Skip to main content

MARIA BY CALLAS Q&A with Joyce DiDonato

Maria by Callas

Maria Callas, born in 1923 New York as Maria Kalogeropoulou, made her opera debut when she was just 15 years old, and went on to study under famed soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. Her work includes iconic performances at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden in London, the Paris Opéra, Vienna State Opera and more. Ultimately, she became a legend, “defin[ing] the term ‘singing actress’” and changing the face of opera for decades beyond her life.

Joyce DiDonato, narrator of Maria Callas in Tom Volf’s documentary MARIA BY CALLAS, was actually the film’s catalyst towards being made. Volf saw DiDonato perform at the Met, and was immediately inspired, and then fell into a YouTube hole exploring the performances of and interviews with Maria Callas. After that, he became the “driving force” in getting the film made, as described by DiDonato. She elaborates on his fervor here:

The film is “her chance to come and be heard on her own terms,” says DiDonato. Sincerity and vulnerability were the keys to creating this film and speaking the words of Callas. DiDonato elaborates on voicing Maria Callas in this clip:

“Its humbling to watch somebody at the pinnacle,” says DiDonato, “but then we also have the obligation to see the other side of it.” DiDonato describes callas as “iconic” and names La Sonnambula as an aria that stands out as one of her greatest.

For more on Maria Callas’ life and work, visit

Click here to visit our YouTube channel and see the full Q&A!

About the film:

Tom Volf’s MARIA BY CALLAS is the first film to tell the life story of the legendary Greek/American opera singer completely in her own words. Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs—nearly all of which have never been shown to the public—the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time.

View the trailer:

Where to see it:

MARIA BY CALLAS is now playing at Angelika New York, and opens Friday 11/23 at Angelika Plano and Angelika Carmel Mountain.