Maria Callas in Greece, years between traumas and triumphs

The portrait of Maria Callas on the facade of the house she occupied from 1940 to 1945 with her mother and sister, at 61 Patission Street, Athens, in 2023.

On Sunday June 3, 1979, the ashes of Maria Callas, died twenty-one months earlier in Pariswere spread off the coast of the island of Skorpios, in this Aegean Sea which rocked its loves with the Greek shipowner Aristotle Onis (1906-1975). A return to this homeland that Anna Maria Sofia Cecilia Kalogeropoulou, born in New York just one hundred years ago, on December 2, 1923, unambiguously claimed: “I belong to the Greek world. I married an Italian, the whole world honored me, but my blood is Greek, and no one can erase that.”, she declared in 1957 on an Athenian radio.

It was in fact in Athens that the young Maria, disembarked from the United States on March 6, 1937 at the age of 13, with her mother Evangelia (1894-1982) and her older sister Yakinthi (known as “Jackie”, 1917 -2004), will, for eight years, undertake the demanding apprenticeship of his art. Difficult years, grappling with war and deprivation – from the Nazi occupation to the civil war – as witnessed in the gripping documentary Mairi, Marianna, Maria. The unknown Greek years of Callas (2023), directed by Vasilis Louras and produced by Stella Angeletou, respectively director of marketing and communications and production director of the Greek National Opera. A fascinating work whose broadcast on December 8 on France 5 will be, for many, a revelation.

“Remained in the shadows until now, these years from 1937 to 1945 are nevertheless absolutely decisiveures Vasilis Louras, because they carry the seeds of experiences of life and death, profound traumas, great successes: the triumph of inner strength and stubborn work, but also of resistance against suffering and adversity.he concludes at the end of the screening on November 25, in preview, at the Greek Foundation of Film Archives in Athens.

Two hours of testimonies and archives, including images of the open sea while we hear the last working tape recorded by Divina, a few days after her disappearance, rehearsing with the Greek pianist, Vo Devetzi (1927- 1987), the prayer of Madre, pietosa Vergineof The Force of Destiny, by Verdi. An unbearable mise en abyme: in this voice eaten away by time, the same determination, the same relentlessness and the same desire for perfection, qualities immediately identified by her first teacher, Maria Trivella, then the famous Elvira de Hidalgo (1891- 1980), who was her mentor at the prestigious Athens Conservatory, before becoming her friend.

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