Google has honored what would have been the 90th birthday of Maria Callas (1923-1977) with its daily doodle. The cartoon features Callas singing on stage; her outstretched hands and the arches of the gilded audience hall form the letters “Google.”
Born in New York to Greek immigrants, Callas spent her childhood in Athens under her mother’s care. She was educated at the Greek National Conservatoire before appearing in minor roles with the Greek National Opera throughout the 1940s.
Callas’s powerful, wide-ranging voice quickly earned her the nickname “La Divina” (The God-Given). Upon reuniting with her father in the United States in 1945, she went on to achieve major success in performances throughout Italy, South America and England.
Her talent had its critics. “Some say I have a beautiful voice, some say I have not. It is a matter of opinion,” she once told a reporter in 1957. “All I can say, those who don’t like it shouldn’t come to hear me.”
Callas’s off-stage antics – a tumultuous relationship with her mother, a hyped rivalry with fellow-soprano Renata Tebaldi, an affair with Aristotle Onassis – were the subject of ongoing media speculation. The legacy of her career and her contributions to classical music are undisputed today. She remains one of the genre’s best-selling artists and, in the words of Leonard Bernstein, “the Bible of opera”.