NEW YORK – Italian actress Monica Bellucci will be playing Maria Callas in ‘Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs’ at the Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, on Friday, January 27. Bellucci channels the Greek opera legend in this one-woman show with text and stage direction by Tom Volf. Accompanied by the Wordless Music Orchestra, Bellucci recites Callas’ previously unpublished letters and writings to tell the opera singer’s full story in her own words.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.”
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.
The Italian actress spoke with The National Herald about the project now coming to New York and about taking on the challenging role.
TNH: How did the project come about and what made you decide to take on this challenging role?
Monica Bellucci: Tom Volf made a beautiful documentary called ‘Maria by Callas’ for which he did extensive research, including into Maria’s personal letters. The letters were so beautiful, he had the idea of making the show, and asked me to be part of it. It scared me – this would be my first time on stage – but I accepted the challenge because it was as though we could touch her soul with these letters and memories.
TNH: What was the most surprising thing you learned about Maria Callas in preparing for the play?
MB: I discovered the duality between the incredibly talented diva and a woman with a simple heart. This moved me profoundly. On stage, we chose to represent Maria more than Callas.
TNH: How has your own experience in the public eye influenced how you portray Callas?
MB: 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.
TNH: What is the most challenging aspect of the role?
MB: That I’m on stage for almost an hour and a half! This relationship with the audience is completely new for me, it is like we share the same breath for that amount of time. It is a completely singular, unrepeatable, direct, sincere, and artisanal experience. It is so different to cinema, and I had never lived something like that.
TNH: What is the most rewarding aspect?
MB: The most rewarding is the strength of emotion. The adrenaline is so high, it takes me two days to come down from a show. I also learned a lot about myself as an actress, it gave me the opportunity to evolve in my craft. I’m not sure if I’m ready to repeat the experience quite yet. I never expected the show to tour around the world, to be performed in three languages. It is amazing but also tiring. We went to France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Greece, London, and now America. I’m very thankful.
TNH: What are you working on next?
MB: 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. But first, I’ll be on stage with Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs in New York on January 27th.
Tickets are available now at Ticketmaster: https://www.ticketmaster.com.