Luke Blackall: Tea with the world's greatest soprano

Man About Town: Like Maria Callas, Gheorghiu has become as well-known for herself as for her roles

In an age where any pop star with half a voice, but a double-sized ego is called a "diva", it's easy to forget that there still exist those who really embody the word.

This occurred to me as I had tea with Angela Gheorghiu, perhaps the world's greatest soprano and certainly one of the few divas today in the true sense of the word. Elegantly and expensively dressed, she is every inch the star – of which she is fully aware.

She knows she is a "big artist" and is aware that her appearance in any lead role will usually mean a sell-out crowd. Her confidence, which on a lesser talent might seem arrogant, is like that of an athlete at the top of their game.

We meet so she can tell me about her new CD (out next week), A Homage to Maria Callas, one of the best-known and best-loved operatic stars of the 20th century. For many, the prospect of being compared to such a grande dame would be daunting, but to Gheorghiu? "It's OK with me, she's just a colleague".

Like Callas, Gheorghiu has become as well-known for herself as for her roles. And also like her predecessor, Gheorghiu has experienced much interest in her private life, especially her tempestuous on/off marriage to celebrated tenor Roberto Alagna (as I write this, it's back on and they're singing together in La Boheme next year).

"I have achieved so much, but with the price of my life, I give everything," she says. "I've tried to be a normal person, to have a personal life, but I cannot really have a personal life.

"And I cannot be a normal person. Everybody judges me by the way I'm speaking, singing, dressed that sort of thing. But all this because of my art."

Of course, the more modern meaning of the word "diva" can imply a demanding and stubborn nature to match her talents.

If some reports are to be believed, this is another way in which Gheorghiu might be compared to Callas. Either way, she is not letting it bother her. "Diva," she says. "I love it. What is better than that?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test