Maria Callas: La Divina - A Portrait (1987)

Genres - Music  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Music History, Vocal Music, Opera  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Ed Atkinson

This documentary follows the tumultuous life and career of opera singer Maria Callas. Using archival footage and interviews with Callas and critics, director Tony Palmer explains why this slender and beautiful singer was hailed by some as the greatest opera singer of the twentieth century while others called her a talentless fake. Callas rose to her status of diva by performing several lead soprano roles with a voice many called imperfect but full of emotion. It is this emotion that drew many to her and repulsed others. This emotion also tended to create problems in her personal life, giving ammunition to her detractors. The video explains how this tension created an intersting arc to Calla's career, seeing her reach the pinnacle of the opera world and then fall fast from its graces. Clips of live performances, like Calla's role as Tosca in a Puccini opera and Violetta in La Traviata are also worked into the program.