Maria by Callas (2017) Movie Script

On the whole, there are two people in me.
I would like to be Maria,
but there is the Callas
that I have to live up to.
So I'm coping with both as much as I can.
And in a crunch,
who has to win, Maria or Callas?
I like to think that
they both go together,
because Callas has been Maria.
In my singing and in my work,
my own self has been there every second.
I've done nothing falsely.
I've worked with all honesty.
So Maria has... if somebody really tries
to listen to me seriously,
one will find all of myself in there.
"Madam Callas," one music critic notes,
"has restored the ancient luster
to the title of prima donna."
Leonard Bernstein
calls her "pure electricity."
Good evening, Madam Callas.
-Good evening, Mr. Murrow.
-And welcome home.
-Thank you very much.
-I know that many people
are under the impression
that you're Italian,
and are not aware that actually
you grew up in New York.
-Isn't that right?
Not only was I born in New York...
not in Brooklyn, as they say...
not that there's anything wrong
with Brooklyn, of course,
but just for the sake of truth...
but I was brought up in America,
in New York,
and I'm rather proud of that, too.
Madam Callas, what do you remember most
about your school days?
Well, very happy days,
I must say, carefree days.
I remember we had a principal
who was very severe,
and he kept on saying,
"Now, children, self-control.
Remember that all your life."
I am, but...
Though it's hard sometimes to remember it.
And aIso, I always used to sing
each year for the graduation.
You know, I was the little
singer of the school.
I sang operettas, and l sang...
well, Chinese princes and the sailors
and certain things like that,
as much as I remember.
I've never been able to pronounce
the last name.
-Would you do it for me?
-In Greek?
In Greek.
-Here, you ready?
Kalogeropoulou. Well, it's rather long.
And that's why your father
changed it to Callas?
Yes, I'm afraid so.
It was already done by the time
I understood any difference.
My mother was rather ambitious,
and my father wanted me
to have a musical education.
I started on piano at eight years old.
These were the times of Deanna Durbin
and Shirley Temple,
and of course my mother was dreaming...
Dreaming of what? Glory of course.
She decided that
I should become a great singer.
And I probably did have some talent,
otherwise she would not have carried on.
And I couldn't fight it
because in those days,
one did as the parents decided.
What could I have done? Protest?
A girl like me against
a temperament like my mother's?
It's cruelty, I think.
In fact, please forgive me,
but I must say
there must be a law against it.
Children should not be given
this responsibility.
They don't last long.
Children should have
a wonderful childhood.
I had not had it. I wish I could have.
We left for Greece in 1 937,
so I had just gone into high school.
So, I went to Greece,
and I couldn't continue school there,
because my mother decided
on my singing career.
You enjoyed your childhood?
You enjoyed being young, did you?
Yes, the little I did have of it,
I really did enjoy it.
And then you went to Greece,
and you were caught in Greece
-for the duration...
-The war.
-...duration of the war.
What are your memories of that?
That was hard.
I confess that that was a bit hard,
but it doesn't hurt anybody.
You know, hardship does one good.
And as soon as I went to Greece,
I was put into the conservatoire,
but I had an age problem.
My age problem was
that I was only 1 3 years old,
and I couldn't enter the conservatory
unless l was at least 1 7.
But I was a tall girl,
and I could justify
very well saying a lie.
It was the first lie in my life.
My mother didn't allow me
to stay in front of the mirror
for more than five minutes.
I had to study.
I couldn't waste time with such nonsense.
And certainly, t owe it to her strictness
if today I have vast
and extensive artistic experience.
I was finally accepted
at the Conservatoire of Athens,
where I was entrusted
to the wonderful teacher
Elvira de Hidalgo.
To this illustrious Spanish artist,
I say, with a moved,
devoted and grateful heart:
I owe all my stage and musical training.
This elect creature, who besides giving me
her precious teachings,
gave me her whole heart,
and was a witness
to all my life in Athens.
With her, more than anyone,
I felt like family.
She had this look in her eyes.
And a way of interpreting the...
the arias.
She didn't know much Italian
but was singing in Italian.
That really struck me.
She watched me the whole time.
With that large mouth of hers
and her expressive eyes.
That impressed me.
I thought, "She is someone!"
What was she like as a student?
Obedient, intelligent,
a really hard worker...
Such a hard worker. That was incredible.
I never had to tell her...
anything twice.
She'd say, "Yes, capito."
The next day...
And everything was like that.
She was very musical and a musician,
she knew a lot about music.
She played the piano really well.
And she always arrived first
and was the last to leave.
That was astonishing.
How could she keep it up like that
for five hours?
She'd listen to all the other students.
The coloraturas, the tenors, all of them.
That's why she got this...
this idea to sing,
and especially the high notes.
She'd say:
"Will I be able to do the pichetatti?"
I'd reply: "If you carry on like that,
yes, you'll be able to do anything.
But only if you keep on working like now."
I would have preferred...
to have a happy family and have children.
I think that is
the main vocation of a woman.
But destiny brought me into this career.
I couldn't get out, and...
I was forced into it quite frequently,
first by my mother, then by my husband.
I would have given it up with pleasure,
but destiny is destiny,
and there is no way out.
