2 December: Maria Callas was born on this 1923

One of the totally forbidden moves in Greco-Roman wrestling is the “neck hold”. And if our Greek prima donna could speak to us today, she might be able to recount several episodes when she either struck, or was herself struck, below the belt: her presumed collusion with German officers during the occupation of Greece, followed by those unhappy loves of hers, first with impresario Giovanni Battista Meneghini, then with Aristotle Onassis. And, last but not least, with film director Pier Paolo Pasolini who, unbeknownst to her, cut out her voice and had her dubbed in his film “Medea”  where she played the title role.

At a certain point in her career also her vocal chords were cut short and never recovered. But what this “dramatic coloratura soprano” managed to accomplish during her heyday (from 1952 to 1957)  is unrivalled to this day. Callas had an incredibly wide-ranging, powerful and dark voice: they’re not our words, nor those of the critics, but of the public who to this day, and in all the languages under the sun, still leave comment on her videos on YouTube.

Maria Callas died alone in Paris in 1977; her ashes were scattered in the Aegean Sea. This flower may not be the “sacred ancient plant” she sings about in “Norma” but, if unravelled and turned into a silk necktie, it’ll certainly be more comfortable that the infamous “neck hold”.

Name Day:
St Bibiana