January 30, 2023

“What moved me into this project is Maria Callas’ duality. The diva, the divina, the dona, immense talent,” the Italian film star tells PEOPLE of Maria Callas’ Letters and Memoirs

Published by Admin
January 26, 2023

 26/01/2023

The famous actress was invited to the reception at the consular residence, ahead of the performance “Maria Callas: letters and memories” at the Beacon Theater on Broadway

Tomorrow (27.01.2023) the show about Maria Callas, with Monica Bellucci, will be staged in New York and Broadway.

On the occasion of the performance, Monica Bellucci was, as an official guest, at the Consulate General of Greece in New York, where a mini reception was organized. Monica Bellucci stars in Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs, which opens Friday at 8 p.m. at the Beacon Theater on Broadway.

With the show’s director, Tom Wolf, by her side, the popular actress “won” the audience with her simplicity and kindness, as well as the warmth with which she approached the role of Maria Callas.

The Consul General of Greece in New York, Dinos Constantinou, warmly thanked Monica Bellucci for her presence, pointing out the quality of the performance and the way she portrays the legendary Maria Callas.

“If I may use a line I read from an expert, that the incredibly brilliant actress Monica Bellucci embodies the incredibly brilliant soprano Maria Callas. I would like to thank Monica Bellucci and Tom Wolfe.

It’s the year of Maria Callas and that’s what we should focus on, because she was such a fantastic personality and a great soprano, I think the best of all time,” said Mr. Constantinou, while Tom Wolf emphasized that it is “very important to you are at the Consulate General of Greece in New York to honor a Greek-American, like Maria Kallas.”

For her part, Monica Bellucci referred to the interest that the personality of Maria Callas aroused in her, but also the way in which she rose to the top and left her mark, which remains indelible even today.

“It was something that moved me deeply. Now we are here and I hope you enjoy the show on January 27th. What touched me most about Maria Callas was this duality between the diva and a woman with a simple heart. A woman who died of grief and a broken heart. We are here for her,” said the actress.

Afterwards, Monica Bellucci had a short conversation and was photographed with the expatriate guests, while she also received a bouquet of flowers as a commemorative gift, by the hand of businessman Dimitris Petridis.

Published by Admin
January 26, 2023

A black-and-white portrait of Monica Bellucci, wearing long straight hair and a dark outfit.
Monica Bellucci, who has been playing Maria Callas in a one-woman show off and on since 2019, will bring her performance to New York this week.Credit…Celeste Sloman for The New York Times

There are opera stars, and then there is Maria Callas.

Birgit Nilsson or Luciano Pavarotti may have been great, but they haven’t sung posthumously. Callas, on the other hand, has toured — as a hologram — decades after her death. Few have heard of the William Luce play “Bravo, Caruso!,” about that classic tenor, but Terrence McNally’s “Master Class,” which revolves around Callas’s exacting methods as a teacher, won a Tony Award in 1996 and is regularly revived.

This soprano’s fans — the fiercest of whom the critic Anthony Tommasini affectionately dubbed “Callas crazoids” — will be kept busy this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of her birth. Early out of the gate, in New York, is the actress Monica Bellucci, who is bringing her solo show, “Maria Callas: Letters & Memoirs,” to the Beacon Theater on Friday.

Bellucci, 58, has been performing the piece, in which she reads selections from Callas’s writings, on and off since 2019. Yet she still finds it hard to explain the peculiar, enduring hold that the soprano often referred to as La Divina still has on the collective imagination.

“She had an aura,” Bellucci said during a recent visit to New York.

Bellucci herself was regally resplendent that day, projecting the kind of smoky-voiced elegance often associated with marquee names of Golden Age Hollywood. But her résumé is less predictable than that reference might suggest: She has leapfrogged from intimate dramas to the James Bond movie “Spectre,” from Mary Magdalene in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” to the victim of a brutal rape in the French “provoc-auteur” Gaspar Noé’s “Irréversible.” Her reputation as a symbol of European glamour and sophistication is so firmly established that she made fun of it in an episode of the series “Call My Agent!” (One crucial difference from that guest appearance: “I never had a relationship with my agent,” she clarified with a laugh.)

A historical photograph shows Maria Callas greeting fans, who have their arms outstretched to her at the foot of the stage at Carnegie Hall.
Still, as open to new adventures as Bellucci has been, she had steered clear of theater. Undaunted, the director, writer and photographer Tom Volf, who had made the 2018 documentary “Maria by Callas,” trekked to her apartment to pitch a project based on his book “Maria Callas: Lettres & Mémoires.”

