An Introduction to 7 Deaths of Maria Callas

Maria Callas, one of the most famous opera singers of the 20th century, is the inspiration for an opera project from the mind of internationally renowned performance artist, Marina Abramović.

If you’re intrigued by a mixture of performance art, meditative film and classic soprano arias, then we think this is for you.

7 Deaths of Maria Callas takes us through seven arias from works by the composers Bellini, Bizet, Donizetti, Puccini and Verdi. These arias were all performed by Callas herself throughout her career.

In the opera, these seven arias are sung live in the theatre by seven singers. The arias are accompanied by a series of short films starring Marina Abramović and long-time collaborator and actor Willem Defoe.

Read the full synopsis of 7 Deaths of Maria Callas 

Seven arias are sung in their original language as Callas performed them.

  • Violetta’s aria from La traviata, Act 3: “Addio, del passato”
  • Tosca’s aria from Tosca, Act 2: “Vissi d’arte”
  • Desdemona’s aria from Otello, Act 4: “Ave Maria”
  • Cio-Cio-San’s aria from Madame Butterfly, Act 2: “Un bel dì, vedremo”
  • Carmen’s aria (Habanera) from Carmen, Act 1: “L’amour est un oiseau rebel”
  • Lucia’s aria from Lucia di Lammermoor, Act 3: “Il dolce suono”
  • Norma’s aria from Norma, Act 1: “Casta Diva”

These seven arias all have one thing in common. All seven are the final arias sung by the heroine before they tragically die in their respective operas, hence the “7 Deaths” of the title.

The films are titled “Burning”, “Knifing”, “Jumping”, “Hara-kiri”, “Strangulation”, “Consumption” and “Madness”. These titles each match the deaths of the heroines.



The opera ends with an eighth and final death. The scene is set in a hotel room in Paris where the real Callas died.

As well as classic arias, there is new music from Serbian composer, Marko Nikodijević.