Madam Callas, what is your impression
on the eve of this gala,
which is your Paris debut?
I promised I would come to Paris.
So t ask you to wish... for your sake too,
for me to sing like never before.
That's all I want now.
You have a reputation
for being a good actress.
Do you consider it necessary
and essential to be an actress?
Oh, yes. l should say.
I don't think
you would even want an artist,
a real artist that cannot act.
I'm quite sure you don't.
You just don't bother
to go to the opera anymore.
And opera can be a very silly thing,
but it can be the most
gorgeous thing in the world.
You also have a reputation
as one of the most tempestuous
opera stars in the world.
Well, I don't know what
you mean by "tempestuous."
There's been lots of talk about it, too,
and I haven't quite understood
what it means.
The saddest evening of my career
started out as a very promising one.
I could never have predicted
the wave of violence
and cruelty
that would be unleashed upon me
after that performance
so painfully aborted
on January the 2nd.
The papers, not only in Rome and Italy
but all over Europe and America,
with few exceptions that
moved me for being so rare,
set aside all international
political events
and reserved their front pages,
their headlines
and their chronicles to my poor name.
It was the ideal time
to drag it through the mud
and make me pay dearly for my successes.
Yet everything had begun so well,
superbly well, even.
The rehearsals had gone
to everybody's satisfaction,
but when I returned to my dressing room,
a freezing room in a theater
that had been closed
and unused for several months,
a cold wind was blowing
through the cracks.
I felt a sudden chill
and the beginnings of a rasp in my throat.
I woke up in the middle of the night
and realized that
not a sound could come
out of my mouth, not one word.
I was completely mute.
But that evening was sold out.
People were expecting to see La Callas.
I was suddenly swamped with fear.
I have been called the Tigress.
And on that evening, the Tigress entered
the splendid yet terrifying theater.
In my dressing room, I was getting ready,
with my voice hanging by a thread.
The numerous remedies
had temporarily soothed my throat,
but that was not enough.
I had bronchitis, which, of course,
could not be cured in such short time.
Once the effect
of the treatments wore off,
my voice just disappeared.
Due to major unforeseen circumstances,
the rest of the performance is canceled.
Yes, the head of state
was there that evening,
but there was another figure
in the theater worthy of utmost respect,
someone whose name
had even been printed on the posters:
Vincenzo Bellini.
I could not, for the sake of protocol,
offend this great musician
by moaning rather than singing
the other acts of his Norma.
So on that evening of January 2
at the Rome Opera,
the first act of Norma was performed,
perhaps not perfectly, but well enough.
The other acts were not insulted.
The following day,
I realized my lynching had begun
with unprecedented violence.
Yet, I didn't outrage the public
or the institutions,
I didn't disgrace the president,
I didn't endanger the life
of Italian lyric theater.
I simply had bronchitis.
Then I recalled the words
from La Traviata,
the words of my Violetta,
which Verdi had cloaked
in a bitter melody:
"Hence to the miserable soul
who one day has fallen,
any hope of resurrection
is forever stolen."
Mrs. Callas, welcome to Chicago.
How do you feel?
Thank you. Fine, thank you.
Why won't you talk to the press,
Mrs. Callas?
Why won't you talk to us?
You have a bad press
because you won't talk to newsmen.
-Will you discuss the Rome incident?
-I didn't discuss the Rome incident.
It's closed for me.
Please, gentlemen, I'm here for Chicago.
Thank you.
Maria! Look over here, please.
-Can we get in closer?
Madam Callas, in the last few years,
particularly since you've
been associated with the Met,
you've received a tremendous amount
of adverse publicity.
How do you account for that?
I have been brought
to exasperating situations,
as you fully realize,
and yet I have borne them with...
calmness and with patience.
Time does heal lots of things,
and I'm quite sure time
will prove what I am, actually.
There came the point
where I had to decide,
now, is Madam Callas running the Met,
or am I running the Met?
At that time, l was still running the Met
and said so and canceled our agreement.
So you really did fire Maria Callas
from the Metropolitan?
If you want to use that ugly word,
that is so, yes.
I don't think Maria Callas is fired.
Maria Callas is severed
from our relationship.
Why in Dallas and not here?
That's something I'd like to tell him.
Why doesn't he do
these performances at the Met?
And I would be there with pleasure.
Did he have to go and say,
"She's an impossible person!" Why?
I'm quite sure he's met so many
other impossible people.
He just completely got even with me
for all the things
that he could not get even with
other people.
That is what I call bad destiny.
I was unlucky.
Because my other colleagues
have really hurt him much more.
That's why he respects me, and he really,
sincerely, I'm sure, loves me.
But he's a weak man.
I suppose I pay the consequences
of so many other,
you know, like a glass that fills up,
and then I was the thing
that filled his glass up.
Of course I was appalled.
I just refused next year's contract,
because he offered me
the old repertoire...
that is, the old Norma staging.
-Which you all saw.
-Which she's done time and time again.
Norma, Barbiere, Barber of Seville,
Traviata, Lucia,
and I said, "No, I'm sorry,
I cannot do routine."
I want new performances, staged well.
You know, like here, like a little young
Dallas is doing. My God.
