Monday, January 20, 2014

Visiting Maria Callas… Sort of…

On a regular basis, I have the opportunity to go to Maria Callas' apartment building. Not because it's a tourist attraction. It isn't. Not because I have excellent connections. I don't.

It all began, as a matter of fact, by accident.

At first, when I made the appointment to meet with someone in this building, I didn't even know the place had such a past. Only as I walked through the gate and made my way to the front door did I see the small plaque saying "Maria Callas died here on Sept. 16, 1977."

All of a sudden, instead of trudging up the steps and blindly walking to my appointment, I was all ears and all eyes. I inspected each detail of the façade, marveled at the old elevator preserved in the lobby, the elegant winding staircase. Of course, I took several photos. I'm sharing them with you right here. (Me, pretending I live here, followed by a shot of the antique elevator.)

Each time I return to this building, I'm almost as intrigued as that first day. What's fascinating is knowing that although the actual apartment might have changed, the building itself is pretty much identical to when Callas lived there. That's how things are in Paris, and it's one of the things that I love about this city.

I imagine Callas right there, walking in the same lobby, climbing the same steps that I'm standing on right now. And that leads me to another thing I love about Paris: The proximity it brings me to the famous artists of the past. Not only through museums, but also through the little daily experiences. The opportunity to meet a friend or go to a doctor's appointment and find yourself in the former dwelling of a figure you admire.

Like me, when you are in Paris, your greatest discovery might not be in one of the big museums, but in an unexpected place…   


  1. I love the frisson one gets from treading in famous footsteps, opening a book that nobody's looked at in very many years, uncovering period wallpaper when redecorating, or finding ancient newspapers used as underlay beneath a carpet. You go right on treading in Callas' footsteps!

    1. Yes, it is an amazing feeling... You suddenly feel so close to a piece of history! It no longer is something you read about in a history book, but something real and right at your fingertips.