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Sunday November 18, 2018 4:00pm
Rainbow Theatre, Northumberland Mall, Cobourg
maria by callasFrom first time director Tom Volf, MARIA BY CALLAS: IN HER OWN WORDS is the definitive doc on the life and work of the Greek-American opera singer. Volf has spent nearly five years working on the film, which features never before seen or heard footage and performances of Callas.

Directed by: Tom Volf
Genre: Documentary
Runtime: 95 min
Language: English Sub-Titles


by Ariston Anderson (edited)

The new documentary about the world-famous soprano avoids going in-depth into Maria Callas' personal struggles, instead telling the story in her own words.

maria callasWhile numerous books have been written about the tumultuous life of Callas, Volf largely focuses on a story showing the positive aspects of her life, one he thinks she herself would have approved.

Volf said that he had the blessing of the two people closest to Callas, her butler and maid, whom she considered her family. “They of course suffered a lot things that happened about Callas in the last 40 years that were picturing her in a caricature: the scandals, the diva and also the things that were done about her intimate life that were going too far,” said Volf.

“And I think they understand that my take was first extremely respectful, not looking for any gossip or any sensational news but an honest work, that I would duly respect her as a woman and as an artist,” he said. “Therefore I received a lot of help because they felt this was the right thing to do. This was the thing they hoped would be done someday.”

In some instances the film works to set the record straight on historical gossip, including the infamous 1958 “Rome Walkout” that was said to have ruined her career. Suffering from bronchitis, Callas cancelled a performance of Norma after the first act, and was accused of walking out on the president of Italy, as well as the many notable stars in attendance. While the President’s wife called Callas afterwards, the media had a field day with the story, portraying her as a diva who wouldn’t finish performances.

maria by callas3 450In other instances the film drops hints at her inner turmoil, such as her strained relationship with her family or her depression after Aristotle Onassis left her for Jacqueline Kennedy, but this is limited to small sound bites she gives away in personal letters without going in-depth into her struggles.

When asked how honest a film can be if told in one voice, Volf defended the film as representing all sides of Callas’ life. “I did try to do an objective work as a filmmaker but the base of my material was strictly her own words, either from interviews or letters or recorded conversations,” he said.

“It doesn’t show her as a superficial, smiling, kind lady. I think the film portrays her as she was,” he said. “So perhaps the film gives an image less scandalous and less gossipy than what people could have had about Callas, but that was the point about having the film from her own point of view because that is the idea. So at that point it’s subjective what you as the public can judge. But you can judge only from her side.”