7 Deaths of Maria Callas
Soprano Maria Callas earned her indelible place in popular culture thanks to her recognisable voice, immense artistry and fiery temperament, both on and off the opera stage. A shining star of bel canto and a name permanently etched into opera’s grand history books, she blazed through the most coveted soprano roles with power and ease. World-renowned performance artist Marina Abramović celebrates the legacy of the legendary opera singer with her project ‘7 Deaths of Maria Callas’, part of the 83rd Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival in Florence. Featuring scenes from the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Georges Bizet, Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti, with additional music by Marko Nikodijević, the performance offers a breath-taking look into the singer and woman in equal measure.
In seven short films, Marina Abramović presents the death scenes of opera’s greatest tragic heroines whom Maria Callas portrayed memorably and inimitably. Taking on the roles of Floria Tosca, Cio-Cio San, Carmen, Desdemona, Norma, Violetta Valery and Lucia Ashton, all of whom died lovelorn, the modern artist draws poignant connections to Callas’s own temperament, predicaments and lost loves. In a powerful finale, Abramović appears live on stage and recreates the prima donna’s own death in her Paris apartment as the ultimate heartbreak, a final resounding performance.
While nobody doubted the talent and greatness of Maria Callas, her unique vocal quality polarised audiences and critics. In addition, her reputation for being confrontational and headstrong as well as her publicised affair with the tycoon Aristotle Onassis made as many headlines as the high points in her musical career. In the vision of Marina Abramović, Callas was a divine performer with a profoundly unhappy personal life. Like many of her classic heroines, she suffered greatly for love. As a cardiac arrest took her life in 1977, many said she had died of a broken heart.
The parallels between the tragic love Callas portrayed on stage and also experienced in real life mark the starting point for Abramović’s art project. A labour of love and a heartfelt homage to one of opera’s most remarkable leading ladies, ‘7 Deaths of Maria Callas’ at Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino promises to shake audiences to their core.