Maria Callas: Google gives singer a solo

The 90th anniversary of the legendary soprano's birth is marked in the latest Google doodle

• Tom Service: Viva Maria! No wonder google want some Callas stardust

The birth of singer Maria Callas 90 years ago has been celebrated in a new Google doodle.

The animation shows the legendary soprano performing on stage. Callas, who died in 1977, was a colourful figure who was renowned as a prima donna.

The New York-born daughter of Greek parents first appeared on stage in the early 1940s. Despite a relatively short career – it lasted until 1965 – many consider her the greatest soprano of all time. But there are those who have asked if the personal price she paid for her success was worth it.

She went through a drastic loss of weight in the 1950s and, in her later career, her performances would become more sporadic. By the time of her last appearance, her vocal powers had waned.

Writing for the Guardian in 2007, the critic Tim Ashley wrote: "It has always been said – and even she herself would never deny it – that her voice was not classically beautiful. In her day, many people disliked that sometimes throttled, sometimes metallic sound, and there are some who still do. What she stood for, however, was truth rather than beauty, for expressive veracity rather than display."

Her personal life was tinged with tragedy. She had a love affair with Aristotle Onassis, who would later marry Jacqueline Kennedy, the widow of John F Kennedy. And her relationship with her mother became strained. By the time she died, Maria Callas was a virtual recluse.

Last month, the actor Faye Dunaway said she was determined to finish a film – which she is also directing and producing – telling Callas's life story. The Independent quoted Dunaway as saying: "That woman changed an art form and not many people can say that. Callas is to opera what Fellini is to cinema."

Guardian staff

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