- Director: Tom Volf
- Producer: Thierry Bizot; Emmanuel Chain; Gaël Leiblang; Emmanuelle Lepers; Tom Volf
There was Maria and there was La Callas...two people in one person. And then there was the voice. Tom Volf's film is a celebration of that voice...accompanied by some previously unseen footage of the woman herself. For a fan, it is an utter joy.
Much has been written and said about Maria Callas...here, she speaks for herself...mostly as La Callas...but, snippets of Maria do creep in. Feminists will cringe as she talks about love and marriage and the Prince Charming who never materialised. It is amazing to [think and] hear this remarkable talent would have given it all up...for love. It seems to be true what they say: It's lonely at the top!
Seriously, you have to admire the staggering amount of work that went into the making of this fine film. Finding the 'lost' footage is an unenviable and admirable task. Maria by Callas is a labour-of-love...thank you Mr Volf for your labour. Sublime.
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.