Search - Tony Palmer's Film About Maria Callas - 30th Anniversary Edition on DVD

Tony Palmer's Film About Maria Callas - 30th Anniversary Edition
Tony Palmer's Film About Maria Callas - 30th Anniversary Edition
Actors: Zeffirelli, Meneghini, Onassis, Sciutti, Visconti
Director: Tony Palmer
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
NR     2008     1hr 37min

This documentary reveals many intimate and astonishing facts about Maria Callas that many people may not know. Here we witness on stage a broken woman who sings nakedly from her heart, about herself and her life, who acts ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Zeffirelli, Meneghini, Onassis, Sciutti, Visconti
Director: Tony Palmer
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Educational, Documentary
Studio: Tony Palmer Films
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/13/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 37min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: German, French, Spanish, Italian

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Movie Reviews

A Riveting Video Biography of Maria Callas
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 06/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film by Tony Palmer was originally made thirty years ago but I had never seen it before. I have never been a huge fan of Callas (although I do think her recorded Tosca is the dramatically finest I know), and I came away from it stunned at the tragedy of her life and with immense respect for how she handled her admittedly somewhat compromised gifts. This DVD consists of a chronological retelling of her life story -- one that surely has all the makings itself of an opera; why hasn't anyone written one yet? -- and includes wonderful (mostly) black-and-white video clips of excerpts from performances by and interviews (as well as newsreel items) with Callas. The musical clips includes such things as 'Un voce poco far' (Barber of Seville), 'Oh, s'io potessi' (Pirata), 'Nacqui all'affanno' (Cenerentola), 'Tacea la notte placida' (Trovatore), 'Tu che la vanità' (Don Carlos), 'Ah, non credea mirarti' (Sonnambula), 'O mio babbino caro' (Gianni Schicchi), and a stunning 'Vissi d'arte' (Tosca). There are numerous interviews with such operatic luminaries who knew and worked with her -- Giuseppe di Stefano, Franco Zeffirelli, Graziella Sciutti, Luchino Visconti, John Ardoin, Lord Harewood, John Copley, Elvira de Hidalgo (her teacher), Tito Gobbi, Carlo Maria Giulini as well as Arianna Stassinopoulos (her biographer). Much attention is paid to her marriage to Giovanni Battista Meneghini, and her long and heartbreaking affair with and abandonment by Aristotle Onassis.

Tony Palmer constructs a biography with an operatic narrative arch, beginning with her birth in Manhattan and culminating in her death at age 53 in Paris, alone and nearly penniless. This is a superb example of video biography and I came away with new respect for this tough but fragile artist who sacrificed all for her art. I recommend it strongly not only for fans of Callas but for opera lovers in general.

Sound: Stereo; Format 16:9; Subtitles in French, Italian, Spanish, German; Total running time: 92 minutes

Scott Morrison"
The story of Maria vs. "La Callas"
T. Fisher | 08/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am very glad to have found this film, which provides the kind of definitive documentary of Maria Callas I had been hoping to find. Because it was filmed 30 years ago, it contains plenty of first-hand accounts of Callas and her life by people who knew her, worked with her, or were her friends.

The director repeatedly depicts her life as a struggle between "Maria, the woman" and "Callas, the artist". I was tempted to dismiss this as a rather facile storytelling device until late in the film, when her secretary says that Callas herself used this contrast all the time. She would talk about her stage persona as "La Callas", as if it were another person.

This "Maria vs. Callas" interpretation goes a long way toward explaining the tragedy of her life -- starting as a talented singer with an unusual voice, but a very overweight woman who never experienced true love or passion. Her most successful period as an artist was before she left her husband, Giovanni Battista Meneghini, in 1959 after starting her affair with Aristotle Onassis. With Onassis, the woman blossomed but the artist suffered. Then after Onassis abandoned her suddenly in favor of Jacqueline Kennedy, the woman was devastated and the artist never performed again at her earlier peak levels.

The film is filled with insightful interview footage. I particularly appreciated the comments by her secretary and by Franco Zeffirelli. The film contains quite a bit of footage of Callas, but in general it is from later in her career and from concerts rather than operas.

The one exception is limited footage from "Tosca" in 1964, which was filmed for the BBC. That is a shame, because what set Callas apart was not her voice, but her acting and dramatic presence. Callas herself acknowledged that she sometimes wished to have the voice of Renata Tebaldi instead. Unfortunately, there is not much film out there of Callas in performance.

But in the end, this isn't a performance compilation, but a documentary. All in all, it's a great one. Highly recommended!