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On Maria Callas and Being Fat

I’m pretty sure that everyone in the known universe agrees that Maria Callas, ‘La Divina’, was pretty much the best singer in the history of time.  Sure, sometimes

it is really hard to love her, and she actually had a pretty ugly voice.  But she could sing anything, and make it sound like she was half asleep and singing in the bath or something.  Nobody could do what she did.  She had the craziest range, and every tessitura she sang in seemed like the perfect fit.  Honestly, who can sing Carmen’s Habanera and then the Bell Song and have them each sound as though they were written for her.  Surely it could be argued that so-and-so’s is better, but even still, Callas’ versions are always amazing. Whether you like her or hate her, you cannot deny that she was an incredible technical singer, and will always be remembered as such.

But did you know she used to be fat? Quel horreur, right? Would she even be remembered at all outside of classical music circles if she had been forever cursed by fatness?  My guess is no.

She was always fat (if you consider this picture on the right—> to be fat),  ever since she was a kid, you know, just like most fat people.  And she always felt like shit about it, thinking even her mother didn’t like her as much as her skinny sister.  Yet despite her crippling fatness she studied music and became incredibly famous and loved.  Many uninitiated into the classical music world maybe think that a fat woman is totally awesome in that field, but guess what, you’re wrong again.  Everybody, everywhere, hates a fat lady.  Plenty of dicks called her disgusting and gross and other imaginative things, but she didn’t let it affect her, she was the most highly regarded singer in the world!  O wait, never mind she did! Even though she had been “fat” her whole life and had never had any health problems, and had always had the stamina to sing, midway through her illustrious career she claimed that she was just too fat and needed to lose weight.  All her critics were right.  She then proceeded to lose 80 pounds over 1 summer-that’s all- and kept it off for essentially the rest of her life.

Consequently, of course, her voice suffered and her singing career was DRAMATICALLY shortened.  An opera singer’s career starts late (usually when they are in their 30’s) and can last at least 100 years as long as they are using good technique.  But, as we all are aware, once a fatty becomes thin, it takes a mountain of effort to maintain that svelte appearance.  I can’t imagine how hungry she was every time she sang. It may look like a singer is just standing there, but it is hard work and physically demanding.

But, as hungry and miserable as she probably was, she was really, REALLY pretty now.  She gained the confidence she never had before (well, the remainder I suppose.  It takes a lot of confidence to sing in front of people at all) and could now do all the sexy roles she wanted.  Her audience was bigger than ever.

In the end I wish that she had never lost weight.  I can’t possibly understand the pressure that she must have been under, and I can’t even remotely blame her.  There is no way that she would have been so universally loved if she were fat, because as previously noted, everybody hates fat chicks.  But I imagine what else she could have done with her divine voice if she continued training in the same body she had always had.