Angelina Jolie to play legendary opera star Maria Callas in new biopic ‘Maria’

24 October 2022, 10:44 | Updated: 24 October 2022, 11:21

Angelina Jolie to play legendary opera star Maria Callas in new biopic ‘Maria’
Angelina Jolie to play legendary opera star Maria Callas in new biopic ‘Maria’. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Maria Callas, arguably the 20th century’s most influential opera singer, will be portrayed by Angelina Jolie in a new film by Pablo Larraín.

Angelina Jolie has been cast as ‘La Divina’, legendary opera star Maria Callas, in a new biopic set during the singer’s final days in 1970s Paris.

Maria, led by Chilean director Pablo Larraín (Jackie) and with a screenplay by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders), will tell “the tumultuous, beautiful and tragic story of the life of the world’s greatest opera singer, relived and re-imagined during her final days in 1970s Paris”.

Larraín and Knight collaborated on the 2021 biopic Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Diana, former Princess of Wales.

Jolie told The Hollywood Reporter: “I take very seriously the responsibility to Maria’s life and legacy. I will give all I can to meet the challenge.

“Pablo Larraín is a director I have long admired. To be allowed the chance to tell more of Maria’s story with him, and with a script by Steven Knight, is a dream.”

Read more: 15 facts about the great soprano Maria Callas

Maria Callas sings "Casta Diva" (Bellini: Norma, Act 1)

Larraín added: “Having the chance to combine my two most deep and personal passions, cinema and opera, has been a long-awaited dream. To do this with Angelina, a supremely brave and curious artist, is a fascinating opportunity. A true gift.”

It is yet to be confirmed whether Jolie will provide any vocals for the film, or if the singing will be dubbed by an opera singer as Renée Fleming did for Julianne Moore in Bel Canto – or indeed, whether some of Callas’ own recordings will be used, as in Bohemian Rhapsody.

Hailed by Leonard Bernstein as “the Bible of opera”, Callas remains one of opera’s most adored figures. A leading exponent of the bel canto works of Bellini and Rossini, the New York-born Greek soprano was also widely celebrated for her Verdi and Puccini interpretations; a recording of her singing Tosca in 1952 is considered unparalleled.

Callas’ story has also been coloured by events in her personal life, including her relationship with Aristotle Onassis who left her unexpectedly to marry Jackie Kennedy. The singer spent the last years of her life living in isolation in Paris and died of a heart attack aged just 53.

The biopic will be produced by Fabula Pictures’ Juan de Dios Larraín, Fremantle Company’s Apartment Pictures’ Lorenzo Mieli, and Komlizen Film’s Jonas Dornbach.