Yes, l suppose that made him angry.
I don't know.
I mean, I can't explain it otherwise.
And then yesterday,
I received a telegram saying,
"Either you answer me"--
yesterday at around 3:30, I think,
just before I left
for the theater, and he said,
"Either you answer me tomorrow
or breach of agreement
and contract terminated."
I don't know what got into the man.
I cannot do those... excuse me,
lousy performances,
and I cannot change artists
every performance, now you can know it.
Each performance we have,
if we do ten Macbeths,
ten different tenors, ten baritones...
So I'm sorry, I can't do that.
That's not art.
Well, I mean, let's get it out
now while we're at it.
Do you know that last year
I did Traviata never seeing the set?
Never seeing the set,
never seeing my colleagues.
Do you think that's right?
Is that seriously good theater?
Now, I kept these things quiet.
All my friends knew about it.
Our job is very serious,
and it helps too,
but all experiences help on the whole.
But of course I'm human like everyone,
and I like to be entertained
with nice shows,
things that are not too serious,
not dramatic all the time,
and all those tragedies,
that we get so fed up with...
When you're not busy
recording or appearing in opera...
I know what you're going to ask:
What do I do?
-There you are.
-Yes. Hobbies?
-Nothing. Nothing.
-I just live a human life.
-Well, well, good for you.
-Good for you.
-I have lots of fresh air.
When it rains, t go out, and I don't care
if I get wet, you know,
just to relax the nerves.
-I do some cooking. I love to cook.
-Do you?
Now, for instance, my husband bought
a little house on the lake,
and he's buying a little motorboat.
-In Italy?
-In Italy.
And so I'm dying to learn
how to drive the little thing
and just go and enjoy myself.
And, well, I must say, I have
a very ridiculous and embarrassing hobby.
My husband always pulls my leg for it.
But it's something, you know,
a mania, shall we call it.
I love recipes.
I know I'll never use them.
But wherever I find a recipe,
on a newspaper, on a magazine,
I just tear it out
and I stick it in a book,
you know, t paste it on.
It's the only hobby, really, that I have.
Isn't it ridiculous?
-I know it is, but there you are.
-I'm going to cut out something
I saw the other day
and send it to you, because...
-every once in a while, I...
-Oh, thank you. I'd love it.
...for no reason,
because I don't cook if I can avoid it.
Then there is another hobby
that I would like to pick up.
-It is the carillon.
-Oh, really?
Although there is one trouble,
that I have too good an ear,
so when I hear them, you know,
doing something I don't like, I get angry.
-But I do love carillons.
-But I don't know how they...
I'm afraid I'm
very old-fashioned even in that.
Well, old-fashioned or no,
have you ever considered
doing musical comedies, Madam Callas?
Well, I've been offered musical comedy.
I make a confession.
I think that's going
a little too far, though.
Can you imagine me, the tragic dame,
singing musical comedy?
Though I admit,
I would enjoy myself sometimes.
Oh, bother the dog.
He's my little one,
my little monster of the house.
-What's his name?
Well, what name could you give
a little thing like that?
So, that's why I...
You are so sweet!
My darling...
My joy.
I think it is more difficult for a woman
to run a fabulously
wonderful family than a career.
-But to do both is very...?
-I have made a career.
It doesn't work together.
I doubt whether...
being a good mother at home can make you
also a wonderful career woman.
Not my job.
-It doesn't work.
-Really? What would you...
It's a full-time job, my career.
I was dying to ask a question,
and I was trying to think of
how to ask it.
The gentleman, Aristotle Onassis, is a...
a mutual friend, he's a good friend,
and I think he's a delightful man,
and I wondered what you thought
were his greatest qualities.
Oh, you can ask.
We're the finest of friends.
I've always said that, and I'm quite sure
that he considers me his best friend,
and that's a lot in life.
He's charming,
very sincere...
So, these are qualities
that are very good.
Absolutely. When did you first meet?
A long time ago or...?
1 957, I think, in Venice.
And we were on the beach, and we met,
and we became fine friends,
and we've stayed, and we will be...
all our lives, we hope.
It was destiny that gave birth
to my friendship with Aristo.
I joined the cruise on the Christina
to please my husband,
who was very keen to go.
Battista only cared for money
and position.
What can you do
when you no longer trust your husband?
I thought of Meneghini
as a sheltering screen at first
to protect me from the outside world,
and he did that,
until my fame went to his head.
Battista should have used more diplomacy
in his negotiations with the theaters.
His methods backfired,
and I had to pay the consequences.
That was the beginning
of the end of our marriage.
It was not Onassis or the money.
From the very beginning of the cruise,
I realized that Aristo was
the kind of friend I had been looking for.
I was very impressed by his charm,
his strong personality,
and the charismatic way
he held everyone's attention.
He was not only full of life,
he was a source of life.
One night, after a long
and irritating argument with my husband,
I went out on deck for some air
and some solitude.
There was Aristo,
contemplating the dark sea.
I'm sure our friendship began there.
I had found something I deeply needed
and had never encountered before.
He made me feel liberated
and very feminine.
I came to love him deeply.
Dear Walter and Judy,
I've had a wonderful time on the cruise,
and we were back
one week later than planned.
