Opera deity captured in doc ‘Maria by Callas’

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and the Opera Company of Middlebury will co-present the electrifying documentary “Maria by Callas” on Monday, May 6 at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury.  This special screening will be a benefit event for the two non-profit organizations and will be part of the lead up to OCM’s much anticipated presentation of Massenet’s opera “Cendrillon” beginning May 31 at Town Hall Theater.
Conceived as a highly personal look at the life of Maria Callas, first time director Tom Volf has constructed a thoroughly engrossing film that reveals much about this globally revered opera diva.  As Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described the film and its star, “Closer to a deity than a singer to her devotees, Maria Callas was an extraordinary opera star who brought dramatic intensity and emotional intelligence to her roles, not to mention an off-stage life that included a much-publicized love affair with one of the world’s wealthiest men, fellow Greek Aristotle Onassis. Everything she did made newspaper headlines. But who was she, and what was it like to be in her presence?
“Director Volf initially planned to do a conventional documentary to answer these questions, and in fact spent a year interviewing some 30 friends of the great diva, who died in 1977 at age 53,” Turan continued. “Instead, Volf decided it would be more intimate and revealing to do a film on Callas almost entirely in her own words, using performance footage, TV interviews and home movies as well as letters and unpublished memoirs movingly read by contemporary opera luminary Joyce DiDonato.”
The result? In Turan’s view, it works as Volf planned.
“It expertly presents an emotional essence of this performer,” he said, “leaving you both shaken and stirred by the extent of her gifts and the way they connected to both audiences and her tumultuous life.”
“The Opera Company of Middlebury is looking forward to hosting this benefit screening of ‘Maria by Callas.’ It’s a great addition to the events during opera season here in Middlebury,” said Chip Malcolm, OCM Board Chair.  “And we appreciate having the opportunity to collaborate with the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival in making this happen.  It’s a film I am intending to see and I hope that all the opera lovers in town will do likewise.”
Doug Anderson, OCM’s Artistic Director, added “the Callas story is unbelievable — not only the artistic life but also but her complicated personal life.  Her triangle with Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy is the stuff of grand opera, so I can understand why people are really so excited to see this film.”
“We are thrilled to partner with the Opera Company of Middlebury in bringing Maria by Callas to the community,” noted Lloyd Komesar, MNFF Producer.  “The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival continues to look for singular ways to present striking work by first and second time filmmakers and tying in with the pleasure and passion of opera season is exactly this kind of opportunity.”
See what all the fuss is about and come watch “Maria by Callas” on Monday, May 6, at  7 p.m.  Tickets to this benefit screening are $25 and available at the Town Hall Theater Box Office, either in person (Mon.-Sat., 12-5 p.m.), by phone at (802) 382-9222 or online at townhalltheater.org/calendar-and-tickets.

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