January 2

This Day in History

General Interest

Jan 2, 1958:

Callas walks out of performance

On January 2, 1958, celebrated soprano Maria Callas walks off after the first act of a gala performance of Bellini's Norma in Rome, claiming illness. The president of Italy and most of Rome's high society were in the audience, and Callas, known for her volatile temperament, was sharply criticized. It was a characteristic move for the Greek-American diva, who packed as much drama into her personal life as she did on the stage.

Born in New York City in 1923 to Greek immigrants, Callas demonstrated her talent for singing at an early age. When she was 13, she went to Athens to study under the noted soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. Her first major operatic role came in 1947, when she appeared in La Gioconda in Verona. Acclaimed for a powerful soprano voice that lent itself to the difficult coloratura roles, she was soon appearing in opera houses around the world. Her talents made possible the revival of 19th-century bel canto works by Bellini and others that had not been performed for decades. In 1954, the "Divine Callas" made her American debut in Chicago in the title role of Norma, a performance she repeated before a record audience at New York City's Metropolitan Opera.

Callas' stormy personal life was closely watched and exaggerated by the press, as were her professional walkouts and tiffs with rivals. She divorced her husband of many years after becoming involved with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, but he later left her when he fell in love with the widowed Jackie Kennedy. In the 1970s, Callas' career rapidly declined, and she died in 1977 from unknown causes at the age of 53.

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This Week in History, Jan 2 - Jan 8

Jan 02, 1492
Reconquest of Spain
Jan 02, 1788
Georgia enters the Union
Jan 02, 1811
First censuring of a U.S. senator
Jan 02, 1905
Russian fleet surrenders at Port Arthur
Jan 02, 1958
Callas walks out of performance
Jan 03, 1521
Martin Luther excommunicated
Jan 03, 1868
Meiji Restoration in Japan
Jan 03, 1924
King Tut's sarcophagus uncovered
Jan 03, 1959
Alaska admitted into Union
Jan 03, 1967
Jack Ruby dies before second trial
Jan 04, 1896
Utah enters the Union
Jan 04, 1974
President Nixon refuses to hand over tapes
Jan 04, 1987
Segovia begins final U.S. tour
Jan 04, 1995
104th Congress under Republican control
Jan 05, 1643
First divorce in the colonies
Jan 05, 1895
Dreyfus Affair in France
Jan 05, 1945
Kamikaze pilots get first order
Jan 05, 1968
Prague Spring begins in Czechoslovakia
Jan 05, 1976
Pol Pot renames Cambodia
Jan 05, 1994
Former Speaker Thomas P. Tip O'Neill dies
Jan 06, 1066
Harold II crowned king of England
Jan 06, 1912
New Mexico joins the Union
Jan 06, 1925
Nurmi breaks two world records
Jan 06, 2001
Congress certifies Bush winner of 2000 elections
Jan 07, 1785
Across the English Channel in a balloon
Jan 07, 1979
Pol Pot overthrown
Jan 07, 1989
Emperor Hirohito dies
Jan 07, 1999
Clinton impeachment trial begins
Jan 08, 1642
Astronomer Galileo dies in Italy
Jan 08, 1815
The Battle of New Orleans
Jan 08, 1867
Congress expands suffrage in nation's capital
Jan 08, 1916
Allies retreat from Gallipoli
Jan 08, 1918
Wilson announces his 14 Points
Jan 08, 1962
Mona Lisa exhibited in Washington

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