I'm afraid I'm going to give you
some bad and shocking news.
I'm separating from Battista.
I hope, dear friends,
that this won't murder me.
I've been through quite a bit,
and there's a lot of disillusionment.
Don't be alarmed by newspapers
if and when they come out.
Dear friends, pray for your poor Maria.
Can you talk for a minute, please, for us?
-Oh, I'm sorry.
-Can you tell us why you left Dallas?
-I'm sorry. l can't talk.
-When are you gonna be going to Italy?
I'm leaving this afternoon on the jet.
How do you feel about the court litigation
that's coming up?
I'm giving no interviews.
Do you mind, gentlemen?
Mrs. Callas, did you have
any disagreement in Dallas?
-Did that have anything to do with it?
-I'm giving no interview.
-Did you have any trouble in Dallas?
-None at all.
I'm giving no interview at all.
-Why did you cut short your trip?
-Don't push me, please.
-Are you going to marry Mr. Onassis?
-I said don't...
I'm not answering any interview.
Now, stop it.
Mrs. Callas,
does all this attention disturb you?
Why not? When you're nice, l smile.
-We try to always be nice.
-We try to be nice.
-When you push me around, l don't like it.
-Well, we don't mean to push you around.
I wish you'd stand still
so I wouldn't have to.
But I have to walk, you know.
Mrs. Callas, do you hope this trip
in Italy will end this romantic squabble?
This is no romantic squabble.
It's a separation. That's what it is.
Have you talked to Mr. Onassis?
I talk to all my friends.
Can you tell us when the last time
you spoke to him was?
Do you expect to see Mr. Onassis
when you go to Europe?
I hope l see all my friends,
and I hope I see Mr. Onassis. Why not?
-Do you deny the...
-Watch out!
I am answering no more questions.
That's all, gentlemen.
CIVIL COUR It would be so nice
to be able to come home
and have a nice,
honest shoulder to lean on.
I had hoped that of my husband.
I was so wrong.
Glory went to his head.
Glory goes to people's heads. Not my head.
Glory terrifies me, because you're
quite uncomfortable up there.
But other people around you...
they get drunk.
It's a wine that goes to the head.
He was a good person, I thought.
And with my mother, I was not well off,
and I was alone,
and I felt that this person
really loved me,
but I'm afraid that he loved
what I represented.
He wanted so much that I be La Divina.
For instance, he was taking
things out on people,
as he was nothing special.
You mentioned you were persecuted.
What period of your life were you
referring to? At the end of your--?
When l separated from my husband,
that was very hard,
and about two years before.
I don't know why it was
sort of a style to attack...
to attack me.
And I'm the kind of type
that cannot defend myself,
because I find it useless.
First of all, the newspapermen
have the last word,
so it's no use you fight.
And then I don't like to defend myself.
I feel that time takes care of things.
In what way were you perse...
You were blamed for things
-that weren't your--?
-I was blamed for things.
I was misunderstood.
They took me for fiery, tempestuous,
canceling performances and this and that,
and there was no end to that.
I have canceled performances,
but very few in comparison
to other singers.
I was very famous, I suppose.
It's a compliment, again,
but when I was not well,
I could not do performances, so...
I was blamed that, you know...
And so these things, you know, hurt,
and at a certain moment
you have to rest to...
re-dimension things and to...
You say you plan to get divorced
when this new law comes in Italy?
Yes. I've been separated for 11 years.
-It's a long time.
Aristo was adorable.
Straight and fearless.
And his boyish attitude
made him irresistible.
He was only rarely difficult
and uncompromising,
unlike some of his friends.
He could be generous to a fault,
and I don't mean only materialistically.
He was never petty.
He never interfered with my art,
except to tell me that I should not feel
under any obligation
to continue my singing career.
Obviously, he said,
the stress had come to be too great,
and as I had more than done my duty...
his words, not mine...
I was entitled to relax
and enjoy my well-earned money.
He would have liked for me to make films,
as he believed it would
have been less tiring for me.
Dear Walter,
I'll probably rest
for the beginning of the coming year.
I owe it to myself and to my voice.
Next year I'll start again, but right now,
I'll just let myself be tired of resting
until I feel like working again,
and will then work.
I've really lost interest in my art,
with all the pushing my husband did,
so now I intend to love my art
by desiring it.
So, I must confirm what everybody says.
You've really changed completely.
You're another woman. Are you happy?
I am much happier,
but no real artist could be happy.
It has been said that even your voice
has changed in quality.
An artist develops in years.
Shall we say that now you've become
a tamed animal;
before, you're just...
you know, you just do things by instinct.
I still do.
In fact, if people come during...
to my performances, they will never find
them exactly the same.
Because I feel that it should be,
at the moment, given...
But we also learn,
we suffer, we develop, we mature,
so therefore, from year to year,
we, of course, change our interpretation.
But I have to feel what I do.
I have to like people to be with them.
I just cannot learn
the art of being a hypocrite.
I wish I could.
In France, people let you be.
That's something I really enjoy.
That's why I chose to stay here for now,
at least for a few months,
because anyhow, we travel all the time.
Sure, I stay at home a lot.
People leave you alone, here.
