I imagine that if Maria Callas were born in 1993 she would have made her debut on Greece's Got Talent. All the elements are there: child prodigy, a pushy mother, commitment to training, and a sob story involving parental separation. Unfortunately La Divina was born in 1923, 70 years too early for the television talent show.
Maria Callas died in 1977 and last year a new documentary about her was released to commemorate the anniversary. It's the result of around four years' research by photographer and film maker Tom Volf. Part of his mission was to discover new and lost material about the singer, and one such artefact is a letter sent by Callas to Princess Grace of Monaco. It forms part of a small exhibition in the Grimaldi Forum this week, called Maria By Callas.
The exhibition consists of several panels containing images and words that trace the most important events in Callas's life. There are videos of her performances and a teaser of Volf's documentary, also entitled Maria By Callas, a screening of which is scheduled for Sunday 15 April at 15:00 in the venue's Salle Camille Blanc.
Tragedy seemed to dog Callas throughout her life. Besides the broken home, she was self-conscious about her body:
"my sister was thin, beautiful and attractive. So much so that my mother always favored her more than me. I was the black sheep, fat, clumsy and disliked."She dieted to lose weight and consequently lost the best of her voice. Her lover of around eight years, Aristotle Onassis, dropped her for Jackie Kennedy. Nine years later she died alone in Paris of a heart attack at the relatively young age of 53.
Much of the opera singer's life can be read about online, but seeing the bare bones of her story in the exhibition, much of it in her own words and with a backing track of opera arias, brings home the tragedy. She is not my favourite soprano, but it cannot be denied that she was one of the most influential talents of the opera.
Maria By Callas exhibition, 11-15 April 2018:
- Espace Indigo (Grimaldi Forum)
10 avenue Princesse Grace
Phone: +377 99 99 20 00