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The opera-performance conceived, directed and performed by Marina Abramović finally made its debut. The artist dedicated her piece to soprano Maria Callas and the opera heroines she sang during her career. 

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Maria Callas is widely known to be one of the most influential opera singers of all time. Marina Abramović was 14-years-old when she first heard the devastatingly beautiful voice of Maria Callas, which strongly impressed herand immediately becameher idol. The idea of 7 Deaths began to mature in Marina Abramović at the end of the 1970s and almost found a prospect of realization at the end of 2014. It was initially meant to be a great performance and film project inspired by the soprano Maria Callas and seven heroines of the opera who died tragically and for love. The heroines are the women incarnated by Callas, whose deaths are reinterpreted by the Serbian artist in her opera-performance. As Marina Abramović explains, “In this performance we adopted a very conceptual approach to the opera (…) We have minimized the usual elements of the opera and connected the elements of video and performance, narration and music with conceptual simplicity"

 

 

Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at Bayerische Staatsoper. Photo © Wilfried Hösl. Courtesy of Bayerische Staatsoper.

 

Seven singers perform seven different arias sung by Maria Callas throughout her career, while Abramović comments on numerous aspects of the opera from her perspective. At the same time, a video shows the performer interpreting the death of the opera's heroine. On stage Abramović is not alone: at her side is actor Willem Dafoe, while the music was composed by Marko Nikodijević. "This project is very close to my heart," said the Serbian performer. "It is about dying of heartbreak, dying for love. I hope that the audience can find a part of themselves in these timeless subjects". 

According to Abramović's initial project, each death was to be directed by a different director, including Roman Polanski, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Marco Brambilla, Giada Colagrande and Yorgos Lanthimos. The original idea was thus meant to create a feature film composed of seven different episodes. Due to initial problems, the Serbian performer’s project could not be realized in 2015 and consequently turned into the project that made its debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper. 7 Deaths, in fact, was supposed to be staged in Munich last April, and then presented in June in Italy during the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival. However, the pandemic delayed the Munich event by five months.

 

Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at Bayerische Staatsoper. Photo © Wilfried Hösl. Courtesy of Bayerische Staatsoper.

 

Cover image: Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas at Bayerische Staatsoper. Photo © Wilfried Hösl. Courtesy of Bayerische Staatsoper.

Written by Maria Eleonora Piva

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