Callas seen by Maraini II

Yesterday I brought you the first part of Dacia Maraini’s 2007 interview about Maria Callas. Here’s more from this interesting piece.

What was your relationship like?
She was reserved at first. Then, little by little, as she got to know me, she became affectionate. I remember her once confiding that she had always gotten everything wrong with men. She said that she had loved Onassis immensely, but that he had been brutal to her. Somewhat comically, she thought that she would convert Pasolini to heterosexuality. She was naïve and sometimes seemed like a little girl. Her love for jewels was that of a poor girl enchanted by a magic ring or dress.

What differences were there between her private behavior, with friends, and with the public?
There were enormous differences, if by “public” you mean opera audiences. She was free from uncertainty, shyness, fears; she was sure and sublime. But in private, with friends, she was awkward, though by nature she was a very controlled person, self-taught, who knew how to get by in life.

Tell us about the long trips that you took with Moravia, Pasolini, and Maria.
We took two long trips to Africa, both a month long, and one to Yemen. Wherever we went, Pasolini and Moravia would disappear when Maria was there. She was a queen, and that’s how they treated her. Heads of state came to greet her, planes and cars were put at her disposal. But she didn’t avail herself of them—on the contrary, she tended to resist getting involved with authorities.

She was used to luxury hotels, but she adapted even to hostels, which is what happened when we were travelling through central Africa in Land Rovers. We lodged where we could.

The funniest thing? Once, in a large hotel, I went up to tell her that dinner was ready, and I found her in a dressing gown, sitting in front of the radio. I thought that she was listening to an opera. To my surprise, she was listening, rapt, to one of Nilla Pizzi’s songs.

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