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Maria by Callas

France, English | French | Italian, 90 mins

  • Director: Tom Volf
  • Producer: Thierry Bizot; Emmanuel Chain; Gaël Leiblang; Emmanuelle Lepers; Tom Volf

CGiii Comment

The most beautiful singing voice of the 20th century belonged to a Greek-American who grew up in New York City before moving to Athens shortly before WWII. Maria Callas was a prodigious talent from the first, but pushed by a determined stage mother, and driven by her own perfectionism, she took the world by storm, conquering the renowned opera stages of Rome, Paris, London and New York. Her fame was such she was hounded by paparazzi throughout the 1950s and 60s, and she became tabloid fodder for her (greatly exaggerated) "diva" reputation, and for a mildly scandalous love affair with one of the richest men in the world, Aristotle Onassis. (He ditched her for Jackie Kennedy, then regretted it.)

Tom Volf’s biography is in Callas’s own words. That is, it draws heavily from her extensive TV interviews with the likes of David Frost and Ed Murrow, supplemented with quotations from Maria’s memoirs and letters, read by the French actress Fanny Ardant. The personality that emerges is surprisingly open, charming and honest about both her fierce convictions and her self-doubt. This was a woman who felt deprived of a "normal" life as a mother and homemaker, but who was also keenly aware of her gifts and privilege, and the responsibilities of an artist to give of her best. Volf has unearthed reams of colour archival footage from her glory days, both on stage and off, and wisely treats us to unexpurgated recordings of some of the most sublime arias in opera.


Cast & Characters

Fanny Ardant as María Callas / Narration (voice)
Maria Callas
Aristotle Onassis
Vittorio De Sica
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Luchino Visconti
Omar Sharif

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