Sunday, April 14, 2019

Marie by Callas

Maria Callas image via Sony Classics
We recently watched the wonderful film Maria By Callas. The film's writer-director, Tom Volf describes the life of Maria Callas in her own words through interviews and letters. The film is framed by extraordinary footage of an interview with David Frost from December 10, 1970. The Frost interview, never archived and thought to be lost, was discovered by Volf as he was interviewing friends and family of Callas for the film. Ferruccio Mezzadri, Maria Callas's butler, had saved a copy of the interview footage and subsequently shared it with Voss. "There are two people in me," Callas declares in her interview with Frost, "I would like to be Maria, but there is the Callas that I have to live up to." Indeed.
David Frost and Maria Callas image via Sony Classics

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Before seeing the film, I am embarrassed to say, I had never seen video footage of Callas's performances. WOW. I was transfixed. She defines opera even now. Great music expressively performed. She gave the libretti life. The performances chosen for the film made me want more. In fact, in order to deliver that more, 40 years after her death, there was a holograph tour, I wonder what Maria would have thought of that! Probably just a toss of her head and, "Oh, that's just like Callas." Interviews and letters demonstrate the contrasts between Maria and the legendary Diva myth of Callas. The film footage of the paparazzi badgering Maria shocked me. They were literally on top of her, jostling her and shouting their questions. The public's fascination with Callas was an early precursor of today's cult of celebrity. Maria Callas handled it all.

The film closes with Callas's performance of "O min bambino caro", a Puccini aria that I sang in college while studying voice. Listening, I mentally sang along, breathing when she did, feeling again the optimism of my 19 year college self. What a gift! Maria Callas died too young, before her 54th birthday. I am grateful for her legacy, captured perfectly in this film. She continues to inspire artists to create their best work always. To soar with the angels.

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Maria Callas: The Exhibition

#mariacallas #music #art #opera #documentaryfilm