They don't smother or bother you.
French people have a very special way...
of loving and respecting artists.
People have a particular subtlety here.
No one comes at your door to watch you
like some kind of strange beast.
Whereas in some countries, people do that.
You're in a city to give a concert
and you can't even walk the streets.
They don't let you go shopping.
It's bad because then
you stay locked up inside.
But we all need to get some fresh air
and to live freely,
it's vital for our nerves.
I think that, as a woman,
I'm perfectly normal.
As for my character,
do you mean on the stage of life
or on the theater stage?
Maybe both?
No, they're two completely
different things.
Yet equal.
The spiritual part is always mine.
It belongs to me, and...
You don't see that in life,
because you see just a woman
who likes to walk down the streets,
simple, joyful...
who doesn't like to be watched
because, frankly, l get embarrassed.
When I'm complimented on the street,
I don't know where to hide.
Because obviously it...
it's a bit embarrassing.
Call it shyness or whatever.
And that's hard to believe
because people have a different
impression of me as Callas.
Whereas the woman has simple tastes,
likes to watch TV, read nonsense,
listen to pretty things, of course,
and play the intellectual,
which I'm not as I've never had the time.
I've always been working on
the stage, so...
As an intellectual,
I just learn here and there, that's all.
Maria Callas!
For the last few months,
I only opened my mouth to laugh,
thank God!
I haven't practiced every day
for a long time,
and I just had a look at the lyrics,
so I may stumble on the words.
I'll do my best.
My dear and illustrious colleague.
As t explained to you
in my letter from Monte Carlo,
I was operated on for a hernia
and was unable to offer my beloved maestro
the apogean performance he well deserved.
I do not have, dear friend,
the physical strength
to face the arena once more.
Everyone has faith in me.
You, the maestro, the critics...
but I cannot get over
that evening at the Rome Opera
and how much I suffered.
Perhaps if t had been 20 or 30,
I wouldn't care,
and the joyful dance
of the spirit, as you say,
would help me forget and move forward.
But I don't think I have
the strength to risk facing
such cruelty any longer.
My soul would not recover.
At least that's how I feel now.
I need time.
I would like to thank you
from the bottom of my heart
for having written to me
and for the respect you have shown me.
Please know that I will never forget it.
And thank your wife also.
I envy your family.
There is no greater wealth on earth.
As you look back,
are there things you'd like to change,
or do you buy the package wholesale?
I'll buy the package wholesale.
My God, l never would have dreamed
to come to such a privileged position,
with its good and with its bad.
I have had the possibility
of having inside something that
I could expose to the people,
give to the people and be understood.
You call this little?
I have had, on the other hand,
I didn't have a family, as I wanted to,
and this and that, but...
being right here is already a privilege.
Being able to talk,
even if I'm talking badly, is a privilege.
Miss Callas, how did it feel
to come back to New York
and the Metropolitan
after an absence of seven long years?
First of all, enormous happiness to be,
shall we say, at home.
Then I must say, though,
that all the New Yorkers
really made it...
quite clear that they've
considered me back home,
which was, of course,
the first happy thought about it.
Before I went back,
I really sincerely tell you,
I was terrified.
I didn't want to, and I was trying
to find excuses not to go.
Dennis, how about you?
What brings you out to the line?
Is it Miss Callas
or just plain a love of opera?
Maria Callas. She's the greatest.
Only for her would I do this. Nobody else.
How about you, Lex?
What brings you out in the line?
Well, I've come specifically
to see Callas.
I think it's a shame
that she hasn't been here.
And now that she has agreed to come back,
I think to miss her
would be really a crime.
This woman is undoubtedly
the greatest singer of this century and...
Why do you think she's so great?
Well, first of all,
as a technician, she's magnificent.
As an actress, she is...
there's no word to describe her.
And just her magnetism:
she could sing a poor performance--
I've never had an occasion
to hear it, but she could,
and she would still be
just as magnetic as ever.
This woman is just amazing.
Every line, every rest in the score
has some meaning to Madam Callas.
In your eyes,
then, it's just pure, raw genius.
You bet.
How long have you been in the line?
I've been in line since yesterday at 4:00.
How have you passed the time?
I've just sat, and went across
and had something to eat.
What's going to happen when she finally
gets to appear here after seven years?
She'll get around a 30-minute ovation,
and most likely it will be standing,
even if I have to be
the only one to stand.
-I'm very sure.
-You think you'll have company?
Oh, I'm sure l will. Very sure, yes.
Bravo! Bravo!
As soon as I came out,
the applause started enormously.
And you had to stand there
freezing in a position.
Exactly, freezing in a position that you
don't know how and what to do about,
but especially the great emotion.
I wish we weren't emotional.
I really was crying, and t had to sing.
You know, it kept on for about ten minutes
during my singing.
I was just too emotional
to do anything really properly well.
It was so overwhelming.
-Really incredible.
-I think that...
-the warmth of the reception itself is...
-The warmth of the American public,
I'm afraid it is unique.
And they made a point of showing me
how much they love me,
so they deserve every
best part of me, actually.
And I couldn't even start
to thank all of the people--
the letters, the presents,
the flowers, the adoration
that I have had, which I never,
never thought, honestly.
