Rupert Christiansen

Can everyone please shut up about Maria Callas?

I’m bored of tales of her martyrdom, and the legacies of her less prized contemporaries have so much to offer

Maria Callas, pictured here in 1958, sacrificed her art to ‘a stupid ambition’ to be ‘a great lady of café society’. Credit: Ullstein Bild / Getty Images

One thing that exasperated me intensely during my many years as an opera critic was the assumption that I must be a passionate admirer of Maria Callas. She is the only prima donna who most people have heard of, and her supreme status has long been taken for granted, to the point at which the sound of her voice, as well as her personal story, have fomented a myth, a legend, an icon, and made any rational judgment almost impossible.

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