As Abramović’s new opera 7 Deaths of Maria Callas opens this evening in Munich, watch an exclusive clip from a conversation between the artist and the designer, who has created the production’s dramatic costumes
Released today, a new film from Burberry sees the house’s creative director Riccardo Tisci in conversation with conceptual artist Marina Abramović. The longtime friends – who met after Tisci collaborated with her then-husband Paolo Canevari for a project in AnOther, and have since deemed each other “soul mates” – talk on the occasion of Abramović’s upcoming opera, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, for which Tisci has designed the costumes.
Premiering this evening in Munich, the opera – which Abramović directs, set designs, and also appears on stage in – draws on the artist’s lifelong obsession with America-born Greek soprano Maria Callas, created in collaboration with composer Marko Nikodijević and writer Petter Skavlan. Centring on Callas’ most famous operatic scenes from Carmen, Tosca, Otello, Lucia di Lammermoor, Norma, Madame Butterfly and La traviata, the opera combines well-known arias with elements of performance and video art (short films, which accompany each of the sections, see Abramović perform alongside the actor Willem Dafoe). The opera’s blurb says that 7 Deaths depicts how Callas’ exchange of “life for art never allowed a separation between stage appearance and private person”.
7 Deaths also marks the culmination of an idea which had been percolating in Abramović’s mind since she first discovered the operatic diva aged 14. “I was mesmerised, and I had goose pimples, and total electricity in my body,” she recently told the New York Times. “Later on, I knew everything about her ... I read eight biographies, all of them, and there was so much similarity that I see in myself. We are Sagittarius, the same; we had bad mothers. And then, also, this incredible intensity in the emotions, that she can be fragile, and strong at the same time.” Earlier iterations of the project saw filmmakers including Alejandro González Iñárritu, Yorgos Lanthimos and Giada Colagrande slated to each direct a section, before the stage version was announced in 2018.
Tisci previously collaborated with Abramović on his Spring/Summer 2016 show for Givenchy, held in New York, which she art directed (while creative director of the Parisian house, he also designed costumes for Paris’ Opera Ballet’s production of Maurice Ravel’s Boléro). The process of creating the costumes for 7 Deaths was, according to Burberry, a “a joint creative experience, evolving and reinterpreting through a modern lens the dramatic, theatrical costumes expected from opera”. Highlights include a red, matador-inspired ensemble with bejewelled cuffs, a bridal white gown and floor-length veil – trimmed with lace, a longtime signature of Tisci’s – and another gown decorated in hundreds of mirrored silver pailettes.
Watch an exclusive clip from the film below and watch the full film here.
7 Deaths of Maria Callas runs from September 1 – 6, 2020 at Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. A live stream will take place on Bayerische Staatsoper’s website at 6.30pm German time on September 6, 2020.