A diva is a woman who is extremely talented. The term was originally used to refer to stars of the operatic world, and now more generally to talk about talented female musicians in all genres. Alas, the name has acquired some negative connotations, and it is also sometimes used to describe difficult women or women who have an inflated opinion of themselves. This is unfortunate, as highly talented female performers deserve credit for their hard work and natural ability.
This term is Italian, taken from the Latin, and means “goddess” or “divine one.” The use of the term is meant to suggest that a woman is so incredibly talented that her voice in performance approaches the divine. Divas have historically acquired huge numbers of fans, and their talents are often in high demand.
The first divas were probably notable prima donnas from the opera world. A woman does not become a leading lady without some singing skill, and the finest of leading ladies were being heralded as early as the 1880s. Some examples of famous operatic divas include Maria Callas, Nellie Melba, Renee Fleming, Leotyne Price, and Joan Sutherland. A performance by a diva of a new opera can serve as the benchmark that all singers attempt to reach.
Over time, the term began to spill into other musical genres as well. Performers like Aretha Franklin, Patsy Cline, Diana Ross. Madonna, and Whitney Houston have all been called divas at some point or another, along with numerous other women. Many of these performers are famed for their grace and culture as well as their musical talent, and performances by these celebrated singers tend to sell out quickly.
Some people associate large amounts of artistic talent with short tempers and difficult personalities, and this probably explains why the word “diva” is used to describe women who are difficult to deal with. Many actual divas are in fact known for their gentle, generous, courteous personalities, as these women are far too busy with their professional careers to be petty or hard to handle. Some have become known for certain unusual quirks and expectations from their support staff, however, which may seem a bit odd to the general public.