"I am not an angel and do not
pretend to be. That is not one of my roles. But I am not the devil,
either. I am a woman and a serious artist, and I would like so to
-- Maria Callas
This is the authoritative biography of one
of the great icons of the century, Maria Callas, the most brilliant
and controversial singer-actress of modern times. Written by a
music scholar, opera critic, and, toward the end of Callas' life, a
close friend, Sacred Monster is an account of the singer's
triumphant and tumultuous public career and her private life.
"There are two people in me, Maria and Callas....Their difference
is only that Callas is a celebrity," she remarked. The celebrity
Callas defined an age of opera. The private Callas is a source of
Sacred Monster is not only the
definitive portrait of one of the greatest artists of the century,
it corrects the many misguided books about Callas that have
appeared since her death in 1977 at the age of fifty-three.
Galatopoulos writes about Callas objectively -- recognizing her
flaws, her temperament, and the signs of premature vocal
deterioration. He re-creates the triumph of intelligence, hard
work, musical talent, grit, and fierceness that enabled Callas to
rise to superstardom. He recounts her sometimes stormy
relationships with the conductors, managers, and fellow stars, and
with her family, husband, and lover.
Galatopoulos attended more than a hundred
of Callas' performances and he describes not only the brilliance of
her many triumphs, the disappointments of her setbacks, and the
poignance of her premature decline, but also her legacy, which
resides in her continuing influence and her extensive and valuable
discography. Callas chose to share many of her most frank judgments
about her professional problems with Galatopoulos. Perhaps most
dramatically, in this book, which might almost be called "Callas
Has the Last Word," Galatopoulos sets straight the soap opera
portrait some have drawn of a shattered and reclusive woman
abandoned by her lover, Aristotle Onassis. In fact, Callas and
Onassis resumed their friendship shortly after his marriage to
Jacqueline Kennedy. This portrait of Callas shows her in retirement
every bit as forceful and engaged as she was on stage.
Maria Callas: Sacred Monster is
lavishly illustrated. One hundred pages of photographs show Callas'
roles in a visual documentary of the period 1947 to 1965, a truly
golden age of opera. Many of the images have never before been
published. A complete survey of Callas' recordings and a list of
her performances are also included.