Looking at a book on Callas in the bookshop. She was a diva and an icon: of femininity, of the 50s and 60s, of opera, of art, of glamour, of Greece, of the determination to succeed. She had an indomitable will, which she was to a certain extent a slave to. She willed herself to be the greatest soprano in the world with an instrument that was unwieldy and at times unkind. She willed herself to die after Onassis’s death. It took time, but she succeeded in the end, just as she succeeded in everything else.
The reason why she was the greatest opera singer that ever was or will be is tied up with the fact that she was Greek, and as such, was able to tap into the roots of opera, which go right back, through Monteverdi, to the ancient Greek tragedies. Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides. She had a commitment to the singing and the drama that borders on the terrible: we watch her in horrified fascination.
In an era of not inconsiderable talent, she made everyone else look like louche lounge singers.