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Monica Bellucci made a movie about Maria Callas: Letters and Memoirs

A match made in heaven: Monica Bellucci, who is impossibly glamorous, is playing Maria Callas, who is impossibly glamorous. This is a case of one star paying tribute to another. 

It looks like Bellucci is right at home in an elegant black dress and with her hair pulled back in the same way that Callas did. She reads from the opera singer’s posthumously published book of letters and unfinished memoirs, and this one-off, one-woman show is filled with emotion. Perhaps this is because of the power of Callas’s voice and her melodramatic life. 

Besides, Bellucci’s delivery is a little off. She speaks with a wispy breathlessness, more Marilyn Monroe than Callas, and her voice doesn’t always carry across the auditorium, which is a shame because Callas has such a wide range. 

During the show, she is on a cream sofa with glowing projections of Callas’ writing on the back screen and rose petals all over her feet. To make it more romantic, all that is missing is a man in a white tie and a rose between his teeth. 

When Bellucci stops talking, a gramophone next to the sofa plays music. It’s heartwarming to hear Callas’s beautiful voice in pieces from Madame Butterfly, La Traviata and Medea. This gramophone, which is sometimes lit up, almost takes on the role of the production’s louder, more expressive second character. 

It is confusing that the names of the musical pieces are not given, and there are other problems with the way the show is put together. It shows names and dates on the back screen under Tom Volf’s direction (although from my seat in the stalls I could not see the full screen). Leonidas Lantzounis is the godfather of the girl she was born to. Grace Kelly and many other singers and musicians have also been friends with her. We get only their names, no matter how little-known they are. Both of us don’t know what some letters are all about. She writes to Pier Paolo Pasolini about something that happened that we don’t know how to explain. Soprano Elvira de Hidalgo agrees to let her wear her jewelry on stage. We don’t know if she wants to honor De Hidalgo or symbolically take her crown, but she wants to do both. 

In this case, there isn’t a lot of background information to help us connect the dots in a story and tell the real story from the myths we make up about ourselves. It’s hard to tell if the show is for opera fans because there aren’t any basic signs to point them in the right direction (given its briefness). An hour-long documentary about Maria Callas’s complicated life only talks about the most important parts of it. It only talks about her difficult mother, her failed marriage, and her voice issues. 

That’s not the only thing we do. We build up a picture of her highs and lows. There is a wide-eyed wonder at how her voice makes people feel. When she was in a nine-year relationship with Aristotle Onassis, she wrote to him with a lot of passion. He broke it off and married Jackie Kennedy without telling her. 

A woman who has lived a good life but is disappointed at the end says that we can only trust ourselves. Despite all the letters she wrote to her friends, she always felt lonely. 

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