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Classical 101

Maria Callas Interviewed by David Frost in 1970

The David Frost Show was a celebrity pit stop on United States TV in the late 1960s early 1970s. Frost, whose post-Watergate Nixon interviews put his fame over the top, was also known for his personal life. Maria Callas had not sung in public for five years when she was interviewed by David Frost in 1970. She was much in the news, unfortunately, for not singing. Her longtime partner Aristotle Onassis had just married Jacqueline Kennedy. To escape this very public humiliation, Callas went back to work, not in opera but on film. With the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini she starred in Medea. No singing here, no opera, no music and very little dialogue. The film is worth seeing today, but did nothing to give Callas a new career in films. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKkAz1CsC2Y She was in New York in 1970 to discuss the master classes she would teach at Julliard in 1971 and 1972. These classes became the distorted source for Terrence McNally's play Master Class,which comes to CATCO in next year and is now on film with Faye Dunaway. Callas does not sing in this David Frost interview. A few moments of one of her recordings of Norma is played. She reveals herself to be a complicated and unhappy woman. She tells Frost of recordings she had just made a few months before. These were not released until after her death, and much of the singing in fine. But had channeled everything into her singing career, and when her voice failed her and Onassis left, she pretty much was waiting to die. Which sadly, she did at the young age of 53 in 1977. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln1FzEuPNBg

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.