Monday, December 3, 2018
Just when you wonder, “Do I really need to see another music doc about an icon?” here comes a doozy — and the answer is yes, you do. Director Tom Volf has achieved something spectacular with his passionate, innovative portrait of the great soprano. For one, he refuses to skimp on the musical evidence, allowing the prima donna to demonstrate her mastery in full arias (which sometimes reflect on her real life) and to tell her story in her own words — through writings and letters or in archival interviews with Edward R. Murrow, David Frost, and others. Callas endures attacks, after a voice meltdown at the Rome Opera, scraps with the Met, and wavering romancing with “Aristo” Onassis. She also loves the camera, and vice versa, as seen in ample footage of her beaming elegance in public. Maria by Callas succeeds in making us fall in love again (or for the first time) with Callas, and with opera.