That was really unique.
It seems nowadays,
the public is much more aware
of the effort you put in,
of all the tension it involves,
-and the love...
-That's true.
A lot of love
and a lot of gratitude, curiously.
They thank me all the time.
It surprises me, you know.
So you're a happy woman?
That's true, I should think so more often.
-You should.
-I should.
-It's the best way to be...
-I just don't always realize it.
What sort of music makes you feel...
at home?
Of course, the music
of Rossini, Donizetti,
Bellini especially...
-Bel canto.
Bel canto, exactly.
Do you feel you've given Bel canto
something special, which is yourself?
I realize people like it a lot more.
Rather than saying: "Opera is so boring!"
opera was considered boring.
Obviously, if it's sung badly,
it can be very boring.
But also...
it's the way in which
I express myself best.
It's my world, if you like.
I feel elevated above everything.
It's my way of expressing myself
and of giving, perhaps...
giving the public perhaps an illusion
of something better in life.
February 1 8, 1 965.
To Elvira de Hidalgo.
Dear Elvira, my gratitude
for your affection is immeasurable.
You know me. I'm shy and rather strange,
but you know how to love me as t am.
The rehearsals went magnificently well,
with the high notes just like before.
In the third act,
I had a moment of panic and fatigue,
but I still sang the C well,
and even the last time, superbly well.
If I manage to control myself,
everything should go as planned.
I am still studying, and I think of you
with so much love and respect.
Your Maria.
To Grace Kelly.
Dear Grace, I wanted to answer you sooner,
but I was busy
gathering my nerves and strength
to fight back on the next performance.
It went perfectly, thank God.
It's hard work, isn't it?
There's always some enemy
ready for a moment of weakness.
I'm dying to finish my work
so I can take a nice rest.
I certainly need it.
I do so hope to see you
and Rainier very soon.
And thank you, dear Grace,
for your lovely flowers and letters.
Lots of love, Maria.
P.S. Aristo sends you both his love.
-Bravo, Maria!
Ladies and gentlemen,
since the beginning of this performance,
madam Maria Callas has been trying
to overcome extreme weakness
and severe depression.
despite her exceptional courage,
for which we thank her,
and the care of her doctor,
it is absolutely impossible for her
to finish this performance.
She is deeply distraught about this,
and we ask you to join us in excusing her.
June 4, 1 965.
Dear Elvira, I've wanted
to write to you for a while now,
but I couldn't find the time
or, rather, the energy.
Changing my voice and technique
during the performances
did no good for my nerves,
which were already strained
after all these years.
After New York, my body shut down.
My blood pressure dropped to seven.
I took a month off to rest,
but it was obvious
that my nerves could not bear
a huge role like Norma.
Now my fatigue is endless,
and my rage even more so
for having crumbled like this.
I found an apartment,
and I'm taking care of it for the moment.
36 Avenue Georges Mandel.
I am at peace here at home.
Peace that has nothing to do
with happiness,
but which at least allows
my nerves to calm down.
They were the real culprit
for everything, as you once said.
I began at 1 3, and now t am 41.
I'm not complaining, but it's a long time.
The soul burns out, and the energy, too.
I'm studying alone.
I have my records to teach me
what I used to do
and my tape recorder
to play me back what t do now
and what I shouldn't do.
If it works, all the better.
If not, I'll give it all up.
Besides, I have Aristo.
What more could I want?
Don't you find Aristo
has changed a lot for the better?
You've given up your citizenship.
That's correct?
Yes, that is correct.
And you're taking
your Greek citizenship back?
I've already taken
my Greek citizenship back.
What is the reason behind this,
Madam Callas?
Well, the real reason l could even say it
is that l am a free woman,
you see, because... during...
with the Greek Iaw,
who is not married after 1 946,
in church, is not married.
-So you understand?
-I understand completely.
Now, do you have any intention
to marry Mr. Onassis?
Oh, well, those are not questions to...
No, right now I'm a free woman,
and very happy to be,
so that is why I had to give up
this American citizenship, unfortunately.
You understand?
Aristo, my love,
I know this is a meager birthday present,
but I must tell you that,
after eight and a half years,
with so much we went through,
I am happy to tell you
from the depths of my heart,
I am proud of you,
I love you, body and soul,
and only wish that you feel the same.
I feel privileged to have reached
the highest level in a tough career
and to be graced by God to have found you,
who went through hell also
and reached the heights,
and to have us together, as we are.
Try, oh, please do,
to keep us united always,
for t do need your love
and respect forever.
I am too proud to admit it,
but know that you are my very breath,
brain, pride and tenderness,
that if you could see
into my feelings for you,
you would feel the strongest
and richest man in the entire world.
This is not a child's letter.
This is a hurt, tired, proud woman
that gives you the most fresh
and youthful sentiments ever felt.
Never forget that,
and be always as tender with me
as these days.
And you make me the queen of the world...
my love.
I need affection and tenderness.
I am yours.
Do as you will with me.
Your soul...
There is one prayer that I do.
It's my own.
-I hope you won't laugh at me.
-No. What is it?
Every now and then, I say:
"God, help me...
give me what you want.
I have no choice, good or bad.
