Maria By Callas

Ave, Maria or The legendary diva - in her own words

Maria By Callas, an adoring profile of the Greek-American opera legend, is a one-sided documentary, using Callas’s own words in journals, letters and interview appearances to narrate her personal history. This is not meant as criticism: it’s only fair that Callas’s voice finally gets heard off the stage, given how much the tabloids reinforced her image as a tempestuous diva, when the real person was much more complicated.

Poster for the first-person doc Maria By CallasMaria By Callas understands the word ‘diva’ as a sexist code for women who are uncompromising in support of their craft. When men are considered perfectionists, they’re praised for their meticulous attention to detail, but when Callas made demands, she was labelled ‘difficult’.
Director Tom Volf’s  film stands as a necessary corrective to decades of bad press. It’s an unalloyed tribute to Callas as a musical genius who gave all of herself to the public. And although opera aficionados will be first in line to see the film, the documentary doubles as an accessible primer for the less schooled, with an abundance of classic recordings, including full performances of “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s Norma and “Love Is a Rebellious Bird” from Bizet’s Carmen

Maria By Callas is a full-throated defence of a tarnished icon, a complex woman who never got what she deserved. Her life had an operatic quality that might seem fitting, but it wasn’t always fair.

– Scott Tobias, Variety

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