- Title: New exhibition gives rare insight into life of diva Maria Callas
- Date: 1st June 2017
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) THEOCHARAKIS FOUNDATION GENERAL MANAGER FOTIS PAPATHANASIOU SAYING: "Of course you can say that Callas died at age 53 which is young, but in the end she had such a full life."
- Embargoed: 15th June 2017 16:58
- Keywords: Maria Callas art exhibition opera Athens
- Location: ATHENS, GREECE
- City: ATHENS, GREECE
- Country: Greece
- Topics: Art,Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Human Interest / Brights / Odd News,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0086JG6KBD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Forty years after her death, the personal life of opera great Maria Callas still has a rapt audience.
An exhibition in Athens, called "Maria Callas - The Myth Lives On", is displaying 200 personal items belonging to the star, including some never put on display before, offering a rare glimpse into her personal life until her death in 1977.
The exhibits range from elegant Biki gowns to a diamond-encrusted Bulgari clutch bag. But it is memorabilia from her explosive love affair with shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis which dominate.
Their affair was initially kept secret as they were both married. But once they were both free to marry, Callas was dealt a painful and shocking blow when Onassis decided to marry Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of John F. Kennedy, instead of her.
In the exhibition, Onassis's presence is everywhere: the cup he always used to drink his coffee at Callas's apartment, a gold plated box he gave to her that rested on her bedside table, a gold chain he wore around his neck from which hung a gold cigar cutter Callas gave him, and a white mink fur bolero, believed to be a gift from Onassis. It is widely rumoured she wore the wrap on purpose the day he married Kennedy.
"I feel a deep sadness for a woman who gave so much and suffered so much. I have read a lot about her life, but now that I see it I get goosebumps," said visitor Chrysoula Papaconstantinou.
Callas died suddenly of a heart attack in 1977 aged 53 in her Paris apartment. The exhibition's items create an image of her last moments: the cup she drank the last drops of coffee from before dying, the last autographed photo she signed a day before, her favourite cross placed around her neck when she died, and the bottle of perfume she dabbed on that morning. Roses - now withered - sent from her rival, opera singer Renata Tebaldi, the day after her death, are also on display. Even a lock of her hair, given to her butler, is included in a glass box. Organizers said Callas liked to give locks of her hair to the people she loved.
The items belong to a private collector, who acquired them from Callas' servants and family.
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