But give me the strength also
to be able to overcome it."
Dear Elvira, I'm doing fairly well,
given the circumstances.
It's as if I've been hit hard
over the head
and I still can't catch my breath.
I received three phone calls,
one I didn't answer.
When I answered the two others, it was...
it was horrible for me.
As t told you, he is irresponsible,
and therefore it's
really disgusting for me.
I'm at home in Paris
trying to sort things out in my head,
which hurts so terribly.
I'm just trying to survive
these few months.
I don't make too much effort,
as my mind is weakened,
and so my psyche, too.
I really wouldn't know where
to go to get a little rest.
I am so lost,
after so many years of work
and sacrifices for one man,
that I find myself incapable
of knowing where to go.
It's the last straw.
Anyway, if you wish, write to me here.
I send you all my love.
I hope that you don't worry
too much about me.
God has always been my guide.
He will show me the way again,
and I hope that
he will give me the strength
to get through this crisis, too.
My dear, sweet, longtime friend.
Your Maria, always.
Thank you, dear Elvira,
thank you for your kind letter.
It's cruel, isn't it?
But they're both paying for it.
Or they will pay. You'll see.
What is worst of all is that he said
nothing to me about the marriage.
I think he at least owed me that
after nine years by his side.
I shouldn't have found out
about it in the papers.
But I consider him a fool,
and as such,
I am erasing him from my mind.
I need to work as soon as possible.
Anyhow, I won't be able
to do anything until next year.
I'm coping rather well
under the circumstances,
and I thank you for all of your affection.
I will write to you soon to tell you
about my possible projects,
given that I haven't decided
anything for now.
All my affection and respect.
As always, your Maria.
For nine years,
you've been living a hidden life
and a humiliating life
for a person like I am,
and you're not cured in two months,
and I don't have
that much time to get cured.
Next year I've got to sing,
somehow or another,
I don't care at what price.
I've given up a hell of a career,
and it's too easy to say,
"Oh, thank you very much."
For eight years, nine years,
we did our best to be happy.
"Oh, ain't that sweet,"
as they say of all this.
It's so easy to say no one is immature.
Christianity says you must forgive,
you must have no resentment.
I don't have resentment, but I have hurt.
How can I get rid of that?
One last cigarette, and you drive me home?
The phenomenal publicity that surrounds
your friendship with Aristotle Onassis,
to what extent does that limit your life?
Does that, in fact,
create a barrier that prevents you
meeting and talking because you know
that flashbulbs are going to flash?
Of course, it's not pleasant, because...
there is no relaxation.
He is a married man.
Before, I was a married woman.
I still am, but I'm going to get a divorce
if the divorce law comes out.
And well, they have created problems.
He had a family. He had children.
Now he has a wife; I've never met her.
Never. And so...
naturally, not having met her,
it could create problems.
I don't know. I hope not.
'Cause I'm not the kind of type
that would create problems.
But I mean, a meeting like that
is made much more difficult
by all the publicity, I presume.
Well, I don't know.
It depends on whether the man needs you.
There are many a time that I'm sure
Onassis needs me as a friend,
because I would tell him the truth.
Not that you men like the truth.
-Hey, well...
-Don't we? Oh, we love it.
-Oh, no.
-We're so grateful for it.
-You're lying.
- We're so grateful for the truth.
We can't get enough of it.
I'm quite sure, though, that Mr. Onassis
would always come to me with his problems,
knowing that I would never repeat
and he would find an objective mind.
Now, I bet you're wondering,
would I need his friendship?
Yes, l suppose.
And would you go to him with a problem?
Yes, but l have many friends, also,
that in the meantime have taken place.
I mean, just plain good friends.
I would. I would.
Medea is your first film,
but is it the first film
you've ever been offered?
No, I've been offered several,
but it's the first one
I thought was worthy enough
for me not to say no.
For an actress,
I think it's a wonderful role.
You're a friend of Pasolini, l believe.
I've become his friend, I think.
My collaboration with Mr. Pasolini
has really been...
It's been very...
very moving and very real,
every minute of the day.
(speaking French)
Everything is timing in life.
What we are trying, I may say,
is to find the human part of Medea.
A woman.
With all the experiences of a woman.
Even more so. Everything is bigger.
Bigger sacrifice, big...
Everything is bigger.
The scenery is bigger.
But the hurt is just there,
just the same as any other woman.
Even more so.
(speaking Italian)
How much would you like
to make more films?
I don't have that much experience.
I don't know what
this experience will bring me,
so I think we should
talk about that a little later
when I've finished this work.
But I must say that this role is the...
at least the way we've built it up.
I don't know whether you know it,
and I don't know how the public
will take it, but...
I don't think you can find roles
as hard and as vast as this one.
I think we are starting at the end
instead of at the beginning.
I'll let Mr. Pasolini speak
because he's got to know me.
He can judge me objectively.
What am I like, Pier Paolo, really?
The thing you like most is work.
-That's true.
-And then life.
Life itself.
So you see me as a life enthusiast.
-I take part...
-You always have strong feelings.
When you're happy,
you're completely and utterly happy.
The same when you're unhappy.
Yes, but I hide, don't I?
-Is there room for love then?
