“Maria by Callas” is the definitive documentary on the extraordinary life and work of the legendary opera singer and features never-before-seen footage and performances.
Directed and produced by Tom Volf, this is the first film to tell Callas’ story completely in her own words.
The film (available on Amazon) includes performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs — nearly all of which have never been shown to the public.
Volf’s efforts depict the rise of a woman who came from humble beginnings in New York City to become an international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.
Assembling the material for the film took Volf four years of research, including personal outreach to dozens of Callas’s closest friends and associates, who allowed him to use their personal memorabilia.
When recordings of Callas’ voice aren’t available, Joyce DiDonato, one of contemporary opera’s biggest stars, narrates in her words.
Poet and historian Dan Georgakas wrote a review of the film which he shared with The Pappas Post.
Originating from Detroit, Michigan, Georgakas specializes in oral history and the American labor movement. He has published numerous books including “My Detroit: Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City.”
His review of the film follows below.
Georgakas’ review of “Maria by Callas”
From the onset of his documentary, director Tom Volf establishes his desire to understand the relationship between Maria Kalogeropoulou and her alter ego, Maria Callas.
Early in the film, Maria states that, “Children should have an amazing childhood, and I just never had that.” In fact, she had bitter fights with her mother as she evolved from a chubby, near-sighted, Greek-American teenager into Callas, a svelte super-star of opera.
Her life is explored in interviews given by Maria, contemporary news footage of Callas, comments of adoring fans and excerpts from her own writing. She notes, “Maria must live according to the standards of Callas.”
Although a handful of talking heads briefly provide telling psychological insights, not hagiography, the film offers scant biographical data. Its only detailed account in that area are sequences concerning Maria’s love for Aristotle Onassis and the role of Jackie Kennedy in disrupting it.
Much as Onassis seems to have reveled in sharing in the celebrity of Callas, he also adored the humble Maria who states, “I would give up everything to have a family and children.”
Volf accepts without comment Callas’s explanations of her various fierce disputes with critics and opera house managers. His priority is not scandal mongering, but how Maria inhabited Callas and how Callas allowed Maria a vehicle to dramatically express emotions on stage she found difficult to release in real life.
Rather than dwelling on tragic or contradictory aspects of this Callas/Maria fusion, the film spotlights her craft and the strength of her character.
Callas died at age 53, planning yet another musical venture while retaining a tenuous relationship with Onassis. Volf has excelled in capturing her spirit and artistic integrity.
Watch the trailer
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