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Maria Callas Remembered: An Intimate Portrait of the Private Callas (edition 1986)
Maria Callas Remembered: An Intimate Portrait of the Private Callas by Nadia Stancioff
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0306809672, Paperback)Nadia Stancioff was Maria Callas's friend during the diva's unhappy final years, starting as a publicist for Callas's film of Medea. Interviewing people who had known her earlier, Stancioff sought to explore the woman from the inside--"Maria," not "Callas." Though the result offers no real information we haven't seen before, it is delivered in a personal voice that makes this memoir (first published in 1987) worth reading.
There's plenty about Callas's appearance and love life, but the tone is chatty rather than trashy. The events that Stancioff herself was there for were not especially significant (she was present, however, when Onassis paid his first visit to an agitated Callas after his marriage to Jackie Kennedy). More valuable are the stories she hears from colleagues, fans, and the singer's elusive sister. The one subtle, and indeed moving, touch is something the author doesn't do: she declines to resolve the contradictions people tell her. Maria's mother pushed her into singing; it was Maria's own desire. Maria's family was kept in luxury during World War II by her sister's boyfriend; Maria ate out of garbage cans. In the '40s, the Met offered her roles that she turned down; there was no offer. The stories aren't reconciled because Callas can't be: she exists only in the kaleidoscope of other people's impressions. Stancioff's own Maria is a difficult woman--capricious, superhumanly insecure--to whom she is utterly loyal.
The unanswered questions surrounding Callas's death have been discussed elsewhere, such as in Maria Callas: Sacred Monster. As speculated on by the chorus of voices here, the mystery is particularly unsettling. Neither Callas nor, perhaps, anyone who cared about her was in control of what she left behind. It's a sad end to the tale of a tortured woman whose aura is as strong as ever but who was, ultimately, no more knowable than any of us. --David Olivenbaum
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:14:35 -0400)
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