Today’s Google logo honors opera great Maria Callas on what would have been the singer’s 90th birthday. Born Sophia Cecelia Kalos in New York City on this date in 1923, Maria Callas was a Greek soprano who would become one of the most celebrated opera singers of her time.
Along with her mother and sister, Callas moved to Greece as a child following her mother and father’s split. She began her musical education in Athens, and would go on to study under Elvira de Hidalgo at the Athens Conservatoire, honing her talents as a Bel Canto performer. Callas would have more than 50 opera performances before moving back to the States just before her 22nd birthday.
Callas turned down a contract from the Metropolitan Opera before leaving to begin a career in Italy. There she would meet her first husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini and work with conductor Tullio Serafin, cast as a soprano in the Arena di Verona’s production of La Gioconda. Serafin would also cast Callas as Isolde in his production of Tristan und Isolde.
Callas won the opera world over with her performance as Elvira in I puritani at the Teatro la Fenice opera house. The role would highlight the opera singer’s range and lead to a number of new roles.
Callas’ life was plagued with controversy, starting with the difficult relationship she endured with her mother and spanning all the way to her death, a heart attack at the age of 53, rumored to be caused by Callas’ use of sleeping aids. Her legacy would include multiple recordings, acting roles, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award given posthumously to the singer in 2007. Callas’ image was even used in an Apple Computer “Think Differently” ad in 1998.