Maria Callas: From the stage of the Opera, a modern legend

Ninni Radicini
4 July 2017

Maria Callas in the movie Medea directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini In the recurrence of forty years after the death of Maria Callas (Maria Anna Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulos, New York City, 02 December 1923 - Paris, 16 September 1977), an exhibition in Greece, in Athens, at the B&M Theocharakis Foundation, celebrates her relevance as a personality in the history and culture of the Twentieth century. The exhibition - Maria Callas: The myth lives on (11 May - 29 October 2017) - presents, for the first time, a series of more than 200 of its objects, or its relative, largely from the collection of Nicos Charalampopoulos, Created over many years and considered the largest in the world on the famous opera singer and actress Hellenic.

Exposed dresses, jewelery, theater costumes, letters. Part of the objects reminiscent of his relationship with Aristotle Onassis, at the beginning kept confidential because both were married and then did not realize as you would have liked. Also his first identity card, passport, his first autograph, album with photos and letters of celebrity - among which Grace Kelly and Laurence Olivier - and the gloves worn during the theatrical representation of La Traviata, in 1955, at the Theatre La Scala, directed by Luchino Visconti (also cinematographic director), who directed her on the same stage in other lyric operas: La Vestale (1954), La Sonnambula (1955), Anna Bolena (1957), Ifigenia in Tauride (1957). In the exhibition also the dress realized by Biki worn by Maria Callas at the first official screening of the movie Medea in 1969.

The curator of the Athenian exhibition, Fotis Papathanassiou, said that Maria Callas in the Twentieth Century had a relevance equal to that of the German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck in the 18th Century and in the 19th Century Richard Wagner, who in their compositions have "returned to their origins": "Emphasizing the dramatic plot and creating catharsis in the Aristotelian sense, Maria Callas represented such dimensions as no one else in the 20th Century Opera. That she was Greek can be considered a mystical coincidence". Among the exhibitions on the occasion of the 40th anniversary after the death also Private Callas: Dresses and memorabilia in a textile scenery by Bonotto, in Milan, since 1 February to 3 March 2017, with objects from Progetto Marzotto Foundation's archive Callas, including dresses, theater binoculars, necklaces (including that worn in the movie Medea), bracelets, posters, photo albums.

In 2016, from 11 March to 18 September in Verona, Maria Callas. The Exhibition with vintage video, interviews, photos, objects, documents, clothes and jewelery, from Italian and international archives, as well as from Maria Callas's archive. Maria Callas's debut in Italy took place August 2, 1947 at the Theatre L'Arena in Verona with La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli. The exhibition was articulated in 14 sections: America Greece: roundtrip. New York - Athens - New York 1923-1947; 2. Success and love. Verona, 1947-1954; 3. Sacred Heart; 4. Great debuts. Venice, Florence and Rome, 1947-1958; 5. The conquest of the South America. Argentine e Mexico, 1949-1952;. Finally La Scala. Milan, 1950-1953; 7. Callas - Scala. Milan, 1954-1962; 8. Style Icon; 9. Queen at the court of her Majesty. London, 1952-1973; 10. Back home. Chicago - New York - Dallas - Athens - Epidauro, 1954-1965; 11. From the greatest triumph to solitude. Paris, 1958-1977; 12. Maria and Medea; 13. Details of Diva. The wardrobe; 14. Final.

Between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the Museum Maria Callas is expected to open in Athens. It's built in a neoclassical building and will have a dedicated piano for audiovisual, with its interpretations in lyric performances, another piano with personal and professional objects, a mediatrix, and a space for conventions, concerts and theatrical representations.

On day 9 June 2017, in the program of the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival - 11th edition, was screened the documentary Our own Maria Callas (I diki mas Maria Kallas), written and directed by Babis Tsokas (Greece, 2016, 95'), filmed at various locations including Athens, Meligala, Kalamata, New York, Milan, Paris, Verona, island of Scorpio, and Neohorion Oihalias (Messenia, province of Peloponneso), place of origin of his father, where she did not have the opportunity to live, because her parents moved to New York in 1923, before her birth (She went on a visit during World War II).

Made with the participation of 250 volunteers, the documentary was also screened in the closing night of the Montreal Greek Film Festival (27 March - 2 April 2017). In addition to remembering the professional goals and the songs that have highlighted the singing qualities, Greek director (immigrant in Sweden), focused on the narrative about the personal history of Maria Callas, in reference to the Hellenic origins and unhappy events, highlighting the similarities with the characters of the Greek Tragedy, for example by creating a parallel between his relationship with Onassis and that between Medea and Giasone.

The year 1977 was characterized by the disappearance of a multitude of famous personalities, some of which became popular symbols. Along with Maria Callas too Charlie Chaplin, Howard Hawks, Joan Crawford, Groucho Marx, Roberto Rossellini and Elvis Presley (He just a month before Maria Callas). After the funeral celebration, 20 September 1977 in the Greek orthodox church of Paris, 3 June 1979 the ashes of Maria Callas from the cemetery of Père La Chaise were dispersed to the wind in the Egeo Sea. The exhibition Maria Callas: The myth lives on was inaugurated by President of Hellenic Repubblic rokopis Pavlopoulos. This decision is significant for the relevance of Maria Callas in Hellenic history and the Greek people.

* Ninni Radicini, co-author of the book La Grecia Contemporanea (1974-2006), has published articles in various periodicals, reviews and prefaces to books.

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