“I remember we were in the living room, and she opened the book randomly and started reading out loud,” Volf, 37, said in a video interview. “That’s when I really saw the alchemy right away. Suddenly her physique, her attitude, her emotion were matching the one that I sensed was Callas’s, especially in some specific letters where you can see the woman and not the artist or the public figure.

“I call it an alchemy; I think it’s beyond resemblance,” he continued. “I believe in destiny, like Callas did.” (Whenever Callas comes up, quasi-spiritual references to “aura” and “destiny” have a way of seeping into the conversation.)

Equally bowled over, Bellucci forgot her longstanding reservations about appearing onstage. “The sense of beauty I felt was stronger than being scared,” she said. “I wanted to share what I felt with other people. It was through theater that I could get into that.”

It’s hard to deny that a Callas-Bellucci pairing feels like it was predestined. Bellucci even played a Callas-like Italian opera star nicknamed La Fiamma in Season 3 of the series “Mozart in the Jungle.” Beyond their physical resemblance, Bellucci, an Italian-born Parisian, has led a border-crossing, multilingual international career, just like Callas, a Greek, New York-born singer decades earlier.

Both had to navigate the specific tests that greet famous female celebrities. “I think that Monica can very instinctively and strongly relate to Callas as a woman,” Volf said. “Perhaps because she understands the duality between trying to lead a life as a woman and an artist with worldwide fame, and all the difficulties and the challenges that come with it.”

The Callas mystique, beyond her acting and singing talent, was fed by an agitated, to put it mildly, personal life. She was rumored to have bitter rivalries with colleagues; was crushed by a torrid and unhappy affair with the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis; and had a conflicted relationship with her body. (She lost a considerable amount of weight in a crash diet, which some blame for her eventual vocal issues.)

“She’s someone who had the courage to follow her heart, so that’s why when people say she had a tragic life. …” Bellucci said, trailing off. “She had a brave life. She wanted to divorce in a moment when, in Italy, divorce was forbidden. She’s still inspiring today because she had everybody against her and she was a fighter.”

Callas’s physical reinvention can be also be seen as a sign of autonomy rather than of weakness. “She created what she wanted to be, like many, many, many people in the business,” Bellucci said sympathetically. “Marilyn Monroe wasn’t the blonde bombshell when she started. We call this ‘les femmes du spectacle’: They know how to create illusion. An artist uses her own body as a transmitter, as a way to show themselves. The body becomes an instrument.”

At the Beacon, Bellucci’s instrument will be sheathed in one of Callas’s actual dresses, a black Saint Laurent number that Volf borrowed from a private collection in Milan. The couch that plays a central role, however, is only a replica of one Callas had at her apartment on Avenue Georges-Mandel in Paris.

“The idea was a ghost of Callas is coming back to her house,” Bellucci said. “So I move to different places on the sofa, as if it represents this circuit of her life, from when she’s young, full of excitement, and then when she was more mature, finding a balance between work and private life. And then the end, when she was in her sadness and melancholy, but so elegant in that.”

Because this is not a biographical show per se, but rather a peek into the singer’s more intimate side, in conversation Bellucci and Volf often differentiated between Callas and Maria, as a way to separate her public and private personas. They also pointed out that “Master Class,” for example, focused on a very specific element of her life: “This was the hard part of her,” Bellucci said. “People used to say that she had a temper. Actually, she was uncompromising and completely dedicated to her work with her soul, her heart.

“But the more intimate part of her,” Bellucci continued, “the one that nobody knows, was so fragile and sensitive. And this sensitivity was also the base of her talent: She had the capacity to perceive things like a child. But nobody protected this child — not her mother, not her family. No men protected this child. So the child gets destroyed, and the artist as well.”

As rich as her experience with “Letters & Memoirs” has been, Bellucci is not sure she will stick with theater. She said she had turned down, at least for now, an offer to play Medea — not coincidentally, perhaps, the role that gave Callas her sole movie experience, under the direction of Pier Paolo Pasolini.

“I think maybe Callas did the one film, and I’m going to do one experience in theater,” Bellucci said. “I’m very thankful for the experience, and I’m going away like I came.”

A version of this article appears in print on Jan. 26, 2023, Section C, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Reviving The Aura Of a Diva.

Published by Admin
January 24, 2023

Monica Bellucci sits down with Kyle Meredith to talk about Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs, the one-person show that she’s been performing in since 2019.

