Callas Forever (2002) Script

PARIS AIRPORT PARIS AIRPORT


-Mr. Kelly, where are they? -Where's who?

Where are Bad Dreams?

-Bad Dreams are probably still in bed. -We assumed you'd be on the same flight.

My office said I was arriving alone.

-We thought that meant you weren't! -So we fooled you.

Sir, why did you bring this group to Paris?

Because Paris loves the stars.

Mistinguett, Piaf, Chevalier--

-Piaf didn't urinate on her audience. -That's not what I heard.

Chevalier didn't drop his trousers and flash his ass.

-Please! Thank God. Put that in. -Aren't Bad Dreams a comedown for you?

-What do you mean? -You've presented Nureyev and Fonteyn...

Menuhin, Callas...

And don't forget Bob Dylan and the Stones.

No, but... Don't be boring. I mean, it's 1977.

The kids want groups like Bad Dreams today.

Will you be seeing Madame Callas while you're in Paris?

Maybe.

You produced her last tour, to Japan, didn't you, Larry?

-Yeah. -It was a disaster though.

The Titanic was a disaster. Have a sense of proportion.

We're not here to talk about Maria Callas. We're here to talk about Bad Dreams.

I hope you're all going to cover Wednesday's concert.

-I'll see you tomorrow at the Gare du Nord. -Are they coming on the boat train?

Yes, they're coming on the boat train... because the airlines won't take them. All right?

Thank you, gentlemen.

Do you ever get tired of all that?

All what?

All that bullshit.

Publicity is never bullshit.

-You're buzzing. -Am I?

It's this.

I've never seen a good-looking guy with one of those.

Sorry. I can't hear you flirting.

Larry Kelly.

I know.

-Larry, really sorry I'm late. -Don't worry, we were early, I think.

No problems. We've dealt with the press, so everything's good.

How was the flight?

The flight was fine.

-How are the tickets doing? -Sold out.

Good! What are the problems?

Faulty wiring at the stadium.

Don't forget to cancel dinner with Rocco tomorrow night.

What's the matter with the wiring? Get Annie to call Philip Pope in London.

When Wembley blew, he fixed it in 10 minutes.

Sure.

-I can hear you from over here. -What?

Your thing. I can hear it.

Bullshit.

Don't you just hate big cars?

Depends what happens in them.

Fancy a lift?

Why not?


When I offered to carry your bags, you didn't mention it was six flights.

Didn't I?

-Is this your work? -Yes.

I'm part of a group show here in the Place des Vosges next week.

And then I think I have a show, my own.

Only me. Coming up in Tel Aviv.

And then maybe Cape Town, where I was born.

Are you impressed?

Give me time.

Maria.

I need her voice.

Whenever I come home.

Oh, God.

You're not one of those ghastly Callas queens, are you?

Hardly.

I'm too young to have seen her perform.

-Unfortunately. -Unfortunately.

When I had my operation... to try to restore my hearing... my mother... sneaked a cassette player into the hospital room... so that the first sound...

I would hear, would be...

I don't know...

unearthly.

Beauty not of this earth.

Callas.

Callas.

Are you gonna be doing more concerts with her?

No.

Her voice is shot.

I do have plans though.

Look, I've got to go.

-Can I give you my card? -I don't want your card.

Okay.

Why don't we just have dinner tomorrow night?

-You mean a date? -What? Are you too modern for that?

I'll pick you up at 9:00.

8:00.

All right, 8:00.

But I'll be late.

Whoa!

-There is nothing! -What?

Philip, there's nothing coming out of number nine, it's dead!

-What number? -Number nine is dead, completely.

It's crackling. Will you get me a coffee?

-Okay, Larry. -It's time.

No, wait, just a minute.

How will they know about the click track if we get this working?

They'll hear it on the earphones as usual.

-And is the backing track all right? -Cheating, are we?

-Sarah! -Vocals on the soundtrack?

-I thought it was supposed to be live. -Don't you try to wind me up.

Every group does it, you know.

What are you doing here?

A magazine asked me to do an article on Wet Dreams.

-Bad Dreams! Did I okay this? -You did.

Well, I'm surprised your rag is interested.

Well, we're not at all interested in their music, it's appalling.

But their arrest record is fantastic.

Yes, well, the kids love them, and they earn a fortune.

Aren't you a bit long in the tooth to be covering a punk band?

