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MARIA CALLAS: Living and Dying for Art and Love
Documentary on the life and art of Maria Callas
Featuring Grace Bumbry, Placido Domingo, Tito Gobbi, Antonio Pappano and Franco Zefirelli.
Directed by Steve Cole
Produced by Chris Hunt and Alan Sievewright.
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Here we go again, another slobbering documentary on the glory and tragedy of Maria Callas, arguably the most written about opera singer in history. Steve Cole has gathered a handful of Callas worshippers for this new take on her life, a story told through one of her most famous roles, Pucciniís Tosca. †The all-star cast compares Callasís own tragic life, with that of the heroine in Pucciniís melodrama. All the topics are covered: her failed marriage to Meninghini, her stormy affair with Aristotle Onassis, her self-imposed absence from singing, her great return for the Covent Garden Tosca, her bitter rivalry with Jackie Kennedy and her premature death in 1977.

OK this is all fine and good. But it is a story that we already know. One that has been told from every angle possible, and frankly, there are simply no new superlatives to heap upon the Callas legend. It is kind of nice to see the Tosca excerpts, now legendary. But I for one just donít get what it is that drives opera queens to frenzy at the mere mention of Callasís name.

Letís face it. She involved herself in self-destructive relationships, she didnít take care of a voice that was never particularly beautiful in the first place, and she secluded herself in a Paris apartment, successfully willing herself to die. Callasís is a good story for a soap opera, let alone a grand opera.

Although this film is high enough on production values, it does not add any new insights into the amazing career and legend of this reclusive and difficult singer. By now the Callas story is of mythic proportions, and this little movie simply stokes the coals of it all.

Well made as it is, there is nothing to make it stand out amongst the hundreds of other similar efforts.

For Callas fanatics only.

Kevin Sutton




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