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Monica Bellucci Recites Maria Callas’ Letters in NYC

January 29, 2023

NEW YORK – Italian actress Monica Bellucci offered her own interpretation of the iconic Maria Callas in a one-night-only performance of ‘Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs’ at the Beacon Theatre in Manhattan on January 27.

The one-woman show with text and stage direction by Tom Volf presented a less well-known side of the opera legend whose centennial is celebrated this year. Accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra, Bellucci recited Callas’ previously unpublished letters and writings to tell the opera singer’s story in her own words.

“This show is for me the result of seven years of work dedicated to Maria Callas. Maria’s letters represent the most intimate voice of the woman behind the legend,” said director Tom Volf. “Maria speaks directly to the audience and confides in them, revealing herself— her glory and pain— as never before. For the first time she’s the one telling her own story, instead of others speaking on her behalf.”

Monica Bellucci. (Photo: Tom Volf)

Bellucci made her debut as Callas at Paris’ Théâtre Marigny in 2019 and has continued to perform around the world, including in Athens, Rome, Milan, and London. For the show at the Beacon, Bellucci wore one of Callas’ own dresses, “a black Saint Laurent number that Volf borrowed from a private collection in Milan,” the New York Times reported.

The play includes brief glimpses into Callas’ life from her birth in New York City to the pivotal moments of her career and her complicated relationships. Audio clips of Callas singing some of her most famous roles were remarkable in their clarity, the dynamic sound of Callas’ voice filled with emotion and intensity contrasted sharply with Bellucci’s subdued recitation of the letters which are in themselves a type of performance geared towards a specific, intended audience. For those familiar with the turbulent life of the opera singer, the reading of the letters presented a different side of Callas to the nearly full house at the Beacon. The music performed by the Wordless Music Orchestra added welcome musical interludes between the letters.

Audience members applauded enthusiastically at the conclusion of the performance, moved by the story of Callas’ life and the musical pieces included in the show.

In a previous interview with The National Herald, Bellucci said: “I tried to get into this role in the most humble way possible, to find the part of Maria that was not in the public eye. We are all used to thinking about Maria Callas as a strong and uncompromising woman but, in the letters, we can discover a very sensitive and fragile woman. One who died of a broken heart.”

Fans can look forward to seeing the actress back on the big screen soon. When asked what she is working on next, Bellucci told TNH: “We are working on a documentary about this beautiful international tour, which Tom Volf is also directing. I recently played in the Italian film ‘The Girl in the Fountain’ directed by Antongiulio Panizzi about Anita Ekberg. And ‘Mafia Mamma’ will come out soon, a comedy about the mafia with a feminine twist, directed by Catherine Hardwick and with Toni Colette.”

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