You're not exactly a teenybopper yourself, or haven't you noticed?

-They're nice! Are they for me? -She wouldn't take them.

What?

Her maid noticed they were from you and sent them back.

She... This is your friend.

But anyway, she said that Madame Callas is sailing in the Greek islands.

That's bullshit.

She hasn't been there since Onassis died.

She does the same to me. She's canceled four lunches.

I haven't seen her in months. Friendship isn't in her repertoire.

-Do you have alight? -Brendan, give her alight.

Why are you so upset about an old has-been?

Don't you dare call her that.

-I need your arm. -What?

-Your arm. -Right.

Good God! I thought only musicians did that.

-Did what? -Shot up backstage!

It's vitamins, Sarah.

-Get her on the phone again. -Okay.

Don't throw those flowers away. We'll throw them on the stage...

-at the end of the show. Is that Bruna? -It's the maid.

Bruna, it's Larry.

Bruna, just put me through to Madame Callas, would you?

Bruna, I just want... Don't... Shit!

-A has-been? Did you ever hear her? -She was before my time.

I'm surrounded by children. Why do I always hire children?

Well, that question has been asked.

-Of course, this only proves my point. -What point?

-Point of my idea. -What idea?

Now I'm not going to tell you.

A has-been. The greatest opera singer in the world.

I could fire you for saying that. I think I will. You're fired.

Of course, you're right. You're absolutely right.

Forget the flowers, forget the phone, I should go and see her.

Did I say that?

No, but you were thinking it. Brendan, get the car.


-Signor Larry! -Tell Madame I've come to call.

-No, Madam isn't here. -No, Madam is here, I know it.

-Liar. -I'm not a liar--

Maria!

-Maria! -Bruna, who is it?

Why does he have to come in?

Signor Larry...

Bruna, I'm not accepting visitors!

Who do you think you are?

How dare you push your way into my house?

I've been trying to get in touch with you for days.

Ferruccio... see this gentleman out, please.

I just want to speak to you.

-Would you mind leaving, please? -No, I just want to speak to her.

-Sorry, madame doesn't want to see-- -Please, Ferruccio, just don't keel over.

Let go of him.

I'm sorry, it's all right. You're all right, you'll live.

Well, violence.

When a lady says she is not at home, it means she is not at home.

But, Maria, you are at home.

That is, how do you call it, a manner of speaking.

Well, in a manner of speaking, I was just passing by.

Nobody passes by Maria Callas.

Either they come to see me or they don't.

What do you want?

-I just wanted to say hello. -Okay.

Hello. Now goodbye.

And I've got something I want to talk to you about.

Another proposal?

After Japan?

Japan wasn't my idea.

-And whose idea was it then? Mine? -Yes, as a matter of fact.

The genesis... so to speak, of an idea... is immaterial.

It happened.

Japan happened.

That's enough.


There, Japan.

I keep it to remind me.

-Remind you of what? -Never to step foot on a stage again.

Now, no matter what you thought of your voice that night... the audience still loved you.

People wouldn't notice if I barked... which I almost did that night.

So... have you come to suggest another way for me to make a fool of myself?

Do you want me to join a Chinese circus... or show my derriére in public?

-I do read the papers. -That's just show business.

What I'm suggesting here is serious.

-It's revolutionary. -Don't.

It's too late. I'm no longer on the market.

Let's talk about something else.

-Tell me about yourself. -No, I--

-When did you become a hippie? -Don't play around.

-You look tired. -No, I'm fine.

-Do you eat enough? -Yes, I eat enough.

-Doesn't anyone take care of you? -I don't need anyone to take care of me.

-You need a proper boyfriend, you know? -Well...

-Have you met someone? -Maybe.

Thank God. Gossip. I'd like details, please.

-Bruna! -No, I thought you wanted me to leave.

I do. But later.

-Bruna, bring Mr. Kelly some tea, please. -Yes, right away.

-And it turned out he was an artist. Painter. -What's his name?

I don't know.

-But he's hearing-impaired. -What do you mean?

He doesn't hear very well. He's a little deaf.

You mean he doesn't have to listen to you.

As a matter of fact, he listens to you. He's got all your records.

-Can he hear them? -Yeah, he wears the thing.

You mean...

No, a little thing that, you know, sits in there.

But you can't see it.

He'd better be attractive. Is he?

Bravo.

What are they doing up there?

