Maria Callas Adorns Google Doodle

The Google Doodle home page on Dec. 2 commemorates the 90th birthday of Maria Callas, perhaps the greatest opera singer ever and a neglected Greek superstar.

The illustration shows a likeness of the influential opera singer performing to a packed auditorium. Callas was an American-born Greek soprano whom critics praised for her bel canto technique and wide-ranging voice.

She was born in New York, received her musical education in Greece and established her career in Italy. She made headlines away from the stage too,  especially her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and her love affair with Aristotle Onassis, who abandoned her to marry Jacqueline Kennedy to spite the Americans.

Callas died from a heart attack in Paris on Sept. 16, 1977, aged just 53.

TIME once called, “undisputed queen of the world’s opera” and  ”a woman for whom the term prima donna could have been invented.”

The magazine wrote that she was as famous for her ferocity as she was for her dominating voice. In her obituary following her death of a heart attack in Paris in 1977, TIME called her “tempestuous, unpredictable, charming, ruthless, overwhelmingly talented, capable of canceling a performance halfway through (as she did once in Rome) even with a King in the audience.”

She grew up a sullen and overweight child who willed herself to greatness through ferocious ambition and the power of her voice.

Last month, it was reported that the central Athens house in which she was once lived may be taken over by the municipality.

The neoclassical building on Patission Street is currently owned by the Sailors’ Pension Fund (NAT), which has said it does not have the money to renovate the house.

The building suffered damage in a 1999 earthquake. Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said that the City of Athens has expressed an interest in using the building but the municipality has yet to submit specific proposals.