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Maria by Callas (2017)

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An intimate look at the life and work of Greek-American opera singer Maria Callas, as told in her own words.


Tom Volf
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Fanny Ardant ... (voice)
Joyce DiDonato ... María Callas / Narration (voice)
Maria Callas ... Herself (archive footage)
Aristotle Onassis ... Himself (archive footage)
Vittorio De Sica ... Himself (archive footage)
Pier Paolo Pasolini ... Himself (archive footage)
Luchino Visconti ... Himself (archive footage)
Omar Sharif ... Himself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Antonio ... Himself (archive footage)
Brigitte Bardot ... Herself (archive footage)
Jean Cocteau ... Himself (archive footage)
Elvira de Hidalgo Elvira de Hidalgo ... Herself (archive footage)
Catherine Deneuve ... Herself (archive footage)
Duchess of Windsor ... Herself (archive footage)
Duke of Windsor ... Himself (archive footage)


An intimate look at the life and work of Greek-American opera singer Maria Callas, as told in her own words.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some smoking and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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English | French | Italian

Release Date:

2 November 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words See more »

Filming Locations:

Palm Beach, Florida, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$91,915, 4 November 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


The film screened at TIFF in Toronto in September 2018. See more »


References Medea (1969) See more »


La mamma morta
From the Opera "Andrea Chénier"
Composed by Umberto Giordano
Performed by Maria Callas, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala (as Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano) and Tullio Serafin
See more »

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User Reviews

For post-career Callas devotees only
16 June 2019 | by RES55See all my reviews

Callas was, almost without question, the greatest singing *musician* of the 20th century, not a "singer" or "singing actress" (a term that damns with faint praise), but a transcendent artist. This film doesn't deal with that Callas. It focuses exclusively on the details of personal mismanagement that she would never have wanted aired, being, by nature, a very private person. It includes some new footage, but it's all presented chaotically, mismatching music to visuals, jumping back and forth in time by years; it's exhausting.

Well-known extant concert footage, all from after the zenith of her great career, is colorized needlessly. It is a moving elegy but manipulative of the viewer's emotions; it tugs at our heart strings in a way Callas would have found embarrassing and irritating. In life, Callas was tough--as musicians have to be, and all that interested her were the nuts-and-bolts details of the music itself. In the unmentioned, important Juilliard master classes that she taught in 1971, there is a famous moment that is emblematic of the real Callas: a mezzo-soprano makes a histrionic gesture with her voice in Azucena's Act II aria from Verdi's IL TROVATORE. Callas stops her and asks "What was that?" The student replies "It was a cry of despair." Callas responds "It's not a cry of despair. It's a B-flat."

To the film's credit, there are a few full musical selections (even if colorized jarringly), though it has its share of annoyingly tantalizing snippets. To its detriment, nothing, but nothing, is identified properly and the chronological roller-coaster ride that is 'Maria by Callas' will leave at sea anyone without an encyclopedic knowledge of the woman's unfortunate post-career private life. The director also shows his amazing naivete by using only Callas' version of events; she was quite self-serving and the facts of various matters are often very different from the way she wanted to present them.

Why do film makers only seem to concentrate on Callas "the woman," "the star," "the diva," "the tragic figure," rather than the super-serious, perfectionist artist who set the world of music on fire beginning in 1949 and altered forever the way we listen? It's apparently because they have no idea how to talk about music nor have any interest in what Callas was really about.

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