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 be judged."
-- Maria Callas
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 lasting fascination.
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,
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.
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.