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Saturday, November 25, 2017

An Interview with Maria

I met Maria at the backstage of Norma opera after the performance at Milan Opera House. She looked radiant and beautiful in her diva costume, with her broad smile shining on her face. She seemed satisfied with her performance that night, and judging from the applause and the flowers she got, the public loved her.


Interviewer:

Congratulations Maria on your beautiful performance, the public seem to love you very much. Are you satisfied with your performance tonight?




Maria:

I am happy that the public love it, it is such a great relief to hear the public reception, after the hard work to prepare for this performance. It really lifts our spirits to know that the hard work has been liked.

However, after every performance I would think what could have been done better, to make it better in the next performance and how things can be done differently. I am never satisfied with my performance and will try to improve it next time.

                              
Interviewer:

You are known as perfectionist, it seems what you just said just now confirms people’s believe.


Maria:

To me, the art of music is magnificent, and I cannot bear to see it treated in a shabby way. When it is respected and when the artists who serve it are respected, I will work hard and always give my best . . .
I do not want to be associated with inferior staging, taste, conducting or singing.


Interviewer:

But the people working with you think of you as too difficult to work with.  
They said you are temperamental, too demanding, sometimes you refused to perform, and even cancelled performances.


Maria:

I will always be as difficult as necessary to achieve the best. I am a hard worker, willing to rehearse more than expected, even when a role or a production was not new. I am an artist and like to try to bring the best performance to the public so I like to rehearse more and more with the team within the limited time we have.




Interviewer:

But, you walked away from contracts with Metropolitan Opera for Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Beethoven’s Fidelio.


Maria:

Have you never walk away from a job that don’t suit you? I think you have.
For me, it was impossible to sing as Madame Butterfly, a 15 years old Japanese girl, I was then too fat--210 pounds.
As for "Fidelio" Opera in English is so silly. Nobody takes it seriously.
More than that, I didn’t like the contract, it looked like a beginner’s contract.


Interviewer:

You mentioned you were then too fat. How did you become so slim and beautiful today? What is the secret to lose weight in short pace of time?


Maria:

Purely strong will, there were rumours that I ate certain kind of pasta, but it wasn’t so. It was driven purely by strong will.


Interviewer:

You indeed seem to be a person driven by a very strong will. One of your teacher, Maria Trivella said of you: “A model student. Fanatical, uncompromising, dedicated to her studies heart and soul. Her progress was phenomenal. She studied five or six hours a day. ...Within six months, she was singing the most difficult arias in the international opera repertoire with the utmost musicality.”


Interviewer:

The Norma that you just performed was also a woman with strong will, brave, and even vengeful to betrayal.


Maria, her eyes sparkled and started singing part of the famous aria Casta Diva of Norma:

Casta Diva, che inargenti               Virtuous Goddess, covering with silver
queste sacre antiche piante,         these sacred ancient plants,
a noi volgi il bel sembiante            turn towards us your fair face
senza nube e senza vel                 cloudless and unveiled




Interviewer:

Other than Norma, you also seem to like to perform Carmen, Medea, Tosca and Violeta in La traviata. However you like to portray them as strong, passionate woman whom stand-up to their tragic fate, rather than a crushed delicate woman.
The way you expressed it, the women become the tragedy heroines of the story.


Maria:

It is a matter of interpretation, indeed normally Floria Tosca is portrayed as a delicate, submissive woman that was completely dominated by the powerful male character.  But I see that she can be performed as a strong, fiery woman and assertive.  In the famous “Vissi d’Arte” aria of the opera, she was lamenting, questioning her fate as well as becoming assertive, she sings from “I lived for art, I lived for love”, then  “I never did harm to a living soul!”


Interviewer:

One of the reporter wrote about your performance as Tosca :”her conception of the role was electrical. Everything at her command was put into striking use. She was a woman in love, a tiger cat, a woman possessed by jealousy. . . . This was supreme acting, unforgettable acting."
Bravo Maria!


Maria:

Thank you for the compliment. As Floria Tosca said it: "Vissi d' arte, vissi d' amore" ("I lived on art, I lived on love").


Interviewer:

In Medea, your enormous acting skills and perhaps your Greek blood guided you in the interpretation of agony of this princess from Colchis, a performance which was historic for Greece, in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus.
Is it probably that you can relate this Greek tragedy with your personal experience, that you can perform Medea that intense?


Maria:

I am a person without identity. I was born of Greek parents, yet I have never felt absolutely Greek. I was born in America, yet I am not an American. I lived the most crucial period of my career in Italy, I married an Italian but, of course, I am not an Italian. I now live permanently in Paris, but this doesn't mean I feel French. What the hell am I, after all?" What am I? I am alone, always alone.


Interviewer:

Were you surprised about Onassis marrying Jackie?

Maria:

As the public have known, there is no doubt that Onassis and me are deeply in love. Somehow we did not get married, but we remained good friends.


Interviewer:

Does Onassis still love you?


Maria:

You have to ask him yourself,  but maybe he does not really love opera.........



This is an imaginary interview in memory of Maria Callas.