Legendary opera star Maria Callas died on 16th September 1977 at the age of just 53. Her personal life had all the passion and drama of the operatic roles that made her one of the biggest stars of the 20th century.
CALLAS is a fascinating insight into the private life of one of the word’s most enigmatic performers. Her love affair with the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, who ultimately left her for JFK’s widow Jackie Kennedy, is told through famous opera scenes from La Bohème, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, Tosca, Carmen and many more.
Written and produced by Niall Morris, the idea for CALLAS originated with a simple premise. “I was struck by the similarities between Maria’s private life and the roles she played on stage,” says Morris.
Morris adds, “I imagined her as Madame Butterfly, waiting for Pinkerton to return to her on his ship, when they would be reunited – something which never happens in the opera. I started to draw a parallel with Maria, waiting for Onassis onboard his famous ship, the Christina. He, too, failed to deliver on his great promises. That was just the beginning, as I soon discovered there were many other ways in which Maria’s life mirrored her art. When I realised her life was an opera in itself, the whole thing fell into place. The male roles in the operas play the men in her personal life and I created a scene where First Lady, Jackie Kennedy makes an appearance directly after her marriage to Onassis in 1968. It’s a great moment for the audience as it’s the first time Jackie has ever appeared in an opera. And yes, she sings!”
Presented fully staged with costumes and live orchestra, a large overhead screen shows historical footage of the life of Maria Callas brought together with a documentary-style narration. The much-loved British actor Simon Callow CBE provides the voice of this extraordinary story which has people transfixed by the larger-than-life details of Maria Callas’s triumphant and ultimately tragic life.
CALLAS is one of those rare shows that comes along just once in a generation. It captures the romance and glamour of a bygone era and has audiences standing and shouting ‘Encore!’