Maria by Callas
The life of world-famous 20th-century opera singer Maria Callas gets the Amy treatment in this serviceable documentary from director Tom Volf. Rather than rely on “expert” testimonials, Volf goes the in-her-own-words route, assembling Maria by Callas from period clips and recordings of Callas, as well as her own letters and telegrams (contemporary opera singer Joyce DiDonato voices Callas, who died in 1977 at the age of 52). Maria by Callas rushes through the American-born, Greek-educated soprano’s early life, largely focusing on the tabloid controversies that dogged Callas at the height of her fame, including her affair with Aristotle Onassis and her public image as a temperamental diva. Nearly two hours long and loaded with performance sequences, Maria by Callas is more for opera diehards, and the most striking revelation here is that once upon a time, people became famous for being the best at something rather than the worst.