-You practicing? -Practicing for what?

Singing. This piano's out of tune.

-You're an opera singer, for Christ's sake. -I told you, I don't want to sing again.

Are you deaf like your friend?

Maria, what are you going to do? Just vegetate here?

Come on. There's a whole new generation out there who's never seen you.

They've missed their chance.

-Why don't you give them a second chance? -Please.

Don't speak to me about a second chance.

-Did Icarus have a second chance? -No, but--

No, he flew too close to the sun and into the water.

But what if Icarus, if he'd had artificial wings?

-What do you mean? -Well, the world is changing, Maria.

We have to change with it. There are new technologies we can use.

"Callas Forever."

What a title.

What I plan to do is to film you singing your most famous roles... and match it to the soundtrack you made on your old recordings... when your voice was in its prime.

Now, technically that's perfectly possible.

I've laid it all out in here. Do me a favor.

Take it to bed tonight and read it and tell me what you think.

I know what it is.

-I know why you look different. -Come on.

-You dye your hair. -Maria, don't change--

Callas forever! Don't humiliate me!

-There is no Callas. -Jesus Christ!

I denounce Maria Callas!

And please, let me alone, I have so many things to do.

I'm supposed to be on holiday.

I have to leave tomorrow for Sicily and then the Greek islands. Bruna!

Are the suitcases packed?

And then in several months...

I am to visit Egypt. I want to see the Pyramids again.

-Yeah? -Make sure you don't forget anything!

You're still here? What are you waiting for?

You think there is still money to be made off me?

I don't entertain leeches.

I don't know why I am here. I've got a band opening tomorrow night.

They may eat chicken heads on-stage... but at least they want to work. They're professional.

Professional? They piss on the audience!

Come on, Maria.

It doesn't matter how long it is since I've seen you, you haven't changed one jot.

You're still a stupid stubborn cow.

How dare you speak to me like that?

-Get out! -All right.

-Don't dare set foot in my house ever again! -Don't worry!

Do you hear me?

I don't ever want to see you again!

Bad Dreams wants ice cream flown in from America.

-Good, get it. -But where do we send it?

What do you mean?

They've just been thrown out of the Ritz. They wrecked four suites and a news stand.

Have they? Good for them! Rock stars are easy, believe me.

Compared with divas they are com-fucking-paratively easy!

Hello?

-Lovely. -How's your omelet?

-It was fine. -Good.

Didn't expect to eat alone. I thought we might be going out.

I don't go out. Out is overrated.

What about fresh air, sunshine?

This is Paris, the most beautiful city in the world.

What's a city?

Just a place.

It's not home.

Don't be ridiculous, Maria, this is your home.

You've been here for 20 years.

I don't have a home.

I lived in Italy many years as well.

And Greece, and America.

Do you think I've ever been attached to a place... a country?

I don't speak correctly any language.

I don't know who I am.

I was born Maria Kalogeropoulou.

And now I'm Maria Callas.

And I'm neither one.

I just float.

Well, that's a very interesting rendition of Chekhov, thank you.

But why don't you just float over here and sit down and have some food.

I'm not interested in food.

What was that for?

Something or other. Does it matter?

There hasn't been a reason... not a single reason... to leave this house since he died.

I need a better frame for this.

-He is beautiful, isn't he? -Beautiful? Onassis?

Were you wearing your glasses when you looked at him?

I saw the beauty. She didn't.

Mrs. Kennedy.

She never understood him.

You never understood him either, Maria.

He was a shit and you know it.

Turned you into a slave on that stupid boat.

Just lying in the sun, no piano, no practicing... losing your voice.

And losing all your friends.

Let's not argue. I don't have the energy.

Sarah!

I'm naked, for Christ's sake!

-I have to talk to you. -Don't reporters knock?

-No, never. -What do you want?

-Just five minutes. -Later.

If you want to talk about the concert last night.

-They were great, weren't they? -If you like self-mutilation.

-It's not them. This is serious. -A massage is serious.

It's Maria I'm here about. She needs your help.

Look...

Excuse me. This is private.

If you've got something to say, say it.

The feet, please.

-You've got no idea how tense I get. -We have to get her out of that apartment.

So hire a forklift.

Bruna tells me she's up all night, every night, listening to her recordings.

And taking pills. A lot of them. God knows what they are.

-Do you have a light anywhere? -Sarah, please!