The actress tells us how she got the role and how it’s affected her relationship with the famed opera singer, which operas she uses in her preparation, and how playing a musician differs from her other roles. She also discusses the documentary that will come from the show.

Bellucci also dives into her upcoming role in Mafia Mamma opposite Toni Collette, and if she would have liked to reprise her role as Persephone in the recent Matrix sequel.

Listen to Monica Bellucci chat about Maria Callas and more in the new episode above, or watch the chat via YouTube below. As always, we’d love for you to like, review, and subscribe to KMW wherever you get your podcasts, and keep up to date with all our series by following the Consequence Podcast Network.

Published by Admin
January 22, 2023

By David Salazar

Back in 2019, Tom Volf, the director of the famed “Marias by Callas” set out to put on a play that, in a similar vein to his famed documentary, allowed the iconic soprano to tell her story through a trove of letters and memoirs she had written. His choice to bring the famed diva to life? Iconic film star Monica Bellucci.

Per IMDB, the Italian actor has appeared in over 80 films and TV shows throughout her extensive career. She has been in everything from “The Matrix” trilogy, “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Spectre,” “The Miracle,” “Twin Peaks,” “Call My Agent,” “Shoot ‘Em Up,” “Irreversible,” “Dracula…” the list goes on and on.

But she had never performed on a theater stage. Never. And by her own admission, it resulted from crippling stage fright.

So Volf had his work cut out for him in bringing the superstar actress to the stage to undertake a project in which she would have to personify one of the most famous cultural icons of the 20th century.

His efforts paid off. Over the past three years, the duo and their team have brought “Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs” to Paris, Athens, Rome, Milan, and London. And now, on Jan. 27, 2023, in the year of Callas’ centennial (she was born on December 2, 1923), the tour will come to an end at the Beacon Theater in New York City, the birthplace of La Divina.

OperaWire had a chance to speak with Bellucci prior to her New York performance about how she pushed past her stage fright for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

OperaWire: What is your relationship to opera? When were you first exposed to it?

Monica Bellucci: I’m Italian, so you know, it’s part of the culture. I’m not completely into it, but those kinds of voices, those kinds of sounds – la Tosca, la Norma – it’s in our hearts.

Show more ...

OW: And what about Maria Callas? What did you know about her? Had you heard recordings?

MB: I knew the great singer, the performer. Even when I did “Mozart in the Jungle,” I approached Callas to get to know the attitude, like I did with [Anna] Netrebko and [Montserrat] Caballé. But I didn’t know anything about Maria, the story about Onassis, or that she was an incredible diva Divina.

But then, when Tom Volf came to me with this project, he gave me these letters, these memoirs, and I realized the woman, the person. It was a completely different story because I could get into her vulnerabilities and her sensibility. That’s why, even though it was my first time on stage when I read those letters and memoirs, I couldn’t resist. I said, “I’m scared, but I want to do it because those letters and memoirs really inspired me, and I want to share them with someone else.”

OW: In other interviews, you mentioned that you have stage fright and that it is like doing violence to yourself. How has that evolved as you have done more performances of the play?

MB: I have to say that I’m always scared, even now. I come from cinema; I am not a theater beast. It is another world. When you make cinema, even if it is a big production, you are in a closed place. You can repeat things if you’re wrong. You know everyone. You feel protected.

But here, it’s a small project. We started in [Studio] Marigny, which is nice but 400 people. And then we performed in Herodeon Atticus. That was 4,000 people. We never expected that it could become such an international tour in three languages. But even now, I’m still scared, and I ask myself why I am doing this. But the answer is that it’s because it’s so beautiful. We give beauty. We give poetry. We give a moment of reality and truth because the relationship with the public is completely different from cinema. It’s so real, direct, unique, and it’s like you share the same breath for one hour. You can’t lie. People can feel your soul. They can see your soul.

At Atticus, which is open and antique, you could see the moon up in the sky. I have to say that those places also really inspire you. When you are in beautiful places, with history and energy coming from so far, you get inspired by it. When you are inspired, you want to share beauty. You share with the audience, but also you receive a lot as well.

OW: What about doing this play made you finally decide to step into theater?

MB: This was something that I felt right away. Tom [Volf] came to my house, and I read a letter to Onassis and a memory about music. And I said, “Thank you Tom for thinking about me.” I didn’t ask for a few days. I said immediately, “Okay.” He came to my house in October, and then we did the first performances in November, so we didn’t have much time to prepare. I thought they were crazy to do it so fast, but they all believed in me. And they gave me the strength to do it. And until now, I feel protected.

