A Greek-American soprano with an utterly extraordinary voice, recognizable in a split second, pure and piercing. She is beyond compare; no-one else has ever had anything like that kind of voice. She was also a superb actor with it. She specialized in Italian grand opera, Bellini and Verdi and Puccini, but she also did superb Wagner and Gluck.

She was born Cecilia Sophia Maria Anna Kalogeropoulos in New York on 3 December 1923, returned to Greece at the age of 13, studying at the Athens Conservatoire. Her star debut was as Tosca, a role that she made hers forever, in Athens on 4 July 1941. She leapt to world fame with her performance in Ponchielli's La Gioconda at Verona in 1947. Her La Scala debut was as Aida in 1950; and for her debuts at London in 1952, Chicago in 1954, and New York in 1956 she was Norma. She debuted at Paris in 1958.

She married the industrialist G.B. Meneghini in 1949 and in later years was associated with Aristotle Onassis. She first sang with Giuseppe di Stefano (he was superb too) in 1951, in São Paulo. Her voice changed by about 1960 and she was no longer at her peak. Her final opera performance was as Tosca at Covent Garden in 1965, and thereafter she gave some master classes and one final tour with di Stefano. She died in Paris in September 1977, Onassis having ditched her for Jacqueline Kennedy.

Callas had a fanous rivalry with Renata Tebaldi - or it might be more accurate to say the two sopranos' fans had a vociferous rivalry. Callas and Tebaldi had a very emotional reconciliation.

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