On September 1, the Bavarian Opera opened its new season with a different performance - "The Seven Deaths of Maria Callas" by Marina Abramovich. A few days later, on September 5, the show was replayed and broadcast live online so that people from all over the world could be immersed in this special death, through the characters on stage. Seven opera singers took part in the performance, recreating the scenes with the deaths of the various incarnations of Maria Callas in the operas: "Norma", "Tosca", "La Traviata", "Madame Butterfly", "Carmen", "Lucia di Lammermoor", " Othello.


For 31 years, Marina Abramovich has dreamed of making a show to pay homage to the great Callas, as she herself claims. For a long time she was obsessed with the opera prima, read all her biographies, listened to all her operas, watched her movies. What he finds is that in most of his operas, Callas's heroines die of love, of a broken heart. Whether they jump into the abyss, burn, be strangled, killed with a knife or just go crazy - the reason is always the same - impossible love. "I wanted to recreate the death scenes from these seven operas, these seven deaths in which Callas died before me," Abramovich said.


photo: Bavarian Opera

The task is ambitious and could hardly be accomplished by just one person. These are really difficult scenes, both for singing and for acting. That's why Marina entrusts each part to a different singer and uses something else that did not exist in the time of Callas on the opera stage - the film. During the performance, on the big screen behind the singers, pre-shot shots with the participation of William Defoe and Abramovich herself are broadcast, which illustrate what is happening in the respective opera, which is currently being performed.


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The shots are impressive and at times completely absorb the audience's attention, but they are a great addition to the voice singing on stage. This saves the physical reproduction of the scenes in front of the audience, as it would in a real opera performance. At the same time, singing is not allowed to turn into a concert in which the singer stands in front and nothing but singing happens. And in today's impatient and always fast-paced modernity, the simultaneous impact of all the senses is needed to keep the viewers' attention fixed until the very end.


The first scene is from La Traviata, and during the aria we see Abramovich's body lying on the bed. Next to her is William Defoe, who plays Aristotle Onassis. He caresses her, then places his head on her belly. The same bed appears on stage for an added effect, only without the actor. This is an allusion to the disembodied, dying Violetta, whose last strength will be taken away from tuberculosis at any moment. At the end of the aria, everything sinks into clouds and fog, and a voice whispers that death is not dangerous, it is not as scary as it seems.


Then we see Abramovich's (Callas) body leaning over the precipice of the Sant'Angelo Tower in Tosca, ready to fly to his next death. So we go through the seven deaths of Callas in her best roles. Finally, we find ourselves in Maria Callas's room, in her Paris apartment, where Abramovich recreates her personal death off stage, more horrifying than all seven artificial deaths. This is the horror of memories, her own loves, divisions, her (not someone else's) broken heart. Because on stage it's easy to be broken-hearted, it's not yours, it's the character you're playing. It's easy to die when only your character dies. But life is different, there are your personal nightmares, your own destiny, bearing the imprint of tragedy, like the destinies in operas.


In the show, Callas' death is only hinted at, leaving the bedroom for another room. In fact, Callas died of a heart attack. Then the maids appear on the stage and enter the room to clean. And this scene is a bit reminiscent of the moment when Violetta's belongings were sold out before she died. It is interesting how one of the maids, before leaving, turns on the turntable and covers it with black tulle, as a symbol of her eternal music, which will be heard long after her death. Then Marina Abramovich came on stage, "Caste Diva" sounded and in her golden glamorous outfit Callas said goodbye to the opera stage and the audience, carrying all its grandeur, beauty and talent.


photo: Bavarian Opera

It is an extraordinary event to experience this spectacle, to go through all the stage deaths of Callas and her own, as if you are going through the nine circles of hell - without the last one, it is your personal death. And although I don't particularly see Marina Abramovich in the role of Callas, what she has done for her is at a high level and deserves respect and esteem.

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