« La Callas du music-hall »

Dalida, born on 17 January 1933, was known in her time as La Callas du music-hall. Sprung from puffery, the epithet nonetheless points to interesting parallels between the two artists.

Both were “exotics,” at home nowhere, almost without a native tongue. (Dalida was born in Egypt to Italian parents and spent most of her life in France.) Both exemplified public glamour and private unhappiness—to the extent that either woman was granted privacy.

Both underwent striking physical transformations and mastered an astonishing variety of musical styles (ranging, in Dalida’s case, from bubblegum pop and yé-yé to disco and the chanson d’auteur). Both sang with arresting intensity and gave unsparingly of themselves to music and their public.

Both, too, enjoy a cult following among gays. (Dalida spoke out early and forcefully for gay rights.)

Both died in their early fifties—Dalida of an overdose of barbiturates in 1987.

Callas crossed paths with Sylvie Vartan and Johnny Hallyday, contemporaries of Dalida, but I do not know whether she ever met Dalida.

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