Portfolio: Marina Abramovic, Lucia De Lammermoor

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The conceptual artist Marina Abramovic wanted to create art “dedicated” to the life and art of Maria Callas for more than three decades. Instead, a work about death was created by her.

Abramovic writes in the introduction to her new book, The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, “Most operas end with the woman dying, and usually it is because of love” (based on her opera of the same name). “She jumps off precipices, burns to death, is strangled, stabbed to death or simply goes mad.”

It’s the latter in this situation. This illustration by photographer Marco Anelli reflects the interpretation of Donizetti’s Lucia de Lammermoor by Abramovic, itself based (loosely) on the novel The Bride of Lamermoor by Walter Scott.

Following decades of neglect, the opera was one that Maria Callas revived in the 1950s. Callas, according to Abramovic, died of a broken heart (she was in love with Aristotle Onassis, who married Jackie Kennedy instead). It’s inevitable that this story will be turned into an opera.

Marina Abramovic’s The 7 Deaths of Maria Callas, written by Damiani, £55. Picture © Marco Anelli, courtesy of The Archive of Marina Abramovic.

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