The history of divas and opera is a long and rich one, stretching back hundreds of years to the birth of opera in Italy in the late 16th century.
The term "diva" originally referred to a female opera singer of great talent and fame. The first true diva of opera was probably Caterina Gabrielli, who performed in the early 18th century and was known for her virtuosic singing and dramatic performances.
In the 19th century, the concept of the diva became even more prominent, with the rise of singers such as Maria Malibran, Adelina Patti, and Jenny Lind. These women were not only famous for their singing abilities, but also for their stage presence, costumes, and larger-than-life personalities.
As opera became more popular in the 19th century, audiences began to demand more and more from their singers. This led to the development of the "opera star" system, in which certain singers were elevated to almost mythical status and could command enormous fees and adoration from their fans. These singers were often referred to as "prima donnas," a term that was originally used to describe the leading female singer in an opera but later became synonymous with diva.
In the 20th century, divas continued to dominate the opera world, with singers such as Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Leontyne Price achieving legendary status. These women were not only celebrated for their vocal abilities but also for their ability to inhabit complex characters and bring them to life on stage.
Today, the term "diva" is often used more broadly to refer to any female performer who exudes confidence, glamour, and talent. But its roots in the world of opera remain an important part of its history and legacy.