Anne Edwards LA Divina

ISBN 13: 9780688088361

LA Divina

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9780688088361: LA Divina
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The fictional portrait of the passionate and tragic personal life of a world-acclaimed opera diva profiles Athena Varos, whose voice and charisma propel her to fame matched with a legendary private life. 50,000 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

In her latest laminating of a celebrity lily, Edwards (The Grimadlis of Monaco; Wallis, etc.) carefully avoids naming names in this blowzy fictional take on the doomed diva, Maria Callas, whose sensational opera career had all too short a lease of 12 years. A railroad apartment in the Bronx was an unlikely nest for a famous soprano, but it was there that the young Athena Varosoupolos first heard a record of Aida and learned piano. In 1939, though, unhappy mother Kuri, with Athena and voluptuous Aunt Seraphina, returned to her native Athens, leaving Athena's gentle, failed father in New York. It is while living at the house of that elderly and kind charmer Uncle Spiro that Athena is ``discovered''--but then Athens suffers during invasions of WW II; Seraphina is destroyed in spirit; and Athena's coach is killed as a spy. Athena's career takes off after the war, and in Italy, under the wing of a Famous Conductor, she scores in La Gioconda, where ``her voice lunged thrillingly to an A flat...before she fell dead in a heap.'' There's a marriage to banker Roberto--her future manager, but, alas, homosexual. Then enter Mano Zakarias, a shipping magnate--short, tough; he will marry a Famous Widow. The now Famous Athena is a staple on Mano's yacht with celebs like Coward, Dietrich, et al. Athena waits for marriage with Mano, but there's the horrible news of his marriage to the Widow. After a screaming breakdown, Athena will proclaim, head high, ``I am still...la Divina!'' There's more about high living than about high notes here- -though we doubt Noel Coward ever could say, ``Frankly, I'm grateful to whomever placed you beside me.'' Still, with all the glitter, drama, and naughty bits, frankly, whom cares? -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

What a good idea--a novel based on the life of the great opera diva Maria Callas. There was so much drama in that woman's life, a novelist has only to worry about making sure a fictionalized version doesn't seem too overwrought. And in popular biographer Edwards' prolific but uncalloused (no pun intended) hands, there's no sense of the story being overdone. The main character is called Athena Varos here, and Edwards' take on events closely--and, perhaps more important, unsensationally--parallels the real ones. Edwards has a sensible understanding of her character's--and obviously Callas'--incentives, which motivated her not only to rise to great heights, but to do so through consummate artistry. Edwards follows Athena's initial steps as an opera singer (born in the U.S., Athena was taken as a teenager by her mother back to her family's homeland, Greece), her establishment in the operatic firmament by hard work in Italy, her problematic marriage, her affair with a Greek shipping magnate, and the celebrity that brought her name to the attention of a wider public than simply opera enthusiasts. And not only opera lovers will appreciate this felicitous--no, striking--fictional biography. Brad Hooper

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