Maria Callas, American-born Greek soprano, 1923-1977
Many critics praised Callas' bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini, further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as "La Divina". Forced to deal with the exigencies of 1940s wartime poverty and with near-sightedness that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. The press exulted in publicizing Callas's temperamental behavior, and her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.