Sorry.

-I saw what you sent. I read your proposal. -What?

I think it's a marvelous idea.

I mean, it might just work. It could give her back her life.

Of course it would work. You tell her that, not me.

Yeah, but look, listen to me. She doesn't eat.

She's wasting away.

She's in mourning for her voice... for her career, for Onassis.

It's like the last act of one of her damned operas.

And she's only 53. Larry, you have to help her.

I'm not a Good Samaritan.

-Don't you care what happens to her? -No, absolutely not.

Jesus, Sarah!

-What was that for? -For lying.

If you can't sleep, you should phone her.

Sarah.

Is it 2:00?

I'm sorry.

Listen...

Where does she get the pills?

Yeah, but who gives them to her?

Yeah, all right.

All right, Sarah, I'll...

I'll talk to Bruna when I get back from Hamburg.

Okay.

I'm sorry.

I woke her up.

She was not pleased.


Mr. Larry, please leave. Let's go.

Madam!

That's enough, madam!

Enough, madam, come rest.

Come, don't cry.


-What would you like? -An espresso, please.

Good.

Here you are, sir.

-Sugar. -Thanks.


Good morning.

What are you doing here?

I've made you some breakfast.

With a little bit of help from Bruna.

-Up-a-daisy, come on, it's 2:00. -Bruna.

It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing.

You can't spend all your time in bed.

There.

Go on. Drink your coffee.

Better now?

Maria, your friends are very worried about you.

You do know you have friends, don't you?

Have you ever really trusted anybody else? I mean, really trusted?

Well... if you have, I want you to trust me today.

No questions. Just trust me.

I beg you, Maria.

I actually beg you.

Think about it, finish your breakfast.

I want to see Maria Callas again.

Afternoon, Madame Callas.

You all right?

-Good morning, sir. -Good morning.

Good morning, sir.

We're going in here.

Sarah! What are you doing here?

-Maria! -Oh, my God!

-Gerard! -What a beauty.

I'm very suspicious if my record company is present.

-You're absolutely sublime. -You're charming.

-What is this? -A conspiracy.

Come and sit down, Maria.

-We have a surprise for you. -A surprise?

Madame Callas, would you like a coffee? -No, thanks.

-And you, ma'am? -Yes.

Roll the film.

-Is this a joke? -There's something wrong with the sound.

What's wrong with the sound?

-Deal with the soundtrack. -You invaded my house... virtually kidnapped me... so you could bring me here to watch the most shameful performance I've ever given.

How could you do this to me?

You're wrong, and if you'd wait till they fix the sound...

-you'll find you've never sounded better. -You're mad. He's completely mad!

-It was a mistake. -Maria. Come and sit down.

Go again.


I told you so. You've never been in better voice.

I was in terrible voice, you know that. What have you done?

What kind of trick is it?

The concert is of course your Japanese concert.

But the sound comes from a recording you made 22 years ago.

All we've done is we've married the sound to the picture.

It's simple.

But it's dishonest.

Why?

-But it's not me singing. -What?

Then who is it? Renata Tebaldi.

No, Maria, it's your image, it's your voice.

It has to be you.


I'm very confused.

Am I selling my soul to Satan?

This is 1977, Satan is redundant.

Anyhow, in theory he can make you live forever.

Vampires live forever.

If anyone qualifies as a vampire it's me.

Why do you say that?

I'm ajournalist, remember? We suck blood.

Because, of course, we can't sing... or dance, or paint, or whatever.

I'd give anything to be Maria Callas.

You are and you don't want to be.


They came last night, my phantoms...

Medea, Violetta, Norma.

But one in particular is haunting me.

Who?

Carmen.

You know, I never sang her on-stage.

I only recorded her.

I never completed her.

And maybe...

No, I shouldn't say it, it's too crazy.

Maybe Carmen could be the exception.

It would be fresh. I wouldn't be dredging up the past.

And perhaps it could work.

-Perhaps? -Yes, perhaps.

Maria, no more perhaps, no more maybes...

I need a yes.

No...

It's not a hard word to say, yes. Y-E-S, yes.

You know it, you can say it. You can form the words. Please.

All right.

Yes!

You're sure?

Well I...

Yes.

I have your guarantee?

Yes.

Then it's the most beautiful "yes" in the world... and you are the most beautiful woman in the world.

The first film that we propose... is a role Madame Callas has never performed on-stage.

