Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Maria Callas was a Diva, a word that's been devalued these days (pop divas, I ask you!) Her voice could be a little rough and raw at times but her passionate acting in all her famous roles evened everything out.

On the 2nd of August, 1947, she debuted in "La Gioconda" wearing a crystal and pearl crown designed and crafted by the Atelier Marangoni of Milan. Maria, like a lot of singers, was superstitious and from that first triumph in Verona, always insisted on wearing the specially designed Marangoni and Swarovski creations for her stage roles. There was a golden wreath for the Druid Priestess in Norma, a renaissance-style cabochon crystal corsage for Anna Bolena and this magnificent tiara, necklace and earrings (weighing three and a third pounds) worn by Callas for her Metropolitan Opera debut in 'Tosca' in 1956.

Ennio Marangoni started to design and produce stage jewellery after WW2 and in the 1950s and 1960s created, for the Opera world wide, magnificent stage jewells using only crystals and pearls from the Austrian firm of Swarovski.

In 1956 Callas appeared on the 'Ed Sullivan Show' to sing selections from 'Tosca' but the crystals sparkled so brightly under the studio lights that she was only able to wear the earrings.

In 2008, the set was loaned to the Los Angeles Opera for a revival of 'Tosca'. Atelier Marangoni joined the Swarovski group in l999 and the company now owns this set of Callas jewells valued at $US85,000.

The set was designed to be worn during the second act of 'Tosca'. Floria Tosca is determined to sacrifice herself to the evil Baron Scarpia in return for the life of her true love, the artist Mario Cavaradossi. She sings the aria 'Vissi d'Arte' before she picks up the knife to kill Scarpia rather than submit to his demands.
This is the youtube of her Covent Garden performance but without this jewellery.

The Swarovski Company arranged an exhibition of her stage jewells which is travelling the world. "Maria Callas & Swarovski: Jewells on Stage" showcases her roles from 1947 to 1961 but unfortunately isn't likely to be coming to Australia.
I wouldn't mind a browse through the archive of the Atelier Marangoni which contains over 14,000 peices of jewellery and fashion accessories including more than 500 pieces of stage jewellery.


Brian Hughes said...

""Maria Callas & Swarovski: Jewells on Stage" showcases her roles from 1947 to 1961 but unfortunately isn't likely to be coming to Australia."

I have a suspicion it won't be coming anywhere near Fleetwood either...

JahTeh said...

WHAT!!!! Not going to the cultural centre of the Universe!!!!

I'm shocked beyond belief.

JahTeh said...

Stuffed up the youtube link, sorry opera lovers.

Jayne said...

Absolutely gorgeous.

River said...

Maria Callas certainly was a striking looking woman.

JahTeh said...

Jayne, I've been told there is a shop at Chadstone that sells Swarovski crystal beads. For once, I'm glad I'm poor.

River, it still didn't stop her from chosing two lousy blokes in her life.