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Maria Callas Museum inaugurated in Athens

The Marcia Callas Museum was inaugurated in Athens on Wednesday, just a few weeks before the 100th birthday of the great Greek soprano.

The idea of the museum was conceived 24 years ago. The collection was brought together through through auction purchases, donations from private collections and negotiations for display rights with recording companies.

Below a report by AP whose correspondent in Athens attended the inauguration:

Finishing her class at The Julliard School of the arts in New York, Greek opera great Maria Callas gave her students a final word of advice.

“Keep on going the proper way: Not with fireworks, not with easy applause, but with the expression of the words, the diction, and to really feel what you feel. That’s what I want. I’m not good at words, so that’s that.”

The March 1972 speech was a detail little known to her admiring public, along with letters, jewellery and countless honors that include a postage stamp series from Kyrgyzstan and Congo.

 

Now they are on display. The City of Athens inaugurated the Maria Callas Museum in the center of the Greek capital Wednesday, marking a century since the birth to Greek parents of the legendary soprano in New York.

The museum, next to the city’s cathedral and with a view of the Acropolis, opens to the public Thursday, with sections of the museum connected by a red carpet.

The top floors offer a recreated room of her Paris apartment, an imaginary forest and a sound studio, along with recordings of her famed live performances and clips of her lessons at The Julliard School.

Other display areas have exhibits of her costumes, hand-written letters and a sketch of a Callas-inspired Manolo Blahnik design.

Two women look the dresses of Greek Soprano Maria Callas at the newly established Museum, the first dedicated to the legendary opera star, in Athens, Greece, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. The new museum presents, priceless historical artifacts, including photographs and portraits, rare live recordings, and a unique collection of records and personal items as this year is the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas' birth. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

“I think we are primarily addressing a person who is the ordinary visitor who might not know much about opera. They might know much about Maria Callas,” museum supervisor Erato Koutsoudaki told The Associated Press.

“So we invite them to start with the spaces where you can listen and watch her perform iconic arias from the great operas. So you can just live it. Then you can learn more about who this woman was and why she was important, on the lowers floors that are more like a conventional museum.”

Born Maria Kalogeropoulos, the singer made her professional debut in Athens as an 18-year-old student and died in Paris aged 53 after a career that some still consider to be unrivalled in opera.

Callas would have turned 100 on Dec. 2, and her life has been honored with a year of artistic events in Greece.

Angelina Jolie starring in the upcoming movie “Maria” concluding some filming in Greece last week.

The Maria Callas Museum is located at Mitropoleos Street 44, near Syntagma Square in downtown Athens.

Museum website in Greek, English and French here.

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