It's also one of the most... popular operas in the world.

Carmen.

I've already spoken to the distinguished Spanish filmmaker, Esteban Gomez...

-who is very keen to direct. -Callas is really committed?

Carmen is her idea?

Come on, she's famous for reneging on contracts--

Peter, come on.

I've known and worked with Maria Callas for many years, as you know well.

She is a consummate artist. In fact, in my experience... her record of honoring her commitments is better than many.

Nevertheless, we're gonna need some guarantees here.

But I'm your guarantee. She is my guarantee.

I've never before put up money into my own projects.

But since I am so convinced of the importance... and indeed good investment of this particular project...

I am putting up 50% of the initial capital.

So, what we are offering is involvement in what could turn out... to be one of the greatest cultural events of the 20th century.

Maria Callas on film.

The greatest opera star the world has ever seen... singing her greatest roles.

These films could open up... a whole new generation to her work.

After Carmen... we will film her other great roles: Traviata, Norma, Tosca.

And with the emergence of the new market in video-cassette players... it won't only be the sales of her records that will go through the roof... but the sales of her videos.

And the royalties from those, gentlemen... will keep many of us warm in our old age.

INTERNATIONAL FILM AND MUSIC STUDIO

It'll be all right.

-There he is. -Maria! You're looking wonderful.

You didn't tell me the press would be here.

I'm sorry, I tried to avoid this.

Either they go or I go.

I can't ask them to leave. You're gonna have speak to them sometime.

You can handle them.

This way!

Madame Callas has nothing to say.

Madame Callas, is this your big comeback?

It could be.

Why did you change your mind?

Because I'm a woman, and a woman can change her mind.

Are you gonna make a movie or what?

No. Stop pushing, please!

Please, don't push!

When will you sing again at La Scale?

When the Milanese public learns better manners.

How much money are you getting?

Use your mind a bit, if you have one.

-Have you signed a contract? -I don't want to talk about this.

Would you like to sing the part of Isolde?

I'm not fat enough.

Madame Callas, do you have a percentage of the profits?

Frankly, my dear, why would I tell you?

You haven't come to terms yet about my percentage, have you?

I'm glad they reminded me. You must always have the press around.

Come on.

From the top of the Habanera please, Antoine.

-Is everything to your satisfaction? -Yes.

-I'm sorry. -Hold it.

You know, I need to know where I took a breath.

-It's very simple. -Show me.

I'll try, I'll do my best.

Once more, Antoine, please.

Madame, could you also remove your necklace?

-Yes, of course. -Thank you.

-I'm ready. -Thank you.


Yes! It works!

Marvelous!

Actually, this is very difficult.

I have to really sing along to the tape, I can't just move my lips.

-Isn't that right? -Yes, even though nobody will hear it.

So that really everything, the vocal cords... the muscles of the neck, the diaphragm...

-everything is singing. -Exactly.

Which means also, when we cast...

Escamillo et Don Jose, they must be able to sing... even if we will not be hearing their voices. Am I correct?

Si, Maria. But first... we must find actors who have the right look.

Beautiful actors.

When can we start seeing people?

-Tomorrow morning at noon, if you like. -I'll be there.


Beautiful voice. Interesting.

And if he's able to match...

Eugene, you think there's no problem with the match, matching it?

-I think he'll be fine. -Okay.

Music and action!


-Studio. -It's Michael. Is Larry there?

I'm sorry, Michael, he's not here yet.

Hang on, he's just arriving. Hold on.

-Arrested? -I'll go call the minister.

-Larry. -Who is it?

-It's the painter. -Michael.

It's a madhouse here. I just got in from Florence.

Everything's in chaos. Just post bail.

What? I can't hear you.

Forget bail, he's just the drummer.

Listen, why don't you come on over?

I didn't forget, {just didn't know how to get in touch with you.

-Larry, I-- -Jump in a taxi.

I'll see you in a minute. I can't hear a word.

I'll see you later, big kiss. Bye.

-That shawl, it's way too small! -What is going on? They're waiting.

-What the hell is going on? -Yes.

-I've no wig, no costume. -She doesn't need a wig.

How do you expect me to rehearse like this?

You have a rehearsal costume and you look wonderful.

-You're nervous 'cause it's the first scene. -Nervous? I'm terrified.

Why?

All the men of Sevilla are waiting for Carmen!