OW: Has your experience in this play affected how you approach your work in cinema?

MB: I think now I am more secure and able to control myself. It usually takes me two days to come from a performance. Especially with the orchestra because the music gets into your veins. The next morning I wake up with the music in my head because the emotion brings me so high that I have to take time to calm down.

OW: How would you describe your experience of stepping into the life of Maria Callas on stage?

MB: It was so intimate. It’s just the sofa, the gramophone, and the lights. People have told me they feel we start with Monica and finish with Maria. And so much of this comes from the lights, which create a certain magic.

But the experience is an evolution. The sofa and each movement around the sofa is a new period of life. It’s like a ghost. It’s like Maria’s ghost coming into the apartment and revisiting her life. From her youth, full of excitement and waiting for success, and then her maturity and trying to find the balance between her work and her private life, and then her last years, waiting in her apartment when she handled her extreme melancholy with elegance. So it’s all of her life in some way. Even the voice changed. I do a younger voice at the start and then little by little you can hear her getting tired.

I’m a mature woman. I can understand her better. When she died, she was 52. I am already older than she was, so I could understand a lot of what was going through her mind at that time.

OW: What kind of other research or preparation did you do for the role?

MB: Tom Volf helped me a lot with his documentary. It is a beautiful piece. When I saw this document about her life, I learned so much. It’s incredible when she was talking about her work, she was so secure and firm. But then, when she talked about her own life, she was someone that could be so childish.

She sacrificed all of her youth for work. So she didn’t have so much experience in real life, and you can feel that. So when she met Onassis, it was an incredible moment of light for her. Through him, she discovered her femininity, and she wanted to explore it to the fullest. Because her first husband was like a father but not a true father. He took all her money, and when she wanted to divorce, she didn’t have anything. When she died, she had only an apartment and some jewels and nothing else. Life destroyed the human being, the person. Even the artist wasn’t there anymore.’

OW: When you look back at Maria Callas, what do you think makes her so special?

MB: I think that she is a great example for women today. She really fought for her freedom because she fought for divorce during a moment when it wasn’t permitted. She really had the courage to follow her heart. Before she sacrificed her youth for work and then she sacrificed her career for love. So all those sacrifices, there is something very sincere about her. That’s why she died of a broken heart. Because if you aren’t sincere, no one is going to break your heart.

And that’s why I think she is still alive today. Of course, she was one of the best sopranos ever, but also, there is more than that. People were going to hear Callas but also to see Callas. There was an aura about her. Opera is a beautiful world, but it is a closed world. And she transcended even that. She was as popular as a rock star. When she came to New York, people were waiting in line just to see her. She was like one of the Rolling Stones. People were sleeping in front of the theater to see her. There was something about her that was beyond her artistry. That’s why we are still here talking about her.

I think it’s no coincidence that she was born in New York in 1923 and we will perform the last day of this tour here in New York in 2023. This is amazing. This is special.

OW: Do you have any favorite recordings of Callas?

MB: Every time before going on stage, I would listen to her “Carmen” [habanera] from Hamburg. It is so full of energy. I feel she is happy. Not just in the singing, but I can see a happy woman in love. This gave me strength.

OW: There is going to be a documentary about this tour over the years. Can you speak a bit about that?

MB: We recorded in Istanbul, Venice, London, Châtelet, and now we will do it in the Beacon. Then we will go to an apartment in Paris and shoot for a few days there. It will be a feature documentary on this process. Sometimes when you do theater, you have this experience, but then it disappears. So here we will stop time with this documentary and see what we did over three years.

OW: Finally, you have repeatedly said that you believe this will be your only theater experience of your career. Coincidentally, Maria Callas only appeared in one film in her career – Pasolini’s “Medea.” What was your experience of Callas’ performance in this movie?

MB: She was great. I was shocked when I saw it. She was coming from opera, where everything is larger than life, and it was shocking to me how subtle she was. The emotions are real. The pain is real. Everything that she is going through is so clear and real.

It’s great that today we are still here talking about her. And she inspires so many artists today. I was in Paris, and I saw Marina Abramovic’s show. She is still alive in all of this work. Her story is so unique. Her life is like a Greek tragedy.

(с) https://operawire.com/q-a-iconic-actress-monica-bellucci-on-being-maria-callas-in-letters-memoirs/

Published by Admin
January 14, 2023
December 31, 2022

 

 

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Published by Admin