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Maria Callas – Letters & Memoirs

To celebrate the publication of the book ‘Maria Callas Letters & Memoirs’, glamorous Italian film star Monica Bellucci took to the stage for the first time to deliver a series of exceptional readings at Studio Marigny in Paris that revealed the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become an international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.

Now she brings her critically acclaimed evening to London’s West End for one night only.

From Maria Callas’s modest childhood in New York to the war years in Athens, from her discreet beginnings at the Opera to the pinnacle of a planetary career marred by scandals and personal tribulations, from an idealised love for her husband to her inflamed passion for Onassis, this unique evening reveals the true story behind the opera legend…in her own words.

“One day, I will write my autobiography, I would like to write it myself in order to clear things up. There have been so many lies told about me…” Maria Callas’s wish finally became a reality.

Published in 2019, ‘Maria Callas Letters & Memoirs’ wove together more than 350 unpublished letters spanning 1946-1977 with her unfinished memoirs. It was a moving and fascinating self-portrait of the greatest voice of the 20th century.

Italian-born Monica Bellucci began her career as a fashion model, modelling for Dolce & Gabbana and Dior, before making a transition to Italian films and later American films and French films. She was a Bride of Dracula in Francis Ford Coppola’s gothic romance film ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ and Malèna Scordia in the Italian-language romantic drama ‘Malèna’. In 1996, she was nominated for a César Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Lisa in ‘The Apartment’. She was in the controversial Gaspar Noé arthouse horror film ‘Irréversible’ and portrayed Mary Magdalene in Mel Gibson’s biblical drama ‘The Passion of the Christ’. In cult sci-fi films ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘The Matrix Revolutions’, she played Persephone, and she was unforgettable as Bond girl Lucia Sciarr in ‘Spectre’.  On TV, she appeared as herself in ”Call My Agent’ and guest-starred in ‘Mozart in the Jungle’.

As the director of the film ‘Maria by Callas’, Curator of the eponymous exhibition, and the author of two volumes of a hereto unpublished iconography, Tom Volf is recognised nowadays as one of the world’s greatest specialists of the famous opera singer. He also launched the Maria Callas Endowment Fund, dedicated to the preservation of the artist’s personal archives. This book is the fruit of five years of research all over the world.

Maria Callas (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977) was an American-born Greek soprano who was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century. Many critics praised her bel canto technique, wide-ranging voice and dramatic interpretations. Her repertoire ranged from classical opera seria to the bel canto operas of Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini and, further, to the works of Verdi and Puccini; and, in her early career, to the music dramas of Wagner. Her musical and dramatic talents led to her being hailed as La Divina (“the Divine one”). Born in Manhattan, New York City, to Greek immigrant parents, she was raised by an overbearing mother who had wanted a son. Maria received her musical education in Greece at age 13 and later established her career in Italy. Forced to deal with the exigencies of 1940s wartime poverty and with near-sightedness that left her nearly blind onstage, she endured struggles and scandal over the course of her career. She notably underwent a mid-career weight loss, which might have contributed to her vocal decline and the premature end of her career. The press exulted in publicising Callas’s temperamental behaviour, her supposed rivalry with Renata Tebaldi and her love affair with Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Although her dramatic life and personal tragedy have often overshadowed Callas the artist in the popular press, her artistic achievements were such that Leonard Bernstein called her “the Bible of opera” and her influence so enduring that, in 2006, Opera News wrote of her: “Nearly thirty years after her death, she’s still the definition of the diva as artist—and still one of classical music’s best-selling vocalists.”

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