice that makes this memoir (first published in 1987) worth reading.

There's plenty about Callas's appearance and love life, but the tone is chatty rather than trashy. The events that Stancioff herself was there for were not especially significant (she was present, however, when Onassis paid his first visit to an agitated Callas after his marriage to Jackie Kennedy). More valuable are the stories she hears from colleagues, fans, and the singer's elusive sister. The one subtle, and indeed moving, touch is something the author doesn't do: she declines to resolve the contradictions people tell her. Maria's mother pushed her into singing; it was Maria's own desire. Maria's family was kept in luxury during World War II by her sister's boyfriend; Maria ate out of garbage cans. In the '40s, the Met offered her roles that she turned down; there was no offer. The stories aren't reconciled because Callas can't be: she exists only in the kaleidoscope of other people's impressions. Stancioff's own Maria is a difficult woman--capricious, superhumanly insecure--to whom she is utterly loyal.

The unanswered questions surrounding Callas's death have been discussed elsewhere, such as in Maria Callas: Sacred Monster. As speculated on by the chorus of voices here, the mystery is particularly unsettling. Neither Callas nor, perhaps, anyone who cared about her was in control of what she left behind. It's a sad end to the tale of a tortured woman whose aura is as strong as ever but who was, ultimately, no more knowable than any of us. --David Olivenbaum -
Paperback: 258 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.73 x 8.99 x 5.85
Publisher: DaCapo Press;
ISBN: 0306809672

Maria Callas : An Intimate Biography
by Anne Edwards
Anne Edwards has made a career out of writing intelligent biographies of prominent women, from the tortured (Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland) to the indomitable (Katharine Hepburn, Shirley Temple). Her gift for vivid characterization and lively narrative is once again in evidence in this readable portrait of opera's revolutionary diva, Maria Callas (1923-77).

Edwards doesn't add anything new to the well-known story of Callas' tumultuous life, and she disagrees with Nicholas Gage's controversial assertion (in the book Greek Fire) that Callas bore Aristotle Onassis a son who died shortly after his birth in 1960. But the author lays out the familiar facts deftly, nailing each of the forceful personalities who shaped Callas' destiny, from the obsessively ambitious mother who pushed her into performing and denied her a childhood to Onassis, the great love of her life, who broke her heart after a nine-year affair when he married Jacqueline Kennedy. Most forceful of all is Callas herself, who transformed opera with the revelation that great singing became even greater when buttressed by great acting.

Callas' fanatical devotion to the libretto, her deep understanding of character, and her incomparable musicianship get as much attention from Edwards as her famous feuds (most notably with Renata Tebaldi), the diet that transformed her into a sex symbol, and the notorious cancellations that occurred with increasing frequency to match the worsening of her vocal problems, which eventually forced her retirement from performing. The result is an exemplary popular biography that judiciously balances juicy anecdotes with critical commentary, giving the general reader a colorful, poignant portrait of Maria Callas the woman without ever losing sight of Callas the visionary artist. --Wendy Smith -
Hardcover: 400 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.26 x 9.56 x 6.46
Publisher: St. Martin's Press;
ISBN: 0312269862

The Autobiography of Maria Callas: A Novel
by Alma H. Bond
Alma Halbert Bond is a retired Freudian psychoanalyst whose love of opera and the fabled soprano Maria Callas led her to write this partly fictionalized psycho-autobiography, in the form of a novel. This is an ambitious psychological look at Callas's life, and Bond's claim to authority is in the analytical end, not the historian's craft, but she has done her homework. Some intense Callas fans have taken Bond fiercely to task for even daring to write a book dealing with their goddess's motivations and feelings. No one can know what goes on in the mind of another, and this sort of psychological analysis--which does not benefit from any first-hand consultation with its subject--can only be educated guesswork at best. Still, many of Bond's educated guesses make sense and help to fill in the puzzle that was Maria Callas. If the first-person narrative sometimes fails to work as planned, Bond's love of her subject shines through, and fans of the great diva should give this book a try. --Sarah Bryan Miller -
Paperback: 224 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.67 x 8.91 x 5.93
Publisher: Birch Brook Pr; 1 edition (May 1, )
ISBN: 0913559482

Callas by Callas : The Secret Writing of 'LA Maria'

Maria Callas : Sacred Monster
by Stelios Galatopoulos
Maria Callas is a biographer's dream. Born into poverty, she turned herself from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, and in the process became the most celebrated diva of the 20th century. She breathed life, drama, and passion into an art form that had hitherto remained the preserve of an intellectual elite, and was single-handedly responsible for turning opera from an arts-page sideshow to front-page news. Her bust-ups with the New York Met and her disastrous love life--culminating in a tragic obsession with Aristotle Onassis--were as enthralling as her voice, and there was a depressing inevitability about her mysterious, early death in 1977 at the age of 54.

It's hardly surprising, then, that there have been any number of books written about Callas. Most have been little more than well-researched clippings jobs. Callas spent nearly 30 years in the public eye, and there is any amount of material about her on public record. What separates Stelios Galatopoulos from the rest of her biographers is the wealth of previously unpublished material from which he draws. He is stronger than most on Callas's early years--particularly the German occupation of Greece during the Second World War--which is a period many writers try to ignore, as Callas was accused by many Greek patriots of having been a traitor to her country by continuing to perform for the Nazis in the Athens opera house. Galatopoulos is quick to absolve her of any charges of collaboration. This is probably a correct assessment, though he falls short of labeling Callas and her mother as the ruthless careerists and opportunists they undoubtedly were.

Herein lie both the strength and weakness of the book. Galatopoulos was a close personal friend of Callas; as such he was privy to her most private thoughts and he offers us some fascinating new insights into her husband, Giovanni Meneghini; her lover Aristotle Onassis; and her mother. What he doesn't always do, though, is maintain a critical eye. Whenever he deals with anything controversial, he is happy to give Callas the benefit of the doubt. But all this is really a minor quibble. Overall, Galatopoulos does a superb job in re-creating the opera world of the 1940s through to the 1970s and he excels in his assessment of Callas's artistic achievements. Maria Callas: Sacred Monster may not be the final word on the diva, but it's as close as it comes. --John Crace -
Hardcover: 544 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.75 x 10.50 x 8.25
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; (April )
ISBN: 0684859858
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Maria Callas : The Tigress and the Lamb

Maria Meneghini Callas
by Michael Scott
Publisher: Northeastern University Press; (September 1992) 

Maria Callas

Diva : The Life and Death of Maria Callas

Maria Callas

Maria Callas : j'ai vâecu d'art, j'ai vâecu d'amour
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La vera storia di Maria Callas : con documenti inediti
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Un amore di Maria Callas
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Kenneth Harris talking to Maria Callas [and others]

Maria Callas

Maria Callas

My Daughter Maria Callas
by Evangelia. Callas
Publisher: Ayer Co Pub; (June 1977)
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Maria Callas, a tribute

My Wife Maria Callas
by G. B. Meneghini
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