-Well? -Desiring her! Look at me!

How can I fulfill that at my age?

You're wonderful and you're ageless.

Ageless is a nice word for decrepit.

What? Are you saying that a mature person cannot attract a young man?

Larry, the minister is waiting.

-Are you? -Maria, I've got an extraordinary idea.

In this scene I put Escamillo.

What?

Yes, he is Spain's greatest matador, and he wants Carmen.

That's a clever touch. Something Bizet didn't think of.

Let's try it.

Come on then.


-I'm looking for Larry. -Well, he's not here, is he?

-Do you know where he is? -In a meeting.

So what else is new?

And now comes the moment of destiny... when Carmen sees Don Jose for the first time.

Where is he? Where did you place him? There.

Good Lord!

Even more handsome in a soldier's uniform.

He is the only man in Sevilla who ignores her.

And she's attracted by that?

The danger of it, like in a bullfight... the bravery of the matador... is almost a dance of death.


Come on, Maria, let's go practice.

So you remember?

It's very important to keep your shoulders back... back, your chest raised.

Suck in your stomach so that everyone looks at you.

Okay? Come on. Now... keep this position, but we'll pick up the skirts, okay?

No, remember? Don't bend over. There.

Come on. Nothing. There.

Come on, there it is, there.

With the right. One and two.

And one, and two, let's go, keep your head up... and two, lower your shoulders watch your arms... make that beautiful expression as if you were looking at the man of your dreams.

Get him. Get your man!

So here we are. Really use those skirts. There, that's it.

Look at her eyes, she's just loving it.

No, stop. It's not good.

Again, please, again. Music!

One, two, three, four, five, six.

No!

She's in a good form. No, I don't know when I could do that.

I have the notes somewhere, but...

Music!

Marvelous! Wonderful! All right, thank you very much, Maria.

That's wonderful, but now we're going to take a break.

Take a break?

We have union rules, we have to stop.

I don't care about the rules.

I'll call you back.

I don't tolerate laziness!

If you want to work with Maria Callas... you must be ready to work day and night. Do you understand?

I don't care about Maria Callas!

I can't be surrounded with people with stopwatches.

Every move I make, every gesture must be perfect!

If I can't be a perfect gypsy I will not go on with this project.

I didn't realize this was an amateur production!

Please, don't say that--

-Go back to your Bad Dreams! -Will you can it?

I should have known this was a third-rate operation!

-It's not. You're an ungrateful bitch! -You are a tacky, stupid producer!

-Shyster! -Stop shouting at me!

Son of a bitch!

I've missed it.

A good crisis, a good tantrum. I've been so bored.

I'm exhausted.

No, I'm not. I'd like to do something.

Let's go out. We never go out.

What about a dinner?

-You're not free? -Could I bring Michael?

-Michael? -My friend.

Now you know his name. My God, it must be serious.

He's dying to meet you.

I'd like to meet him. I will be ready in five minutes.

All right. Put on something.

Chanel.

MY God!

It's exactly like the first act of Bohéme.

Your paintings...

Wonderful red. I adore red.

It's beautiful.

-It's you. -What?

It's what I feel when I hear you.

Because I feel colors... vibrations... waves of sound, woven into the air.

He's very good, this boy.

I want to show you something very special to me.

This is my favorite:

Norma.

The splendor of the moon... with that incredible music of Caste Diva... a feeling of peace... and serenity.

You know that sometimes...

I have visions inside my head.

You've read my heart.


Are you saying Bad Dreams don't want to go to Korea... because they eat dogs?

Look, they're a rock band, for fuck's sake, they're not gourmets.

Fuck them.

I can't be bothered with them. I'm trying to edit a film here.

I've got a very nervous leading lady.

-Have a seat. -Good morning.

-Hi, welcome. -I can't wait to see it.

It's just very early stages, it's just a rough cut.

-And we just finished it now. -Finished this morning?

-Yeah. -Right.

Go on.


Esteban, it's really spectacular. It looks like something out of MGM.

It's a real gypsy atmosphere.

That's why I brought the gypsies from Spain.

Where's Carmen?

Now she's coming.

Here she comes.

I love that red shawl.

Red's your favorite color.

Very sexy.


Bravo, Esteban.

Thank you so much!

She dances like a Spanish one!

And, you know, Lucia told me gypsies dance to relieve their tension.

And I know that Carmen is very tense.

