Soprano Star, Maria Callas, is honored with arts academy in former Athens home.

Helena Smith in Athens reports in The Guardian.

Internationally recognized opera singer, Maria Callas, was the child of Greek immigrants in New York City. As a teenager, Callas took her first voice lessons in Greece at the foot of the Acropolis. This location is where the singer first performed solo and began her career, says Myron Michailades, the artistic director of the Greek National Opera.

In September 2014, 37 years after her death, the Greek national opera raised €10,000 by staging a concert in this precise location in memory of the soprano— funds that will be used to create a museum and an academy of lyrical arts in Callas’s honor, housed in the building where she once resided in Athens. The academy will provide university degrees to students— singers, conductors, directors and designers— of opera. According to Helena Smith of The Guardian, Maria Callas was celebrated in Greece but never received the recognition she deserved— not until this recent event.

Maria Callas

Callas’s love affair with Greece was further inflamed by her romance with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. The love affair resulted in the divorce of Callas with Italian industrialist and manager Giovanni Meneghini. When Onassis left her and married Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of US president John F. Kennedy, Callas avoided Greece for the rest of her career. However, she asked that her ashes be scattered in the Aegean upon her death. Maria Callas died in her Paris home in 1977 at the age of 53.

“Maria Callas was celebrated in Greece but never received the recognition she deserved— not until this recent event.”

While streets are named after Callas in Italy, Paris and London—  Greece, the country where Callas grew up, has never done the same, regretted Michael Moussou, a former opera singer and head of the Lycabettus Society for the preservation of patrimony. For a country like Greece, whose confidence has been challenged by the threat of economic collapse, Callas has become for many an emblem of what is possible and a huge source of local pride. Moussou claims that recent support has been tremendous— from museums, arts societies, fashion designers, actors, and Greeks all over the world rallying for the cause.

The four-story museum is to open in honor of Maria Callas at the end of 2015. “It is the very least we can do,” said Giorgos Kaminis, mayor of Athens. While her love affair with Onassis is often emphasized, the new museum will highlight the career and life of “La Divina” who stunned the world.

Maria Callas