NEWS

Callas notes auctioned

ROME (AP) – Auctioneers have sold several letters that opera diva Maria Callas wrote in the late 1960s during the unraveling of her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The letters, as well as several photos, were sold by an anonymous owner through Christie’s auction house in Rome yesterday. The hottest items were five letters to Callas’s voice teacher Elvira De Hidalgo. These reveal the diva’s anger over Onassis’s marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy and also speak of her career difficulties. One letter, discussing the wedding of Onassis and the US president’s widow, was sold to an Israeli for almost 6,000 euros (about $6,000), far exceeding the selling-price estimates of 2,000-3,000 euros (about $2,000-$3,000). «The worst thing is that he didn’t tell me anything about his marriage,» Callas wrote. «I think he had the obligation after nine years at his side – at least not to have me learn it from the newspapers.» Writing earlier of the breakup of their relationship, Callas said: «I’m reasonably well under the circumstances – but it’s as if I took an enormous blow – and I can’t breathe any more.» That letter was sold to an American buyer for 3,720 euros (about $3,700). In total, seven of 11 lots were sold, bringing in more than 18,500 euros (18,500). Callas died in 1977 at age 54, her legendary voice in decline. The downturn in her career was long blamed on her breakup with Onassis, but recently an Italian doctor who examined her in 1975 said disease and not heartbreak had caused her voice to decline.