The Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney will hold a presentation on the life and legacy of Maria Callas 100 years from the birth of the famed Greek opera singer.
The group is holding a free Book Club High Tea presentation on Saturday, December 2, at 2 p.m., at the St. Basil’s Nursing Home in Randwick, highlighting Callas’ life using books, music, posters and a presentation.
The event is building on the Hellenic Lyceum Book Club’s presentation last year, honouring the 100 years from the Burning of Smyrna and the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
“The idea then for our next Book Club fitted in perfectly with the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas, looking at biographies written about her, which total 46 at the moment,” Katina (Tina) Contos, treasurer for the Hellenic Lyceum, told Neos Kosmos.
Contos stressed the intrigue in Callas’s literature as she had never written an autobiography.
“I’ve read six books about her and find conflicting information in certain areas…they all agree that she was the finest female soprano of the 20th Century and, some say, the best female soprano ever.
The event will unpack Maria Callas’s life using pictures, quotes from the singer herself and quotes from others about her, two interviews – one in Greek and one in English- and a video clip of her singing one of her most famous arias.
“We will also have on display posters of her, various books written about her, a raffle including two books and her favourite liqueur drink as prizes, a birthday cake and a High Tea for refreshments,” Ms Contos said.
The Hellenic Lyceum treasurer mentioned the tremendous impact Maria Callas left in her relatively short career and life, earning the nickname ‘La Divina’ or ‘The Divine One’, with the Greek soprano still being honoured today with performances, museums, new recordings and more.
“It’s essential to shine a light on her legacy – UNESCO is awarding her a Cultural award this year – because of what she has given not only to her country of origin but to the whole world,” she said.
Contos stressed her desire that people come out of the event more knowledgeable on Callas, someone she says “revolutionised opera in many ways”.
“I’d like them to feel happy once they have left because that is what Maria Callas said in one of her interviews – ‘if everyone leaves my opera performance feeling happy, then I have achieved my purpose as an artist’,” Contos told Neos Kosmos.
“At this stage, I believe we are the only Greek organisation in Sydney honouring Maria Callas, and for that alone, we are very proud of our Hellenic Lyceum Book Club and how we don’t just study and discuss books like many other Book Clubs – we go beyond the books and include other media too.
“The event is free for all, though guests have been asked to RSVP their interest by November 25 to either Ms Contos at 0416655561 or Eleni Kandylas-Mallios at 0419402034.