Callas seen by Maraini III

This is the third (actually, the fourth) installment of Dacia Maraini’s 2007 interview about Maria Callas. Here is the preview, followed by part I and part II.

Tell us about Callas’s love for Pasolini. How did she love him?
They loved each other, but in different ways. She would have married him, but he wouldn’t have married her. She knew that he was a homosexual but believed that she could “redeem” him. Still, Pier Paolo never gave her false hopes. He never said that he would abandon his sexual habits. This love was a pious desire on Maria’s part. As usual, she preferred dreams to realities.

Did she ever sing in private—for example, for you and Moravia?
No, I never heard her sing behind the scenes. She never even hummed a song. She was very protective of her voice and always kept a scarf on hand even when it was hot. She was a singer through and through who knew the delicacy and fragility of the voice.

What did success and popularity mean to her? How did she bear them?
She seemed to take success as something natural, something that was her due given the magnificent voice that was nature’s gift to her. She knew her own worth as a singer, but only that. Otherwise, she was diffident.

When did you stop seeing each other?
When her “love story” with Pasolini ended. What’s more, she lived in Paris, and it was hard to meet up with her.

How did you learn of her death?
I heard it on the radio—early one morning when I got up and turned on the radio. I felt a sense of emptiness. I can’t say that she was a close friend, but we had spent time together in a spirit of affection.

From time to time she would ask me what I thought of Pier Paolo. I think that she didn’t understand him at all and feared disappointing him. Still, I never discouraged her, even if I thought that Pasolini never would have changed his inclinations on her account. Pier Paolo’s love for her was chaste, almost brotherly, even paternal. However, I thought that she had to discover this for herself. I wasn’t there to reproach her or warn her. She was adult enough.

The final installment will follow later this week.

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