Synopsis: 7 DEATHS OF MARIA CALLAS
Anna Barlow is a Police Detective and a trained expert in undercover work. She is investigating the disappearance of three women with a connection: they all worked as escorts. In the course of the investigation, Anna is able to locate the1. Violetta dies of tuberculosis.
I am a flickering flame on a lone candle. Exposed to the elements: To
wind and rain, to love and hate — to sickness and health. The flame can
warm me or burn me. It can light my way or be my guide. But when it goes
out, it cannot be relit. It goes out forever.
Violetta’ aria from La traviata, Act III: “Addio, del passato”
2. Tosca plunges into the depths.
It is not dangerous to jump. It is not dangerous to fall. The rush of air, of
blood through the lungs. Suspended, yet falling. Space. You have time
to feel, time to love. Forever. No, it is not dangerous to fall. It is when you
land it gets dangerous.
Tosca’ aria from Tosca, Act II: “Vissi d’arte”
3. Desdemona is strangled by Otello.
There is an intuition, a premonition, a sense, a suspicion, a dread and a
forewarning. Desdemona knew. She dressed in her marriage gown and
prayed. When Othello came, she was ready.
Desdemona’ aria from Otello, Act IV: “Ave Maria”
4. Cio-Cio-San commits suicide.
In science, butterfly was the name given to an effect, in which small
causes lead to unpredictable consequences. In superstition, the butterfly
is your beloved coming to see you. In mythology, the butterfly is a
human soul; whether it be living, dying, or already dead …
Cio-Cio-San’ aria from Madama Butterfly, Act II: “Un bel dì, vedremo”
5. Carmen is stabbed by Don José.
Her fearlessness fascinates me. Her love of freedom mirrors mine. Her
smoldering sexuality empowers her. She knows what she wants and
takes it. Love guides her heart. Her beauty and her body are hers and
hers alone. She will not be owned. She is her own.
Carmen’ aria (habanera) from Carmen, Act I: “L’amour est un oiseau
6. Lucia dies of madness.
When the universe conspires against you; trampling on your heart, crushing
your soul and invading your brain, you go mad. And when you go
mad, you are no longer responsible. Not for yourself. Not for those around
you. Love becomes hate, hate becomes love, and death becomes the
Lucia’ aria from Lucia di Lammermoor, Act III: “Il dolce suono”
7. Norma goes into the fire.
You walk towards the pyre. The first steps are warm, then they become
hot, only to become scorching. Your skin crawls, your eyes water, your
hair is singed. Walk. Your skin goes red before it blisters. But you keep
on walking. The smell of burning flesh. Your skin turns black. Blindness.
Hair on fire. Singed lungs. Yet you walk on — each step requiring otherworldly
effort. Just before the fire engulfs you — you realize you are not
alone! Then that last step into the furnace. United in flames.
Norma’ aria from Norma, Act I: “Casta Diva”
8. Maria Callas dies from a broken heart.
Marina Abramović enters Maria Callas’s bedroom in Avenue Georges-
Mandel No. 36 in Paris, in which the singer died on September 16th, 1977,
at the age of 53.
But is Maria Callas really dead, or does she still exist, oscillating
between life and death? Marina Abramović slips into Maria Callas’s
bygone life, to which she exposes herself unconditionally. She sits in
her bed and looks at photographs, watches herself in the mirror, opens
the window and inhales the air of Paris, until one last time the voice of
Maria Callas resounds.
The texts printed in italics by Petter Skavlan were written for the Operaproject 7 Deaths of Maria
Callas. They were voiced by Marina Abramović and are heard befor each of the seven arias. area where the last woman went missing. She sets up an identity that is similar to that of the missing women on the website of an escort agency. She receives a request from a man who calls himself Bluebeard. Anna accepts the job and is sent instructions for being picked up by car. She is driven to an underground location in a wealthy neighbourhood. Bluebeard receives her. He adresses her as Judith.
Bluebeard asks Judith several times if she wishes to follow him inside the place he calls his castle or would prefer to turn back and return home. Judith insists that she will never turn back.
Judith studies the interior of the building. It is cold and dark; the walls are wet. When he asks why she followed him, she explains her intent to bring light, air and warmth to the place.
Judith sees that there are seven rooms and instructs Bluebeard to open up their doors. Bluebeard refuses, reminding Judith of the rumours about him. Judith demands the key to the first door. When she tells Bluebeard that she loves him, he gives it to her. When Judith is about to open the door, she hears a crying sound. Judith assumes the walls are groaning.
Judith opens the first door and describes the items in the room: Hooks, knifes. She notices blood on the walls. This is his torture chamber, Bluebeard explains. Judith requests the other keys. Bluebeard asks why and she explains once again that she loves him. He hands her the second key.
In the next room Judith finds weapons. This is the armoury, explains Bluebeard. Here too: dried blood on all the weapons. Judith then asks for the third key, becoming insistent, despite Bluebeard‘s warnings. She says that she loves and now belongs to him. He must now show her the whole castle and open all the doors. Bluebeards tells Judith that he will give her three more keys but that she may not ask any questions.
Behind the third door lie immeasurable treasures and gold jewellery. The treasure chamber. Judith appears impressed, then gasps in shock: here too, everything is covered in blood.
Bluebeard now urges Judith to open the fourth door. She does so and finds Bluebeard’s secret garden behind it. A wonderful place, but Judith once again shrinks back in horror. The garden is soaked with blood. She asks who watered the garden, but Bluebeard avoids the question, pointing out instead that the castle truly is becoming brighter because of her presence. He urges Judith to open the fifth door.
The fifth room is where Bluebeard surveys his domain. Now it all belongs to Judith, Bluebeard tells her. He praises her for bringing in light, but she sees clouds which cast bloody shadows. She reminds him that there are still two doors which remain to be opened.
Bluebeard praises Judith once again and asks her to kiss him. But she says she will not tolerate any closed doors. She instructs Bluebeard to open the final two doors, come what may. Bluebeard is reluctant, but finally gives Judith one more key.
He follows her into the next room. When she asks about the water she sees there, Bluebeard says that these are tears.
Judith begins to ask Bluebeard about his former wives. Bluebeard begs her to love him and desist from further questioning, but she insists, asserting that all the blood must point to the truth behind the circulating rumours. Behind the final door Bluebeard’s former wifes must lie murdered in their own blood. She demands the seventh key which Bluebeard hands to her.
Behind the seventh door, Judith indeed finds Bluebeard’s former wifes – alive. According to Bluebeard, each of the three women stands for a time of the day: morning, afternoon and evening. Judith is supposed to join them, representing the night.
Although Bluebeard exposes Anna’s true identity while they make their way through the underground building, she manages to take his gun from him and achieve the aim of her journey: To free the three women the man has abducted.