-Yes, but love is so difficult.
And you pay a heavy price.
Good God, love is something very noble,
but, my God, it can be difficult...
In the coming years, you have to realize
that I can't go on singing forever,
If I'm considered, at least,
a decent actress,
that's already a great deal for me.
And it opens up
the possibility of working,
in the few young years which I have left.
Why do you say "young years"?
Surely one can act at any age?
That's true.
But I can see very clearly
into the future,
and I'm a young woman...
but not so young anymore.
You say you need to work,
so why haven't you sung for four years?
I wasn't well.
My health was...
I can't say l fell apart, but...
ever since I was a child,
I seem really, really strong,
but in fact, I'm not.
Then there was my career,
which was really tough
though really wonderful,
with all the stress and so on...
And of course,
the body cannot withstand it all.
I'm a woman, after all.
Do you have a precise plan
or a desire you would like to fulfill?
I'm open to any... to any...
Now that I've made a start,
if people like me,
maybe I can start having a little fun.
Lady Macbeth?
That's very tempting.
I've done it on the opera stage.
I have to admit, I'd be tempted.
What else?
Even comic roles, I'd like that.
Madam President!
The 38th Artists' Gala is now open.
Let the attractions begin!
Maria? Maria!
At first,
I would not let him into the flat,
but imagine that one day
he kept on whistling outside,
as young men used to do
in Greece 50 years ago.
They wooed their sweethearts with song.
So I had to let him in
before the press realized
what was going on
in Avenue Georges Mandel.
Nevertheless, at the time,
I was terribly upset
and thought him a proper bastard.
I used other words
I do not care to repeat.
It was later, when he came back,
and when I began to regain my lost pride,
that I was able to put things in a wiser
and more realistic perspective.
Of course, his immediate explanation
was that his marriage was a mistake.
His mistake, not his wife's,
as I bluntly told him.
He got exactly what he had bargained for,
and he had only himself to blame.
His so-called "marriage contract"
was a bizarre arrangement
I could never understand.
I took him back.
That is how my great friendship
with Aristo was born.
Let's say, a passionate friendship.
After his marriage, we never quarreled.
We talked things through constructively.
He stopped arguing.
There was no longer the need
to prove anything,
either to ourselves or to one another.
My affair with Onassis was a failure,
but my friendship with him...
was a success.
You recently said
in a newspaper interview:
"I believe I must be
just a little American kid
at the back of my mind,
because I wanted someone, Prince Charming,
to come in and take me away."
-Very true.
-Do you think he ever will?
Up to now, he hasn't. Or rather, he has.
You know the man I'm talking, of course.
It was only the second man
and probably the only one,
a non-husband, Mr. Onassis.
And, you see...
You hope a lot. Maybe it's my fault.
I put a man on a pedestal,
and... I hoped a lot,
and I probably was disappointed,
and it probably was my fault.
-Do you still hope?
-Hope in what?
-To find...?
-You still hope Prince Charming will come?
Well, it won't be
Prince Charming at our age.
At my age, I don't expect
a Prince Charming.
I expect a mature man
who will accept me as I am
-and wilI guide me--
-Would you give up singing then?
-Oh, naturally.
-You would?
Well, at this age, yes.
It has been said Maria Callas
gave up singing for Aristotle Onassis.
Well, I could do without answering that,
but I think it's an honest question.
I thought that when l met a man I loved
that I didn't need to sing.
Because I think that a woman necess...
the most important thing in a woman
is to have a man of her own
and to make him happy.
And I have integrity,
which is a very expensive...
using Onassis' words,
it's a very expensive...
price to pay for integrity and honesty.
But I can pay that price.
Maria! Maria!
Maria! Maria! Maria!
I must say, this evening,
I was a little more emotion than usual,
because when a public loves me that much,
I have to give that much more...
and there's no end to it.
So I'll try a little more,
and I'll do the usual song,
which I... "O mio babbino caro."
"O my public caro."
It's really very, very rewarding.
They were probably applauding
what they were hoping to hear.
I don't know if they were really...
if I deserved all that,
but you can never fight the public.
So they seem very happy,
but I must say also,
they were very grateful, as I was also,
that I was able to come back.
You can't just applaud the legend,
if you don't give them something to...
And after all, what is the legend?
The public made me.
What is a legend?
I think l'm a very human, human being.
If I wasn't human,
I probably would have sung better.
I had a touch of nerves
in the beginning, and...
You see, when a public loves you so much,
you want to do so much more.
And what I want more is
never what I would like to.
Not even in the good old days.
When I saw Aristo for the last time,
he was calm and,
I think, at peace with himself.
He was very ill, and he knew
that the end was near,
though he tried to ignore it.
We did not speak about old times
or much about anything else.
We mostly communicated
with each other in silence.
As I was about to leae,
he made a special effort to tell me...
"I loved you.
Not always well,
but as much and the best I could.
I tried."
I have written my memoirs.
They are in the music I interpret,
the only language I really know.
I want to thank all the public,
who remained close to me,
in difficult times,
not only in times of glory.
They wrote to me, they adored me,
they understood me,
generally they loved me.
So for that too I am very grateful.
I feel only gratitude towards the world.
That's all.