Callas and Visconti in Opera


Today is the anniversary of the death of Maria Callas.  She died in Paris, France, on 16th September 1977.

Last year I wrote on her masterclass in the Julliard School of Music in New York City  in 1971-1972, focusing on her teaching the singing of Rigoletto’a aria ”Cortigiani vil razza dannata”.

Remembering Callas today brought to me the memory of her collaboration with the gigantic figure of Luchino Visconti.

Visconti is the man who opened the door of Love in Callas’ existence. Callas became a different woman after meeting Visconti.

Visconti first saw and heard Callas perform in Wagner’s “Parsifal” in Rome in 1949.  Visconti instinctively felt that Callas was the singer and tragic actress that could work with him in his own operatic stagings.

The Visconti – Callas collaboration begun with the 1954 production of Spontini’s “La Vestale” in Milan’s La Scala.

In their joint appearance on French television in 1969 (see below), Visconti said: “I started to direct Opera bacause of , no, not bacause of, but for Maria Callas”.

Follow the link to Re-visioning Callas in order to read interesting relevant material and see two clips.

Four more operas followed: La sonnambula, La Traviata, Anna Bolena, and Iphigenie en Tauride. In a period of three years Visconti and Callas gave the world five wonderful operatic productions and performances.

In April 1969 Callas gave a series of interviews to French television, inviting as her guests some of her friends in life and in arts. One of the was Luchino Visconti. You can view the clip .