Maria Callas


  1. Irene Papas, The Guns of Navarone, 1960.   The opera diva turned  down the small role of Maria Pappadimos in the WWII thriller set in her Greece. Callas later made her screen  acting debut  six years later in  a French tele-movie, Adieux de Tabarin. Her most famous (sixth and last) screen role was as Medea,  in the Italian  film  made by Pier Paulo Pasolini in 1969. 
  2. Ava Gardner,  The Bible… In The Beginning, 1966.     Rome producer Dino DeLaurentiis saw Callas as Sarah, one of his many ideas (like five directors and  two six-hour films for $90m). Final director John Huston asked his kids for advice about interviewing Callas.  Tony: “Don’t get drunk.” Angelica: “Don’t sing.” At their meeting,  she asked Hustonj:  “Do you sing?” “Only when I’m drunk.”  He preferred Ava. Unfortunately, Huston also chose George C Scott as Abraham – and poor Ava soon had the bruises to prove it.
  3. Elizabeth Taylor, Boom (US: Boom!), 1968.      Joe Losey wanted her for as Flora “Sissy” Goforth in the (quite terrible) Tennessee Williams piece. Visconti and Zeffirelli also chased her but she wasn’t having any – apart from Pasolini’s Medea, 1969.
  4. Elizabeth Taylor, Identikit, Italy, 1974. Italian director Luchino Visconti’s first, only choice, when London producer Joseph Janni bought him Muriel Spark’s novel in 1970.      Four years on, film-maker Giuseppe Patroni Griffi located Liz.
  5. Teresa Stratas, La traviata, Italy, 1982.  Franco Zeffirelli had always wanted to film the Verdi opera with his – and the world’s – favourite soprano, La Callas.  Alas, she died    xx years before he managed to mount the film, with another Greek diva, Stratas, as Violetta falling in love and dying young like so many ofg Zeffirelli’s heroines, including his own mother. Her Alfredo was sung by the maestro’s usual operatic leading man, the Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. Zeffirelli called him “the  male Callas.”  (I bet he loved that!).
  6. Kristine Olesen, Medea, Denmark, 1988.      The great Danish film-maker, Carl Theodor Dreyer (Las passion de Jeanne d’Arc, Vampyr, Gertrud) was first to try and unite La Callas and Euripides. The veteran could not raise a budget; she made another version for Pasolini, 1969. Dreyer died in 1968 at age 69. And Lars Von Trier filmed Dreyer’s script 20 years later.


 Birth year: 1923Death year: 1977Other name: Usual occupation: SingerCasting Calls:  6