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Maria Callas: The Woman behind the Legend Paperback – October 14, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The most readable and by far the most illuminating biography to date of Callas the woman...Compulsive and convincing reading (The Times (UK), (London))

The author has entered the complex and contradictory mind of Maria Callas in an extraordinary way, and the result is a powerful story told movingly yet without exaggeration. It is unquestionably an important book, and surely the finest biography of Callas ever written. (John Ardoin, Author of The Callas Legacy)

She will have the people of Cailornia in her heart. I know that becasue i experienced it. (Pauline Lubens San Jose Mercury News)

About the Author

Arianna Huffington, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Picasso, How to Overthrow the Government, and The Fourth Instinct, divides her time between Los Angeles and Washington, D. C.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press; 1st edition (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815412282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815412281
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By April Pastis on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I can't believe no one has reviewed this book...so although I have never written one before here goes....

Critics say that this is the best book on the intensely private yet captivating Maria Callas. I'll go farther than that and say that it is the best biography I have personally EVER read and I am a huge fan of biographies. Yet, I can't quite put my finger on why its so good. Maybe its because Arianna Stassinopoulos shows a profound empathy for the diva or perhaps it's because she interviewed practically every living person who knew her. Maria Callas, the love interest of Aristotle Onassis who later dropped her for Jacqueline Kennedy, and of course the greatest dramatic opera singer who ever lived, is brought to life right in front of you in this fantastic, well ..... just read this book. You'll love it as much as I do.
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Format: Hardcover
(To the reviewer before me: Now we're two.)

I have not read any other biography on Callas, but I listen to her avidly (her La Wally aria is particularly addictive) and have her Tosca performance on DVD as well as the documentary Maria Callas: Life and Art. But Callas's music alone has always made me wonder about her. Such deeply mined emotions in her singing, such ferocity, such purity, such power. How does she get all these in her performances? Where does she mine them? Zefirelli has compared her to Michelangelo, Bernstein has called her the greatest artist in the world. This book answers these questions and explains why. I have to say that it is a compulsive page-turner, even now in the twenty-first century where opera is no longer mainstream. There's always something interesting in each page. At the same time the biographer doesn't belabor a particular episode or detail in Maria's life as to make it boring or overly dramatized. And Arianna Stassinopoulos is no Kitty Kelly: everything seems very well-researched and reliable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had never really liked Maria Callas as a singer, until I read Arianna Stassinopoulos/Huffington's' book "Maria Callas - the Woman Behind the Legend." It is a brilliantly researched, beautifully written and very moving book, and totally changed my perceptions of La Callas.
I realised why her voice had sounded hard on the complete recording of "Carmen" I have with her in the title role. She was such a superb stage performer, as well as a wonderful singer, that she played "Carmen" as a hard-bitten, promiscuous woman, and adapted her voice to match. Moreover the book chronicled the massive frustrations, uncertainty and unhappiness that Callas suffered, as a sad counter-balance to her phenomenal success as an opera performer - possibly the greatest dramatic soprano, ever!

The book, which I bought through Amazon, was in great condition, at a very reasonable price, and I will treasure it. It has added a new dimension and enjoyment to this old bloke's understanding of great music.
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Format: Hardcover
The number one recall I have about this book still haunts me to this day... her abortion. Onasis giving her the choice, him or the child.
Haunting. Horrible.
Above all, this book was a major "undertaking" for the author which she executed superbly! What a story! What a book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard my first Maria Callas record when I was ten years old. Horrified by the screeching, scraping sound, I ran out of the room. For years, I vowed never to listen to her voice again.

As the years passed, the few opera loving people I knew would give me a puzzled look whenever I confessed that I not only didn't like Callas -- I loathed her.

One day, I overheard Tosca being sung by a ringing, glorious voice, ripe and golden. I was astonished to learn that the singer was La Divina. Okay, the top notes wobbled, blah, blah, blah, but boy oh boy, the precision of the coloratura passages, the mind behind the delivery, the phrasing -- you get the point. I was hooked! I had never experienced such a reversal in my belief system in my life. The singer I loathed was now a singer I adored.

This book makes my understanding of Maria Callas, and how her voice got to be what it became, even more profound. The writing is easy and effortless, flowing naturally from point to point. The tragic beginning of her life, clawing her way note by note up the world's stages was magnificently depicted by a writer with clearly magical chops.

Simply, this is the magical story of a myopic New York girl with a big, natural voice who fell on the doorstep of a great Spanish coloratura soprano who happened to be teaching in Greece, who seized the world stage where she was cheered as loudly as she was booed (at the same time!) and who fell in love with a philandering Greek tycoon, who dumped her for a president's widow. How on earth did she find all the material to fill out the book, when the subject was a notoriously cranky hermit?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maria Callas~~ she gave everything for her art, and then, everything
for love. This fascinating, thoroughly researched biography feels like
a novel, it is riveting, and beautifully written.
You hear her voice and fall in love with it, you see her face in photos
and you are captivated. When you read her story you will begin to understand how much she gave to us, with such great love and sacrifice,
for her beautiful art.
She was a powerful spirit who lived every moment to the fullest.
A fabulous book by Arianna Huffington! Grazie Mille!
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