Callas 90

Today it has been 90 years since Maria Callas was born. I wish her „Happy Birthday!”, even though some malicious rumours, persisting even since she was still singing, say that she died in the autumn of 1977. This is the biggest conspiracy ever imagined. Maria did not die and she did not stop singing either.

I see her in front of me right now, singing. She is dressed in a deep red dress and she is wearing a same fabric shawl, covering her naked shoulders. Around her neck – a golden necklace, shining brilliantly. On her left hand – a ruby ring, in her ears – diamond earrings. Her hairdo is impeccable and extremely elegant. She hasn’t grown old at all, she looks as if she were 35. The audience applause her deliriously, unable to stop, but the sadness on her face, meaning that she has not quit the role yet, that she has something more to say, stops me from applauding and makes me wait for what comes next. A chorus, even more moved than the entire audience, starts to sing Miserere…  And she is waiting for me to sing: Non ti scordar di me! Leonora, addio! 

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It is only 1958, in Paris. There are 19 more years to the fatidic day of September 16th, 1977, when, as a matter of fact, we are the ones who started to die, little by little, every single day. So that she would look for us, without seeing us, and she would sing, for us and us only, in our own homes, in the loudspeakers of our more and more sophisticated audio hi-fi systems, on the more and more numerous screens we watch closely every day – Di te, di te scordarmi!!…

In 1994 I did not even know, I did not even presume, I could not even imagine that, when I first listened to Maria Callas, it was already too late. Too late for me. I had entered directly the infinite group of her admirers who had been watching how, since 1977, the world of the opera was changing and how it was also disappearing little by little.

Only after having discovered the Tosca of 1953, the Lucia of 1955, the Traviata of 1958, the Medea of 1958 or any Norma, I realized that I would never meet Maria Callas. I would never cry Bravo!, I would never give her a flower, I would never ask for an autograph, never look her in the eyes, never kiss her, never hold her hand, never make her call me by my name. But that I would always see her young and I would imagine, while listening to her recordings, only me and her, alone, in my home, that she would sing forever just for me. That she would call me in different ways, Mario! Mario! Mario!, or Amami, Alfredo, quant’io t’amo. Addio! or Giasone – Torna a me! Torna sposo per me!, but she would never pronounce my real name.

And the years will pass and in every new voice that will create a sensation at La Scala or at the Metropolitan, in Paris or in Vienna, I will always look for her, without finding her, hoping that maybe another soprano will replace her. These will be only illusions, stolen moments, because, for tens of years, nobody has managed to replace her.

Today is the 2nd of December, her birthday. I will choose a recording, with one of her five biggest roles (Floria, Violetta, Medea, Norma, Lucia), I will decide which one on the spot, after spreading all of them on the table. And I will spend the evening with her until late, after midnight. Tonight, Maria and I, we will talk until sunrise…

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