7 Deaths of Maria Callas

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March 2023

Marina Abramović, a Serbian mother of performance and with a wonderful career spanning more than four decades, has been instrumental in rethinking the image of the female body in the twentieth century. The autobiographical character of his work, fueled by the inherent suffering of his disappointment and love dramas, finds a particular resonance in the life of Maria Callas (1923-1977). Who better than the great diva who has embodied mortal passions, both in opera and in her private life?

On the centenary of Callas' birth, also known as the Absolute , Abramović presents this show at the crossroads of opera, live art, performance and video creation. Maria Callas 's Les set morts includes some of the iconic arias that marked the artistic biography of the Greek soprano. Interventions reminiscent of the countless women sacrificed at the hands of nineteenth-century composers; a puppet theater where women have been the victims.

Evenings that represent the culmination of his passion, obsession and empathy for the virtuous figure, the myth and the tragedy of the celebrated soprano; a new immersive experience based on these seven premature deaths of the characters which, in turn, are self-portraits of the artist who inhabits these different characters: from the abandoned bride to the sacrificed lover.

Callas, with a complex personal life of lost loves and a lonely death, relives more than ever in these reinterpreted experiences of death; traumatic moments of loss, love and longing where Abramović honors and inhabits the spirit of Callas herself, suggesting that these roles can be reimagined and renewed for future generations of performers.

7 Deaths of Maria Callas
Opera scenes by Vincenzo Bellini, Georges Bizet, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Petter Skavlan and Marina Abramović Opera 
project: Marina Abramović 
Music: Marko Nikodijević 
Absolute premiere 01/09/2020 at the Bayerische State of Munich

Program and cast

Artistic file

Opera project

Marina Abramovic


Marko Nikodijević

Stage direction

Marina Abramovic

Audiovisual direction

Nabil Elderkin


Benedict Stampfli

Changing room

Riccardo Tisci


Urs Schönebaum


Luke Kozlovacki

Audiovisual of the intermezzi

Marco Brambilla

Actress and live performance

Marina Abramovic

Audiovisual actor

Willem Dafoe


Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Greek National Opera in Athens, Paris National Opera



FLORIA TOSCAVanessa Goikoetxea

DESDEMONABenedetta Torre

CIO-CIO-SANAntonia Ahyoung Kim

CARMENRinat Shaham

LUCIA ASHTONLeonor Bonilla

NORMAMarta Mathéu

Choir of the Gran Teatre del Liceu (Pablo Assante, director)

Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu


Josep Pons

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Barcelona's opera house, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, was founded on the Rambla in 1847 and has continued over the years to fulfil its role as a culture and arts centre and one of the symbols of the city.

Today it is publicly-owned (by the Government of Catalonia, Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Provincial Council and the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte) and administered by the Fundació del Gran Teatre del Liceu which, in addition to the aforementioned bodies, incorporates the Patronage Council and the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu (the old society of owners).

Origins: From 1837 to 1847

The Liceu evolved out of the Sociedad Dramática de Aficionados (Society of theatre-lovers) set up in 1837 at the instigation of Manuel Gibert in the former convent of Montsió by members of the National Militia, an organization of armed citizens with liberal leanings.
Barcelona's economy and population were growing fast at the time and the city needed a music conservatory. This led to the conversion of the Sociedad Dramática into the Liceo Filármonico Dramático Barcelonés de S.M. la Reina Isabel II (Barcelona Dramatic and Philharmonic Lyceum of HM Queen Isabel II).  In addition to its theatrical activities, the new organization cultivated Italian-style singing and music.

The building on the Rambla

The original building was solemnly opened on 4 April 1847. The plans had been drawn up by Miquel Garriga i Roca, subsequently assisted by Josep Oriol Mestres. The project was funded by selling shares, which meant that many of the boxes and seats were to be privately owned. The shareholders formed the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu, known as the “Societat de Propietaris” (Society of Owners),  which was in sole charge of running the Gran Teatre del Liceu from 1855 onwards, after it was legally separated from the Conservatori del Gran Teatre del Liceu.
The theatre was operated by impresarios who were given a concession to stage a specific number of productions in exchange for the proceeds from the sale of tickets not reserved for the Societat itself. This system was to endure until 1980.

The creation of the Consortium

By the last quarter of the 20th century this management system was no longer viable. In 1980, to avert the danger of the disappearance of an institution of such worldwide cultural renown, the Generalitat  Catalonia's first government in modern times – set up a consortium, the Consorci del Gran Teatre del Liceu, which also incorporated Barcelona City Council and the Societat del Gran Teatre del Liceu. Barcelona Provincial Council joined the Consortium in 1985, followed by the Spanish Ministry of Culture in 1986. From then on the Consortium took over operation of the theatre.

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