Odeon of Herod Atticus

Music Fidelio Ludwig van Beethoven and Maria Callas (album - 1804)
Maria Callas' voice has left its mark on the world of opera, notably through her memorable roles in La Traviata or Norma. But before becoming an international star, "La Callas" had a difficult start in Greece.
Odeon of Herod Atticus Athens
"Athens / Αθήνα: Greece: 01/02/03/04-June 2019 "by amodelofcontrol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Could it be that there is something divine about her and we haven’t realized it?”

Maria Callas’ rival, Réna Vlachopoúlou, during the rehearsal of the opera Fidelio in 1944. Interview by Nicolas Petsalis-Diomidis in his book The Unknown Callas: The Greek Years published in 2001.

Born in 1923 in New York, Sophia Cecilia Kalogeropoulos, aka Maria Callas, lived with her parents in an apartment in Astoria, Queens. Her mother quickly spotted a unique tinge in her voice, although she saw her as an “ugly duckling”. When she sings in her school or in competitions, the young Maria is acclaimed.

Racked by her failed marriage, the matriarch puts all her ambition on her daughter. When she separated from her husband in 1937, she returned to Greece with her two daughters. Pushing the young Maria, barely 13 years old, to enroll in the National Conservatory, her mother lies about her age and manages to get her into the institution. Maria Callas worked ever harder to perfect her already prodigious voice.

After several small shows, she started to play second roles at the National Opera of Greece. She soon became Tosca in the opera of the same name in 1942, then Marta in Eugen d’Albert’s Tiefland. The critics are unanimous: the artist’s lyrical gifts are a blessing.

In 1944, Maria Callas attended a venue that propelled her to the pinnacle of her national career: the Odeon of Herod Atticus. O Protomastoras and Fidelio made the young singer a star. Even his detractors claim that his voice is “a gift from heaven”. Following this undeniable success, the singer gave 56 performances throughout Greece in less than a year.

However, she ended her adventure in 1945, after being pressured by her mother to perform for Nazi soldiers and to prostitute herself for some of them. Maria Callas decided to return to the United States to her father, the ultimate affront to her mother, who had been marked by her marriage to a “worthless” man.

But the diva will never forget her beginnings in Greece, which led to her rise to international stardom and outstanding singer. An exceptional voice, revealed to the world in the legendary ancient Greek theatre.


Between October 1944 and September 1945, Maria Callas performed performed 56 times in seven seven different operas.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Located at the foot of the Acropolis, the Odeon of Herod Atticus is a theater built in 161 by Herod Atticus, a Greek philanthropist, in memory of his late wife, Regilla, who died a year earlier.

With an external diameter of 285 ft, the huge performance site could accommodate 5,000 spectators on numerous tiers. Originally, it was covered with an imposing beechwood ceiling, marble walls and multiple statues were nestled behind the stage. Today, the theater looks like a ruin but still hosts multiple events such as concerts, the 1973 Miss Universe election and the Athens Festival.

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By Damien Duarte

Monday, January 3, 2022

Passionné par la culture pop depuis son enfance, ses références vont de Donald Duck à Batman en passant par Marty McFly. Fantripper dans l'âme, voyager sur les traces de Ghostbusters, James Bond ou des héros de romans comme Cotton Malone fait partie d'un séjour idéal et réussi !

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