One hundred years since the birth of Maria Callas: exhibitions, screenings, concerts, master classes and an international conference in Turin

Words Emanuela Zini

A true artist transcends his or her work, survives it and suddenly detaches from it, becoming in itself a masterpiece. Maria Callas is a voice behind the voice, she is the woman through whom Medea, Carmen, Violetta lived on a stage, touching the acme of their performance.
Of all the appellations that have been given to her, only one has remained: Divine. Yes, because divine is what it touches from the outside, a power that perturbs the soul, capable of upsetting certainties to bring them face to face with great and insurmountable doubt.

It starts on Dec. 6 with cartoonist and illustrator Vanna Vinci, who for Feltrinelli Comics has published the graphic novel Io sono Maria Callas: a biography in pictures in which the soprano is both a character from Greek tragedy and a superstar. On Dec. 7, on the other hand, Mario Riberi, professor of Medieval and Modern History of Law at the University of Turin, will investigate the relationship between law and opera.On Dec. 11, the Director of the Archivio Storico Ricordi, Pierluigi Ledda, will lead the audience in an exploration of the history of Cherubini’s Medea, a legendary record that sanctioned Casa Ricordi’s entry into the world of discography as Dischi Ricordi, the label that a few years later would give birth to the “singer-songwriter” phenomenon.

On Dec. 12, space will be given to the Biki Archive with Simona Segre-Reinach, professor of History of Fashion at the University of Bologna, who will reconstruct the special relationship between Maria Callas and Elvira Leonardi Bouyeure (1906-1999), aka Biki, known as the soprano’s “seamstress.”

Maria Callas

On Dec. 14, the author of the book Maria Callas (Carocci 2023), Alberto Bentoglio, will profile the soprano as singer-actress, in the relationships between her performance and the directors she worked with.
From December 8 to 11, in collaboration with the National Cinema Museum, the film festival “Maria Callas and Cinema” will be held. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Medea, Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words, Franco Zeffirelli’s Callas Forever and Philippe Kohly’s Callas assoluta will be screened at Cinema Massimo.
Also on Dec. 8, the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi theater will host the recital “100 + 1: Maria Callas andIrene Papas,” conceived and produced by Maria Mitsopoulou and directed by Nikaiti Kontouri, which relates the artistic journey of Maria Callas with that of Irene Papas, another icon of 20th-century Greek culture who passed away last year.

The exhibitions
On Dec. 17, four new exhibitions exploring the figure of Callas through different languages will open in the Rector’s Palace. Ten scenic enlargements will dress the Rectorate courtyard for the photography exhibition “Maria Callas Offstage. Portraits from the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archive.” Next will be the “UniVerso Gallery,” the Athenaeum’s new exhibition space that will host Marina Abramovic’s video installation “Seven Deaths.”
On the second floor, in the Athenaeum Hall, the exhibition in collaboration with the Archivio Storico Ricordi “Callas/Medea. Storia di un disco,” an exhibition that reconstructs the history of a legendary record, Medea, through precious original materials of the time for the first time on display. Finally, in the historic rooms of the Graf Library, 25 original plates created by cartoonist Vanna Vinci for her graphic novel Io sono Maria Callas will be on display.
From Monday, Dec. 18 to Wednesday, Dec. 20 – at the Teatro Regio, in the Aula Magna of the Cavallerizza Reale and then in the Rector’s Office – more than 60 Italian and foreign scholars will confront each other in the international conference ‘Maria Callas at 100: Opera, Celebrity, Myth’ to address in a transmedia and multidisciplinary perspective the figure of Maria Callas, an artist personality who marked the history of opera, but also more generally the imagination, becoming a true icon of the twentieth century.

On Sunday, December 17, at 5 p.m. in the Aula Magna of the Cavallerizza Reale, a round table dedicated to the great archives of organizations and institutions in which important documents are collected that tell the figure of Maria Callas from different perspectives will open the work of the conference. Speakers will include Pierluigi Ledda (Archivio Storico Ricordi), Simona Segre-Reinach (Archivio Biki), Barbara Costa (Archivio Publifoto), Caterina d’Amico (Fondazione Zeffirelli), Simone Solinas (Archivio Storico e editoriale Teatro Regio Torino).