B1059. ARIANNA STASSINOPOULOS. Maria Callas: the Woman Behind the Legend. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1981. 383pp. Index; Photos; DJ. - 0-671-25583-5
“At least two music critics and the authors of two earlier biographies about Maria Callas, the tempestuous singer who died in 1977, have charged that parts of a recent best-selling biography, MARIA CALLAS by Arianna Stassinopoulos, have been taken directly from those earlier biographies - a charge that Miss Stassinopoulos and her publisher, Simon & Schuster, vehemently deny.
In a review of the Stassinopoulos book in the July issue of MUSICAL AMERICA, Patrick J. Smith, the publication's book review editor, maintained that ‘swatches’ of four chapters of the Stassinopoulos book about the height of Callas's operatic career, ‘are taken directly, word for word, from Gerald Fitzgerald's chapter in his and John Ardoin's book CALLAS, and other swatches are but slightly paraphrased’. The reviewer added, ‘Similarly, portions of Henry Wisneski's book MARIA CALLAS are taken over with minimal change’. Lloyd Schwartz, classical-music editor for THE BOSTON PHOENIX, has written an article for the September issue of THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY calling attention to purported similarities and parallels between the Stassinopoulos book and earlier books about the singer. Mr. Schwartz explained the other day that while reading the Stassinopoulos book, the phrasing in the descriptions of many of Callas's performances ‘began to ring a bell’. At that point, he checked back into THE CALLAS LEGACY, a discography by John Ardoin, and found that some of the phrasing ‘was identical’.
‘She did lift from my book’, Mr. Wisneski said, but he added that he does not consider it plagiarism - all the critics have avoided using the word plagiarism - because it was not extensive. 'All books are based sometimes on somebody else's work’, Mr. Wisneski said.
The Stassinopoulos book includes more than eight pages of source notes at the back, providing references to books, magazine articles and interviews. But Mr. Smith wrote that in none of the chapter sources, as opposed to the general bibliography, are the Ardoin-Fitzgerald and Wisneski books cited. 'Insofar as the quoted interviews are concerned, therefore, time and again Stassinopoulos has given the impression that she herself interviewed the figures concerned, when in fact the quotes are lifted directly from Fitzgerald's chapter, and left uncredited’, Mr. Smith wrote.
Discussing the charges, Miss Stassinopoulos said: ‘People can make allegations right and center, but I can assure you there is not a single sentence word for word that I have lifted from any book. These are serious allegations coming from interested parties, especially when my book is a best seller’. She ascribed the criticism 'to disappointment by authors whose books on Callas did not do as well’.''
- Edwin Mcdowell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 31 July, 1981
“A thorough exploration of the personal life and professional career of the controversial soprano draws on her private letters, her personal tapes, and dozens of interviews to relate her triumphs, battles, passions, and failures. Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington was accused of plagiarism for copying material for her book Maria Callas (1981); the claims were settled out of court in 1981, with Callas' biographer Gerald Fitzgerald being paid ‘in the low five figures’.”
- Zillah D. Akron