September 23, 2014

Concert has raised funds for Maria Callas museum and opera academy

A glittering gala in the shadow of the Acropolis helps transform the diva's Athens home into a museum.

In 2015, Greece will pay tribute to one of its most beloved and iconic daughters, Maria Callas, with a Museum-Opera Academy dedicated to the Greek-American soprano.

On Sunday evening, 21 September, thousands of music lovers gathered at the foot of the Acropolis hill for an opera gala hosted by the Association for the Maria Callas House and the Greek National Opera. Local and international stars sang arias La Divana herself had recorded and performed on stage during her tragically short but unparalleled career as the prima donna assoluta.

The proceeds of the concert at Herodeion will go towards the restoration of the neoclassical Athens residence overlooking the Acropolis where Callas lived during the Second World War from 1940-1945 as a teenager, before returning to the United States.

"This museum is the least we can do to honourr the great diva," Mayor of Athens Yorgos Kaminis said in a statement.

Slated to open in 2015, the museum will showcase Callas' personal effects alongside a rich archive of photos and audiovisual materials. A library of books and records will be open for the public, along with a hall for temporary exhibitions, master classes and small-scale opera recitals. The projected cost is 1 million euros.

Maria Callas (originally Maria Anna Sophia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou) was born into a Greek family in New York in 1923, but returned with her mother to Greece as a teenager and was admitted to the National Conservatory in Athens, where she studied with Maria Trivella.

The budding soprano made her professional debut as Beatrice in Boccaccio at the Palas Cinema in Athens, 1941, and went on to sing in Tosca, TieflandCavalleria rusticana, Fidelio and Der Bettelstudent with the same company.

Callas died in Paris in 1977, at the age of 53, and her ashes were scattered over the Aegean Sea.

The Maria Callas Remastered Edition pays tribute to the legendary diva with her complete studio recordings remastered from her original tapes with groundbreaking techniques at Abbey Road Studios.