‘Maria’ a sen­su­ous por­trait of opera su­per­star

The Kansas City Star - - Fyi Movies - BY ANN HORNADAY The Wash­ing­ton Post

For any­one go­ing through with­drawal after see­ing “Bohemian Rhap­sody,” may I present for your con­sid­er­a­tion “Maria by Cal­las”?

In this im­mer­sive, of­ten de­li­ciously sen­su­ous doc­u­men­tary por­trait of the late opera star Maria Cal­las, view­ers are treated to an­other rise-and-fall story of a great but tor­tured artist, this one punc­tu­ated by the oc­ca­sional real-life bed of roses and plea­sure cruise.

Long be­fore Lu­ciano Pavarotti and Plá­cido Domingo, Cal­las was that rare opera singer who was also a house­hold name, as fa­mous for her strik­ing beauty and ef­fort­less glam­our as for her tonal range and lyri­cal in­ter­pre­tive skills.

To ob­serve the New York-born Cal­las ar­riv­ing in Rome or Mi­lan or Paris or New York, in a cloud of furs, flow­ers, poo­dles and pearls, is to un­der­stand the fun­da­men­tals of diva style, imi­tated but never equaled by such suc­ces­sors as Madonna, Ri­hanna and Lady Gaga.

Cal­las’ com­mand of her own per­sona is on re­gal, ex­trav­a­gant dis­play in Tom Volf’s film, in which the di­rec­tor uses the sub­ject’s own words — from let­ters, di­ary en­tries, tele­vi­sion in­ter­views and her mem­oirs — to nar­rate a suc­ces­sion of rav­ish­ing, rarely seen im­ages, in­clud­ing some of her most fa­mous (and no­to­ri­ous) per­for­mances, and can­did footage of cos­tume fit­tings and home movies.

What emerges is a por­trait of a woman of ex­tra­or­di­nary nat­u­ral gifts and work ethic, who was pres­sured to be­come a su­per­star by her mother and then her hus­band. “Destiny is destiny,” she says re­signedly at one point. “There’s no way out.”

Cal­las fi­nally finds true love when she meets Aris­to­tle Onas­sis, with whom she car­ried on a leg­endary love af­fair un­til he met Jacque­line Kennedy. That tri­an­gle forms some of the most com­pelling ma­te­rial in “Maria by Cal­las,” which is at its best when it sim­ply watches her sing.

(At the Glen­wood Arts, Tivoli.)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.