Maria Callas in the news

  • Francesco Renga, a past winner of the Sanremo Music Festival, recently recorded a popular song in duet with Daniela Dessì and had this to say about a concert in which he will mix musical genres (emphasis added): “An audience that has never seen an opera, fascinated by the evening’s other guests—Lucio Dalla, Gianni Morandi, Riccardo Cocciante—will be able to understand what’s behind this opera that seems so distant, but in reality is a popular [means of] expression from a few decades ago. Opera was a kind of television ante litteram or like concerts by rock stars that we see now. Maria Callas was a diva just like U2 today.”
  • Old news: In 2007, the Poste Italiane issued a Maria Callas stamp.
  • Giuseppina Grassi, a singer who taught Giuditta Pasta and was reportedly one of Napoléon’s lovers, is now remembered as la Callas delle Prealpi. There is a proposal to name a music library in Varese after Grassi.
  • The Maria Callas rubbish bins that you read about earlier are now a reality. Franco Zeffirelli, to his credit, deems “blasphemous” the juxtaposition of a pop-art image of Callas with “cigarette butts, dirty tissues, banana peels, and chewing gum.”
  • To stay on the subject of trash, Alfonso Signorini, the eminent gossipparo and author of a “novel” about Maria Callas, presided over an evening dedicated to her memory in Sirmione, during which excerpts from his magnum opus were declaimed by the actress Serena Autieri. MilanoWeb.com draws an unkind but telling contrast between José Saramago’s work and Signorini’s “festival of nullity.” (In Italian, this is called a stroncatura, and it’s a beautiful thing.)
  • I have read Signorini’s “novel” and consider it noteworthy only insofar as it may inspire a revival of book burning. From time to time, rumors fly that it will be adapted as a film. (Please, G-d, NO.)
  • Maria Callas’s “mysterious death” was examined on the Italian television show Top Secret, whose producers are apparently unfamiliar with the language of Dante and Michelangelo.
  • A young poet by the name of Alessio Esposito Langella has published a collection of poems, Granelli di sabbia, which includes a poem and/or a drawing (the article is unclear) inspired by Maria Callas.
  • A play about Aristotle Onassis is to open on London’s West End.
  • A costume that Maria Callas wore in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Norma is on exhibit in France. (The image above shows Callas with Simionato during the Norma run.)
  • With thanks to the friend who sent the link: In La Ville-aux-Dames, near Tours, there is a statue of Maria Callas by the sculptor Michel Audiard (scroll down to see it).
  • Maria Callas is one of Rufus Wainwright’s icons, but we knew this.
  • The film adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Master Class directed by Faye Dunaway is in post-production, slated to be released later this year.


  1. How many news about Callas! I hope the hommages be even greater as her centennary arrives.

    The book by Signorini is that pseudo-biography of Callas? I've heard something about it, but didn't wanted to read it yet...

    It'll be very interesting to see a movie based on McNally's play!

  2. Signorini's book is a "novel," "Troppo fiera, troppo fragile." It is despicable in every way, I'm sorry to say. Signorini is someone who knows nothing about music and nothing about writing, so you can imagine...

    Before the Callas centenary (2023) we have Verdi (2013)! Fun! Thank you for writing, Marion

  3. It's really difficult when a non-writer, who's also a non-musician, tries to write a book about music - because talking about Callas is also talking about music, n'est-ce pas?

    You're totally right, 2013 will also be a extremely special year! (And maybe until there I can finish one of my own operas... :-D)