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Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas (2019)
Marina Abramović, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas (2019). Photography Marco Anelli, Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives

Take a look behind the scenes of Marina Abramović’s epic opera project

This new book offers a privileged BTS glimpse at 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, one of the artist’s most ambitious projects to date

7 Deaths of Maria Callas, which premiered at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsopera this year, may be one of Marina Abramović’s most large-scale, ambitious projects to date. Having first conceived of the idea over 30 years ago, she’s been steadfastly carrying it around with her ever since, waiting for the moment to make it happen. “In my life, I don’t give up easily. Once I want to do something, I have to do it – even if it takes 30 years,” she told Dazed last month. “To walk the Great Wall of China, it took me eight years to get Chinese permission. Seven Easy Pieces at the Guggenheim took me 12 years. Time doesn’t mean anything, but this was the time to do (this opera).” 

Paying tribute to the legendary soprano, 7 Deaths of Maria Callas features a series of singers recreating the melodramatic moments of Callas’ most renowned on-stage deaths. Featuring films of Abramović (who bears a striking resemblance to Callas) and a murderous Willem Dafoe, the opera culminates in the acclaimed artist making an appearance on stage to perform the death of Callas herself. 

“I had the idea for a long, long time because I was very much touched by Maria Callas,“ she tells Dazed. ”I had a very similar experience of a broken heart as she did. She died but I didn’t die, and my work really saved me after that. I’ve always wanted to address this problem, and dying for love is something that is always there. As long as human beings exist, we all die. We all have at least one experience of loving so much that we want to die – or, we don’t die, but we have broken hearts.“

Shedding fascinating light on Abramović’s methodology and practice, a new book offers a glimpse behind the scenes of this epic multimedia opera project, which had not only germinated in the artist’s creative consciousness for three decades but also drew on the collective talents of an all-star cast of creatives, including costumes by Burberry’s chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci.

7 Deaths of Maria Callas is published by Damiani and available to order now. Read our full interview with Marina Abramović here