Yes, because she doesn't know if Don Jose will come or not.

She asks the cards. The cards never lie.


My God!


Perfect sync.

-What's his real voice like? -Very good.

-Who's he studied with? -Michelangelo.

-Shut up, please. -Sorry.


Who is it?

It's Marco.

I just wanted to say thank you.

What on earth for? They're beautiful!

What pretty flowers!

My favorite color.

Please sit down.

Bruna, why don't you find a nice vase for these beautiful flowers?

And I'm not taking visitors.

-All right, madam. -I want to speak uninterrupted to Marco.

Please sit down.

May I ask you a question, Madame Callas?

Of course.

Do you think I will be able to sing Jose... one day... with my own voice? I mean in an opera house?

Yes, it's very possible. You know, your voice has... a beautiful quality.

If you study well, and watch your breathing... if you remember what I showed you.

I will never forget.

Have a drink, please.

I don't usually drink.

It helps the voice if you relax every so often.

Thank you. Cheers.

So, your parents were upset when you left?

Ours is wine country.

They've worked in the vineyards for generations.

They expected you to stamp on grapes?

I suppose.

But you are meant to stamp on other things.

Come on.

You are a very handsome man.

You must have a string of broken hearts lying behind you.

No, not that many.

But you are meant to break hearts. That is your destiny.

Tell me a little bit more about yourself.

Haven't you left something out?

I don't understand.

Isn't there someone you haven't mentioned?

Let me guess.

A girlfriend, perhaps.

-Yes, I've known her since-- -You were children.

No, teenagers.

And I suppose... you are faithful to her?

Because someday... you plan to marry her?

Yes, that's the idea.

But that's a long way off.

I'm not ready to marry yet.

So many things have to happen still in my life... so many things to experience... so much to discover.


I don't know what I'm saying. It's the brandy.

I'm not used to it myself.

Where's Bruna? Bruna!


We have to work together.

And at the end of the day... work is the only thing that counts.

But, madame...

It's been a long day. I'll see you tomorrow.


-You all right? -It was a triumph, wasn't it?

It was magnificent.

-A triumph is worse than a failure. -What?

-If the price is too high. -What are you on about now?

It is like Faust, isn't it?

You know Faust. He won back his youth.

So did I. The sound of my youth.

Come on, you only know Faust because he's a character in an opera.

-He's fiction, not real. -It was a fraud.

-Carmen was a fraud. -Yeah, all right! Yes!

Only in the way all performance art is a fraud.

When you were giving those great performances before... weren't you standing in front of painted scenery?

-Yes, but-- -Yes, and when you played Medea... when you were deciding to murder your children... weren't you looking at a man standing in front of you... with a stick in his hand conducting an orchestra?

I mean, what's real about that? It's all a fake.

But you gave it its own truth, Maria.

-That is the same thing with Carmen. -No!

What does it matter if it's a young voice if it works?

And it does work.

It's given you a second chance. You should take hold of it... you should damn well take hold of it, and stop all this bloody nonsense.

I don't want to have to worry about you when I'm gone.

Gone?

I've got to do my column from New York for six months...

-and I leave on Wednesday. -Then, goodbye.

I'll miss you.

I'll miss you.

-Oh, you... -I'll miss you.

I'm sure you're right.

And you don't have to worry about me.

I'm back on... What is it in English?

-On the trail? -Track.

Whatever.

-What on earth? -Traviata.

-I know it's Traviata. -Our next project.


-I thought he was gonna do it last night. -So what are you saying?

-But you said he would. -Get Rocco to deal with it.

I mean he's got to sign it. Rocco's the man.

-I'll take care of it. -Call Rocco.

-See you. -I'll be back later.

You're looking good. So, why do we have to meet in the car?

No telephones, no assistants running around.

-Sounds ominous. -Why is she picking him up?

Okay, what's the problem?

I can't do Traviata.

-You changed your mind overnight? -I never promised.

Do you have any explanation? ls there a reason?

Listen to me. You're a professional, you understand.

I've said everything I have to say about Violetta.

Yeah, but--

The same is true of Norma, Lucia, and Medea.

Carmen, no. Carmen was different.

But forget the others. Let's stop now.

What are you gonna do for the rest of your life?

Rot away in that stinking apartment?

-If I choose. It's my life. -And you've chosen.

Fine. Thank you. Ferruccio, stop the car.

