Maria Callas The Exhibition


The Exhibition is the first major exhibition dedicated to the greatest soprano of all time Maria Callas. Curated by Massimiliano Capella, the presentation marks the 40th anniversary of the death La Divina. It includes costumes and props jewelry, Private clothes, especially those by Biki, the Milanese stylist who fashioned the ‘Callas look’ during the Milan years, as well as several opera costumes; there are personal treasures and stage jewellery; hats, wigs and glasses; telegrams, letters, newspaper articles and photographs illustrating the successes, the scandals, and her loves.

The exhibition is on display until September 18, 2016, in Verona and will soon begin its international tour, from Athens to New York, from Paris to Mexico City…. I don’t have information about the international tour yet but I’ll add it at the bottom of this post as soon as I find some!


The Curator Massimiliano Capella has used 2200 mannequins and has divided the exhibition into fourteen sections starting with America and Greece and ends in a small dark room with a video of Callas’s ashes being scattered on the Aegean Sea.

Here’s a quick background of her life for those of you who are interested:

I’m going to start from her “Milan years” because to me that’s where she rose and gave her greatest performances and, of course, it was at La Scala where she recorded many of the EMI recordings. On 17 September 1947 Callas had auditioned for La Scala with Casta Diva and O Patria mia, but the Artistic Director, Mario Labroca, didn’t think she was suitable. However, a substitution for Renata Tebaldi on 12 April 1950 in Aida launched a relationship that would continue for more than a decade. Between 1950 and 1962 she would sing 23 different operas, appearing on the Milanese stage 181 times.

Although critics and public were mostly enthusiastic about her vocal performances between 1947 and 1953, comments about her physical aspect were less favourable. Although she was quite tall at 1.73 meters (5’ 8”) she weighed almost 100 kilos (220 lbs); quite a large girl. In 1952 a tactless critic wrote, “It was impossible to distinguish between the elephants’ feet and those of Aida.”

So between the summer of 1952 and the spring of 1954, she lost 35 kilos, and in doing so – with the help of Biki – transformed herself into a style icon. Many of her outfits are reunited for the Callas exhibition. (The iconic portrait by Jerry Tiffany in New York for EMI in 1958 demonstrates how the transformation was complete).

In 1952 she made her debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Norma. London would later be the place of her last appearance in a complete opera, in 1965, and one of the dates of her final concert tour with Giuseppe di Stefano in 1973. But London was to also be the setting for a famous… infamous encounter.


In 1959, when Callas was one of the core members of the international jet set, a party was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel after the opening of Medea at Covent Garden on 17 June 1959. The event was held at London’s Dorchester Hotel after the opening of Medea at Covent Garden on 17 June 1959. The event was hosted by Aristotle Onassis. the picture above was taken at the event!!!! The next month Callas and her husband were already guests aboard his yacht Christina and the fatal relationship began.


Her relationship with Onassis ended in 1968 when he left her for Jacqueline Kennedy.

In 1969 she did interpret one of her opera characters again for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film of Medea; though on this occasion she wasn’t required to sing. Piero Tosi’s magnificent costume for the film is part of the exhibition, so is the favourite black leather jacket that Callas wore during this period. Various documents on show illustrate the intimate nature of the friendship between the director and his leading lady.

The final rooms contain some of her hats, bags, shoes, turbans and other accessories which Biki so carefully labelled in the early years to help her young protégé coordinate the right hat with the right gown. Biki continued to dress her when she lived in Paris, as well as Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Hérmes and Alexander for her wigs.

In the early ‘70s she appeared at Juilliard for the legendary workshops, directed I Vespri Siciliani together with Di Stefano in Turin, and Di Stefano convinced her to join him on an around-the-world concert tour which finished in 1974.

27 November 1973: Maria Callas gives a farewell concert at the Royal Festival Hall.

In 1975, Onassis died in a Paris hospital, a few months later Pasolini’s murdered body was found on the beach at Ostia near Rome, and the following year saw the death of another friend and mentor Luchino Visconti, who once said that he’d only started directing opera because of Callas.

She died of a heart attack on 16 September 1977. She was 53.

The Christina O

Yesterday while driving towards Monaco we came across The Christina O in all her pride and glory… she stood out between all the other boats around her even though they were much bigger…. She was  truly magnificent …. I must admit that I was a little bit too excited and asked my husband to stop the car so I could take this picture

Christina O was originally a Canadian River- class frigate and was launched in 1943. She served as a convoy escort during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II. After the war the Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis bought her for just $34,000 …. He spent $4 million (equivalent to $ 45 million today) to convert her into a luxurious yacht and renamed her Christina after his daughter. She was designed by Cäsar Pinnau and the children’s room was designed and painted by the illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans.

The Christina was Onassis’s pride and joy…..His first wife, shipping heiress Tina Livanos, said, “The yacht is his real passion. He is like a housewife fussing over it, constantly looking to see that everything is impeccable.” ……..A crew member once explained, “You could smash up a $20,000 speedboat into pieces and not a word would be said, but spit on the Christina’s deck, and you were out of a job.”.

Onassis entertained a lot on the Christina … so many events happened on board that defined 3 decades of the very essence of the Jet Society…… 

During the 50s Onassis regularly entertained celebrities including Frank Sinatra, The Aga Kahn, John Paul Getty, John D Rockefeller, Eva Peron, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Rudolf Nureyev, John Wayne, Greta Garbo and Dame Margot Fonteyn.

John F Kennedy was first introduced to Sir Winston Churchill on the Christina…… In 1956 the private wedding reception of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace took place on board.

 Aristotle Onassis and Sir Winston Churchill in the yacht’s swimming pool. It doubled as a dance floor – Onassis’ party trick was to flood it while people were still dancing.

For nearly 9 years the Christina was a stage to one of the world most famous love affairs …. Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas ( the ultimate Diva and one of my style icons)

One of my favorite pictures of the couple … They looked so happy together!

In 1968 Onassis married Jackie Kennedy on board of the Christina at his private island of Scorpios…. The Christina from then on entertained a new generation: the Kennedy children ofcourse, as well as dignitaries from both sides of the Atlantic.

Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at their wedding reception on board the Christina. ( Jackie’s dress was by Valentino)

When Aristotle Onassis died in 1975, he left the yacht to his daughter, who gave it to the Greek government for use as a presidential yacht. The Christina was renamed The Argo but was left to decay in a port in Greece until finally in 1998 was purchased by Greek shipowner John Paul Papanicolaou (who had sailed on her as a child). He changed her name to Christina O and undertook a major refurbishment between January 1999 and April 2001. In 2006 she became available to charter at between 45,000 and 65,000 Euros per day.

Christina O has a master suite, eighteen passenger staterooms, and numerous indoor and outdoor living areas, all connected by a spiral staircase. Compared to a typical 21st-century super yacht, the staterooms are relatively small and Christina O doesn’t have an indoor boat storage that is now standard for all sorts of boy toys; but on the other hand, the number of living areas are quite large, and the outdoor deck space is large. The main deck has an outdoor pool with a mosaic floor (with ancient Greek design) that rises at a push of a button to form a dance floor, and there is a heli-plad on the promenade deck. In Ari’s Bar, the barstools retain the original upholstery made from a very soft, fine leather made from the foreskin of a Minke Whale.

Here are a few photos I’ve found of the old interior

For more information: Christina O.