As part of the 2023/2024 season at the London Coliseum, the English National Opera (ENO) will present the acclaimed production of 7 Deaths of Maria Callas. In this highly anticipated UK premiere, renowned performance artist Marina Abramović, whose first major solo exhibition is currently on at the Royal Academy of Arts, makes her ENO debut with this production that explores the life, work and death of one of opera’s greatest stars.
Callas has fascinated Abramović for decades, who has conceived this operatic project as a homage and exploration of the great prima donna. This staging marks 100 years since the world renowned American-born Greek soprano was born.
Abramović first heard Maria Callas when she was 14 years old in Yugoslavia. Since Callas’s voice caught her attention at a young age, Abramović has been drawn to their similarities; from their shared physical features to their personal attributes and relationships.
Immortalised through her place in popular culture, Callas (sometimes referred to as ‘La Divina’ – the divine one) is invoked on stage through a series of her most famous arias from La Traviata, Tosca, Madam Butterfly, Carmen, Otello, Lucia di Lammermoor and Norma, with new music by Serbian Composer Marko Nikodijević.
Accompanying each of these aria performances is a series of short films starring Abramović and actor Willem Dafoe. Present on stage throughout the performance, Abramović plays the sleeping Callas, haunted by her greatest roles in a set that recreates the Paris apartment where Callas died.
Marina Abramović says: “One of the ways that Maria Callas has inspired me is through her mix between strength and fragility that you can see in both her work and life. That mix became the common ground between her and I and provided me with the foundation to produce this work.
“I am very honoured that I can perform the 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at the English National Opera in London which has such a long and rich history of incredible theatre. I always refer to her comment when she said: ‘When I perform I make sure that one part of my brain is in complete control and the other part is loose and free’.”
7 Deaths of Maria Callas opens on Friday November 3 for five performances: Nov 3, 9, 11 at 19.30. Nov 5, 11 at 15.00.
Tickets available to purchase from www.eno.org