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A new show by actress/singer Adi Etzion Zak about the life of Maria Callas, The Destiny Voice, is dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the iconic singer's death. The piece premieres on Tuesday at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Etzion Zak defines her piece as an operatic monodrama.
"I am portraying Callas on stage, with her arias - or fragments from them - being played by the sound system," explains the actress. "These two media supplement each other, and this is how her life story is being told, not especially in chronological order.
"As you probably know, the urn with Callas's remains was stolen and then returned, and it was finally decided to spread her ashes over the Aegean sea. But suddenly a storm started and all the ashes blew back into the faces of the people standing on the deck. And this is how my show begins: Callas comes back to life and tells her story," says Etzion Zak.
The performer chose to focus her sixth profile piece on Callas almost by chance. "In Switzerland, I came across a paperback about Callas and the letters of [opera singer Renata] Tebaldi," she explains. "It helped me realize how tortuous her life had been, and what a high price she had paid for her career. She was a person who wanted everything or nothing. She wasn't born to be a nice housewife - she was jealous, sometimes merciless, and not a good daughter, either."
For Etzion Zak, Callas is an enigma that she struggles to solve on stage: "In a sense, I identify with Callas. My career is about singing and acting, and since I've chosen to perform contemporary music, my life has never been easy - though, of course, not as hard as Callas's."
Crafting a show to keep an audience's attention without a live singer on stage has proven to be an additional challenge.
"At first, I approached Israeli singer Sharon Rostorf Zamir and asked her to participate," says Etzion Zak. "But she refused, saying that no singer can equal Callas, and I could do nothing but agree with her!"
The Destiny Voice premieres at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Tuesday night at 8:30, with additional shows in Jerusalem, Holon and Rehovot later this year. To reserve tickets, or for more information, call the museum at (03) 607-7020
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