A diva (//; Italian: [ˈdiːva]) is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.
The word entered the English language in the late 19th century. It is derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity. The plural of the word in English is "divas"; in Italian, dive [ˈdiːve]. The basic sense of the term is goddess, the feminine of the Latin word divus (Italian divo), someone deified after death, or Latin deus, a god.
The male form divo exists in Italian and is usually reserved for the most prominent leading tenors, like Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli. The Italian term divismo describes the star-making system in the film industry. In contemporary Italian, diva and divo simply denote much-admired celebrities, especially film actresses and actors, and can be translated as "(film) star". The Italian actress Lyda Borelli is considered the first cinematic diva, following her breakthrough role in Love Everlasting (1913).
The word diva re-emerged in the early 1990s when singer Annie Lennox named her first post-Eurythmics album Diva. Since that, the word has often been used to describe a female artist who achieved enormous success. The term reached new status in popular culture when, in 1998, VH1 debuted its first annual VH1 Divas concert in support of VH1's Save The Music Foundation. The concert event brought together five of the world's most celebrated divas: Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, and Shania Twain. The live broadcast became the highest rated program in VH1’s 13-year history. Twenty million people watched the program in the initial airings on the channel in the US.
- Online Etymology Dictionary
- TIME magazine observed in its October 21, 2002, issue: "By definition, a diva was originally used for great female opera singers, almost always sopranos."
- Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera
- Doane p.125
- "Vamps, camps and archetypes: gay men, the diva phenomenon and the inner feminine" by Andrew Milnes (2002)
- Doane, Mary Anne (1991). Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis, Routledge, New York. ISBN 978-0-415-90320-2.
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