CALLAS: As interpreted by…
In the ever-evolving world of art, one name stands out: Maria Callas. Her remarkable journey and magnetic appeal have inspired artists across various mediums. From photographers capturing her eternal elegance to street artists injecting youthful energy into her legacy, Callas remains a muse for creative visionaries worldwide. Exploring Callas's reinterpretation in contemporary art reveals her enduring influence, bridging generations and resonating with modern artists and enthusiasts.
Callas in photography
Cecil Beaton, the legendary British photographer and designer, beautifully captured Maria Callas in 1957. This iconic photograph freezes a moment of Callas's elegance and grace, revealing her inner depths. Beaton's photography masterfully embodies the essence of his subjects, turning this portrait of Callas into an enduring work of art and a timeless representation of her persona.
Callas in pop-art
Widely celebrated by opera buffs, Maria Callas became a subject of Andy Warhol's iconic artwork during the 1970s. The renowned pop artist, known for his silkscreen prints featuring various celebrities, paid homage to the legendary soprano, highlighting her prominent place in popular culture.
In addition to his artistic pursuits, Andy Warhol held a deep-seated passion for opera. He meticulously recorded live broadcasts and amassed an extensive collection of opera vinyl records. Although this passion remained somewhat discreet, it occasionally surfaced in his legendary studio, "The Factory," where opinions diverged between those who favored Maria Callas and those with a preference for rock music.
In Warhol's experimental text, "A: A Novel," he effusively praised Maria Callas as "the unique, the eternally popular Maria Callas," acknowledging her unparalleled mastery of Italian opera. Repeatedly, he referred to her as "la regina del mondo" (the queen of the world), capturing the essence of her artistic presence in the succinct phrase, "She's too much."
Callas in cover-art
On October 29, 1956, Time featured on its cover an astonishingly beautiful portrait of Maria Callas, who had “last week…swept into New York,” in the magazine’s own words, to prepare for her historic appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in the title role of Bellini’s Norma the following week. Her appearance on the cover, in Henry Koerner’s luscious interpretation, was obviously a good advertisement for her New York debut, which occurred at the midpoint of a career marked by a stupendous climb from poverty and obesity to international fame.
Callas in painting
Callas had the fascination of a flower whose beauty is enhanced by the brevity of its life. Portrait of the singer Maria Callas (1923-77), painted by Ulisse Sartini, at Museo Teatrale alla Scala.
Callas in performing arts
The “7 Deaths of Maria Callas," a groundbreaking opera project, is the brainchild of renowned performance artist Marina Abramović. This extraordinary production reimagines seven significant soprano arias from the repertoire of Maria Callas, composed by Bellini, Bizet, Donizetti, Puccini, and Verdi. The music is arranged by Serbian composer Marko Nikodijević, and these iconic arias are performed alongside seven films featuring Marina Abramović and co-star Willem Dafoe, who each meet their demise seven times on stage.
The performance unfolds with a dedicated focus on the dramatic climaxes of each on-stage death, culminating with Abramović personally portraying the real-life passing of Maria Callas, who died alone from a heart attack in her grand Paris apartment in 1977 after years of living in exile and isolation. This multimedia extravaganza combines new music, performance art, and video, featuring costumes by Riccardo Tisci. The films also showcase Willem Dafoe, who represents Abramović's recurring assassin, symbolizing her heartbreak personified by Aristotle Onassis.
Callas in sculpture
One of Athens’ most striking contemporary sculptures is the monumental portrayal of the legendary opera soprano, Maria Callas, located in Madrid Square in Hilton district. Created by sculptor Aspasia Papadoperaki, it captures Callas with exquisite detail. She stands upright with a meticulously crafted torso, reminiscent of ancient column architecture, and her gaze directed upward. Her hands are gracefully folded on her chest, symbolizing her deep connection with the enthusiasm, acceptance, and love of her audience. This sculpture exudes grandeur, serenity, and lyricism, all set on a low, uneven stone base.
Callas in street art
From the bustling street art scenes of Athens downtown and Patras in Greece to the enchanting corners of Napoli in Italy and the thriving artistic hub of Ventura, California, visionary artists such as Ms. Aikaterini, Kleomenis Kostopoulos, Roxy in the Box, Spaco, and David Flores have crafted distinct homages to Maria Callas. These contemporary interpretations of the legendary soprano inject the urban canvas with a vigorous spirit, harmonizing tradition with a new-age sensibility.
MUST VISITS IN ATHENS
Are you currently in Athens and looking for some more artistic inspiration on Callas? Here are three destinations you definitely don't want to miss.
UNBOXING CALLAS: An Archival Exploration of the Pyromallis Collection and the GNO Archive
The Greek National Opera is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas' birth with the UNBOXING CALLAS exhibition. This show, curated by Vassilis Zidianakis, draws from various archival collections, including those of the Greek National Opera and collector Dimitris Pyromallis. It features original works by contemporary artists inspired by these archives. The exhibition takes a performative approach, presenting its content on worktops, resembling a research lab. It corrects dominant narratives and preserves Callas' legacy while offering a fresh perspective on her life and art. Learn more here.
The Maria Callas Museum
Now open to the public, the MCM features more than 1,000 items belonging to or associated with Callas, including priceless historical artifacts such as rare live recordings, personal items, record collections, sheet music, photographs, dresses, jewellery and much more. The Maria Callas Museum is a remarkable tribute to the life and work of the renowned opera singer. It offers an immersive experience on two floors, with rooms dedicated to capturing the essence of her famous operas and an exploration of her influential masterclasses at the Juilliard School in New York. The exhibition thoughtfully showcases various milestones of her journey, from her formative years to her final moments. Learn more here.
“Callas – Paris, 1958” by Tom Volf
Maria Callas' legendary 1958 Paris Opera debut is making its big-screen debut in full-color 4K with Dolby Atmos, exclusively in honor of her 100th anniversary. Titled "Callas – Paris, 1958," this remarkable operatic masterpiece is brought to you by the creators of the film "Maria by Callas," under the direction and production of acclaimed French director Tom Volf, an internationally recognized collector and authority on Maria Callas. Co-produced and meticulously restored by Samuel Francois-Steininger, and with worldwide distribution by Piece of Magic Entertainment, this special screening is scheduled for December 2 and 3 in select cinemas.