x

Arts

The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas’

September 30, 2020

NEW YORK – The life of renowned Greek soprano Maria Callas – known as ‘La Divina’ before her untimely death in 1977 – continues to fascinate and inspire both musicians and writers. The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Marina Abramovic’s The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, which opened the Bavarian State Opera’s season. It was live-streamed on September 5 and is available free of charge until October 7. “Though in development for several years, it seems made for this pandemic moment – it runs an intermission-free 90 minutes, and only one person sings onstage at a time. Rather than an opera, it’s an appropriation and an appreciation of the form. The Serbian-born performance artist inserts herself into the stories of some operatic icons – the soprano Maria Callas and seven famous heroines – and fashions a multilayered meditation on dying for love. Opera fans steeped in the tragedies of Violetta, Cio-Cio-San and their ilk, as well as the doomed Callas-Aristotle Onassis romance, will get the references as Ms. Abramovic represents all of these women but chiefly herself,” Heidi Waleson wrote.

“Conductor Yoel Gamzou ably welded the arias and Mr. Nikodijevic’s music into a coherent whole … In the diverting first hour, Ms. Abramovic, as Callas, lies motionless in a bed at stage right, presumably dreaming her stage deaths as she awaits her own … One by one, seven sopranos enter and sing famous Callas arias, starting with Addio del passato (La Traviata) and concluding with Casta diva (‘Norma). Each is introduced by a voiceover, spoken in English by Ms. Abramovic, giving emotional context, and accompanied by a film, directed by Nabil Elderkin and starring Ms. Abramovic and the actor Willem Dafoe as the lover who causes her death. The arias are eloquently sung, but the giant film images seize our focus and, together with the introductory narrations, make the deaths explicit,” the article continues.

“In the Traviata sequence,” Waleson wrote “Ms. Abramovic expires in bed; the other six grow progressively more violent and grotesque. In Ave Maria (Otello), she is strangled by a giant snake; in “Un bel di” (Madama Butterfly), she rips off her hazmat suit in a poisoned landscape and breathes in the air; for “Il dolce suono,” from the mad scene in Lucia di Lammermoor, she slashes herself with broken glass. Puzzlingly, in Casta diva, it is Mr. Dafoe who wears the signature Callas makeup (skinny eyebrows, red lipstick) and a gold lamé gown; he and Ms. Abramovic, in a tuxedo, stagger into a fire, their facial expressions simultaneously agonized and ecstatic. (The narration cites bubbling and blackening skin and singed lungs.) Dying for love, it seems, is actually a lot more painful than the exquisite music of Verdi and Bellini suggests.”

RELATED

ROME — A Rome villa containing the only known ceiling painted by Caravaggio is set to go on a court-ordered auction block Tuesday, thanks to an inheritance dispute pitting the heirs of one of the Italian capital's aristocratic families against their step-mother, a Texas-born princess.

Top Stories

Church

NEW YORK - Some 21 years after it was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that brought down the Twin Towers in New York City, the new St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church rising in its place is among the most eagerly awaited architectural openings of 2022.

Events

STATEN ISLAND, NY – For yet another year, the community of Holy Trinity-St Nicholas in Staten Island honored couples celebrating 50+ years of marriage with a modest ceremony held at the church immediately following the Divine Liturgy on January 16.

Society

NEW YORK – New research into Greek artifacts looted by the Nazis was highlighted in the New York Times on January 18 as “the topic of the Nazi role in antiquities looting is increasingly drawing attention, in part through the work of scholars who are peeling back the mysteries of what happened to the objects that were excavated or seized eight decades ago.

Video

SNF’s Health Initiative Will Support Child and Adolescent Mental Health

ATHENS - When we think about childhood injuries, we usually think of scratches, a few stitches, maybe even a broken bone.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.