Sunday, April 04, 2010

In a class by herself . . .

More than 300 books have been written about Maria Callas, the legendary soprano whose life was as tragic as it was transcendent. Callas, who died in 1977, had what opera lovers call "presence," that rare quality enabling special performers to command, and sometimes captivate, an audience.

Westwood's Istituto Italiano di Cultura is celebrating her life and style in an exhibition, "Maria Callas: A Woman, a Voice, a Myth," which pays homage to the diva's profound impact on her art form. It offers an opportunity for those who are too young to appreciate or who may have forgotten about her style, tenacity and talent.

The exhibition, which includes an array of memorabilia, stage costumes and jewels as well as rare letters and photographs, is the work of Bruno Tosi, a passionate Callas collector and archivist of these precious pieces. His dream: to gather as many of her belongings as possible, safeguard them and share them with the world. This is the last year the treasures will be on tour. In the future, they will find a permanent home in Venice, Italy, where a museum waits to honor her memory.

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