1The Life Span of Maria Callas Adreena Lind Psychology 300 October 1st, 2012 Shane Williamson
2 Maria Callas, is one of the most influential and world renowned operatic figures of alltime. Maria Callas was an extraordinary woman with an equally extraordinary life. She wasbeautiful and was gifted with a voice like no other singer, but she also suffered a very sad andemotional deprived childhood. Maria’s childhood strongly influenced her passions and life. Sherose from a troubled youth and poverty to become the most influential and powerful woman inOpera. Maria was born in Manhattan, New York, to Greek parents on December 2, 1923.Maria’s birth name is Sophia Cecilia Kalos; her last name was shorted by her father to make itmore tolerable and ultimately changes to Callas, but her christened name was Anna Maria SofiaCecilia Kalogeropoulou, (Sieglohr, 2012). Maria grew up in Astoria, Queens, New York with hermother, Evangelia, her father, George, and her older sister, Yakinthi. Callas’ mother had a preference for Maria’s older sister Jackie, who was also a talentedsinger and very attractive. In fact, it is said that Callas’ mother refused to hold or even look atMaria as an infant because wanted a son. Maria’s mother was the driving force behind hersinging and pursuing a career in music. Callas’ mother pushed her to sing from the early age offive. After years of strain in her parents’ marriage Maria’s mother and father eventuallydivorced. At age 13, her father stayed in the United States, and Callas moved back to Greecewith her mother and older sister. Callas’ mother tried to enroll her into to one’s Greece mostprestige’s music schools, the Athens Conservatoire. Maria’s voice was strong enough, but shewas only 13 at the time and was not allowed to attend the school. This was the turning point for Maria Callas, after the rejection, her mother decided tosend her to audition for the Greek National Conservatoire. Her instructor, Maria Trivella, at theGreek National Conservatoire, believed her voice was strong enough to be enrolled in the school,even though it was still untamed, and wild. Maria Trivella, was so impressed that she Maria
3Callas on as a pupil for free. Callas had a beautiful voice, even at such a young age. Maria wassaid to be a dedicated pupil, she spend hours and hours learning techniques to prefect her voice.After further training Maria’s mother requested an audition at the Athens Conservatoire onceagain. The second audition went much better than the first; Maria was accepted into the schooland also began sing for work, at the request of her mother. The ambition that Maria’s mother and the events of her childhood would eventually teartheir relationship apart; she felt her childhood was taken from her, because she was made towork and study music at such a young age, (Lambton, 2012). Maria’s mother insisted for her tocontinue her studies in music and for her to support the family financially. Her mother’sinfluence on her strongly impacted her self-esteem in later years, often thought she wasunwanted or uncared for by her mother, and in her craft she was unsatisfied with her ownabilities. According to Erik Erickson, when children are told they are not good enough by theirparents or care givers, in the stage known as industry versus inferiority, it will often be reflectedas negative feelings later in life, (Kowalski &Westen, 2011). I think in this way Maria Callas fits both the cognitive-social theory of personality andthe humanistic theory of personality. Maria Callas had a strong work ethic; she self-regulatedevery aspect of her vocal ability and physical appearance, (Kowalski &Westen, 2011). MariaCallas, had an amazing gift, but because she observed her mother’s negative feelings toward heras a child, she was unable to see her own greatness. Maria needed the applause and approval ofthe audience, and the people around her to feel confident and happy after her performances. Onthe other hand, Maria’s motivation for singing rose becoming almost parallel to, if notsurpassing, her mother’s goal. Perhaps she did this in an effort to gain the approval of hermother, which would explain her taking her mother with her on an Opera tour in Mexico, in
41950, (Sieglohr, 2012). The drive of Maria’s mother, who also wanted to be a famous singer aswell as her negative views toward Maria and forcing her so intensely to be singer could beapplied in the humanistic category, (Kowalski &Westen, 2011). Callas’ ability to sing, and learn quickly was inherited and paved her way to fame andfortune, but her emotional environment drove her. Callas also always seemed to be reaching forperfection; she often commented that she had to learn to accept the sound of her singing voice.Maria was of acting out; a “Diva” with a fire temperament and overly dramatic personality,(Sieglohr, 2012). The push of her mother to sing as a children and the strain of that and otherpersonal relationships reflected on her psychological development. For example, during her teenyears she had spent little time with her father, and in her adult years seems to flock toward mucholder men. Her husband, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, was 28 years her senior, and years laterbegan a courtship with Aristotle Onassis. Both men were also very wealthy, which could havealso been the result of her mother’s influence and desire for wealth and the finer things in life. Her ability to sing was not the only thing that was affected by her childhood, it alsoseemed to cast a dark shadow over her personally life, as well. Maria seemed to a great deal ofherself as well as the people around her. In truth she was probably her biggest critic; going as faras losing close to 80 pounds in a year, to be better suit for a particular role and because ofcomments on her weight, (Lambton, 2012). Maria’s ability to sing was truly a gift, and sheworked diligently to perfect her craft. Maria was influenced in through her childhood; the besttheory to explain her personality would be humanistic. Sadly the pressure to perform eventuallycaught up with her in the later years. She began to lose some of her magnificent ability toperform and sing with the enthusiasm and in 1977 she died in alone in her Paris apartment of aheart attack, (Sieglohr, 2012).
5References:Lambton, S. (2012, March/April).The Young Maria Callas.Musical Opinion, Vol. 135 (Issue1487), p53-55.Sieglohr, U. (2012, May/June).Rapture.Film Comment, Vol. 48 (Issue 3), p50-55.Staggs, S. (2012, October). Tropic of Calls. Opera News., Vol. 77(Issue 4), p32-35.Robin, K., &Westen, D. (2011). Pscychology: The Study of Mental Processes and Behaviors(6th ed.). Danvers, Massachusetts, John Wiley & Sons Inc.