Who: Marina Abramović, Willem Dafoe, Hera Hyesang Park, Selene Zanetti, Leah Hawkins, Gabriella Reyes, Nadezhda Karyazina, Adela Zaharia, Lauren Fagan
What: Livestreamed opera/performance hybrid
Where: STAATSOPER.TV, BR-Klassik Concert, and ARTE concert
When: Saturday, September 5, free, 12:30 (available through October 7)
Why: In December 2013, Serbian-born, New York-based multidisciplinary performance artist Marina Abramović presented The Life and Death of Marina Abramović at Park Ave. Armory, an audiovisual spectacle directed by Robert Wilson, with Abramović playing herself and her mother and Willem Dafoe as the Narrator. Abramović is now looking at a different kind of fictional finality with 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, an operatic work currently being staged in person to a limited, socially distanced audience at Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. The multimedia piece explores seven doomed characters portrayed by American-born Greek opera legend Maria Callas in La Traviata, Tosca, Otello, Madame Butterfly, Carmen, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Norma, embodied here by Hera Hyesang Park, Selene Zanetti, Leah Hawkins, Gabriella Reyes, Nadezhda Karyazina, Adela Zaharia, and Lauren Fagan, who face consumption, jumping, strangulation, hara-kiri, knifing, madness, and burning; Abramović herself brings to life the demise of Callas. In addition, Dafoe appears in seven films with Abramović.
“For twenty-five years I have wanted to create a work dedicated to the life and art of Maria Callas. I had read all the biographies about her, listened to her extraordinary voice, and watched film recordings of her performances. Like me she was a Sagittarius,” Abramović writes in her autobiography, Durch Mauern gehen. “I was always fascinated by her personality, her life — and her death. Like so many of the characters she portrayed on stage, she died for love. She died of a broken heart.” Abramović designed the sets with Anna Schöttl, wrote the libretto with Petter Skavlan, and directs with Lynsey Peisinger; the music is by Marko Nikodijević and conducted by Yoel Gamzou and features Bayerisches Staatsorchester and Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper. The September 5 show will be streamed live at 12:30 EDT and will be available for free viewing through October 7.