-Stop the car here, I'm getting out. -Where are you going?

I'm going to spend my time with real, live people.

-We are in the middle of traffic. -I'd rather get run over than stay here.

Larry, stop!

-Taxi! -Larry!

Perhaps, there is Tosca.

Tosca?

I've never had a picnic before. It's really very pleasant.

You can observe people.

Cut to the chase.

What do you mean?

You didn't bring me here to listen to the birds.

Maria Callas doesn't arrange a picnic in the middle of the Bois de Boulogne... with hampers and sandwiches unless she wants to soften me up.

So what is it? Come on.

Are we going to do Tosca or are we not?

I had so many problems with Tosca.

-I did it so many times, and perhaps I-- -That was fun while it lasted.

Tosca was in production for two minutes. Even for you, that's a record.

-Don't waste a good chicken sandwich. -So that's what this charade's all about?

To tell me you can't do Traviata... but instead you can do Tosca, but actually you can't do Tosca.

I could kill you.

Come on, sit down. Please.

I've been thinking seriously... about singing Tosca again.

-Singing? -I'm only 53.

There are people giving concerts who are almost 80.

Carmen was a great experience for me.

I found the excitement again... of making something, of creating.

I rediscovered my soul.

I'd given it away long before...

in exchange for what?

I've wasted so many good years.

-Maria, I-- -Maybe it's not too late.

Tosca may be the role I'm still able to perform.

But this time without your tricks.

I must be Callas again, but Callas as she is today.

-I understand, but-- -Of course, I must work on my voice... and re-explore the character.

Maybe I should do some sort of workshop.

I've changed so much since I played Tosca.

We will see if I have the voice.

I want to try.

Do you think I'm crazy?

Not crazy. It just turns my idea on its head.

But, Maria, you must be prepared for people to say that--

There's time.

I'm asking you to trust me.

Okay.

No, just a small group.

Students, you know.

Just some people she can bounce off new ideas.

She's played Tosca a hundred times before. She wants to find something new.

It won't cost us anything.

It's an extension of what we normally do. It's a rehearsal.

When she's discovered something, then we'll shoot.

All right. I look forward to seeing you there.

Yes, bye.

It's me.

-I'd kill for a Scotch. -It's on the side of the bed.

The ice has probably melted by now.

I'm sorry I'm so late.

I've spent the day trying to persuade Philistines... that art is a good investment, and I succeeded.

This is so good.

-What are you doing? -Packing.

Why?

-My show in Tel Aviv is next week. -Next week?

-I told you four times. -Yeah, but...

It's always the people who can hear that don't listen.

When are you gonna be back?

I don't know. I have shows in Amsterdam and Cape Town as well.

-Places. -Yeah, but that...

I'm gonna see you again, aren't I?

Who knows?

Did I fuck up?


What you must bear in mind is that... at the end of the second act...

Tosca kills another human being.

What brings her to this?

Every time I've played Tosca...

I have, in my mind... plunged that knife into a different person.

Someone that I hated at that moment.


Tosca, finally mine!

Damn you!

-This is Tosca's kiss! -Help! I'm dying!

Die, wretched one! Die!

Die!

He's dead!

Before him... all Rome trembled!

She's still possessed by him.

When she sleeps, she dreams of him.

When she's awake, she feels his touch.

How can she break the spell?

Death.

Death can free her.

Only God can judge them both.

Are you trying to tell us that Callas will only film Tosca... if she can sing in her own voice?

Exactly.

Her voice is unusable. It's sad, but it's true.

But the voice doesn't matter. It's the performance that matters.

We should film Tosca with Maria as she is today.

-With the voice that she has today. -The voice does matter, Larry.

There was a voice. The audience expects to hear that voice.

-Gerard. -Mais, it's opera.

Opera is voice. Opera is music.

But there's other kinds of music.

There's the music in the head.

There's the music in the heart.

There is unnameable music.

You are all deaf.

Frankly, gentlemen, I am surprised... she agreed to do any of this project in the first place.

But let's look at the bright side.

We have the Carmen special... and the sales of her records will go through the roof.

-Larry, your coat. -Yeah.

Maria, it doesn't matter that they didn't understand.

There are other sources. I've got other backers.

We can take the project somewhere else.

-We've got to do it. -They are not wrong.

That is the first thing you must say to yourself... that they are not wrong.

No matter how much I refine my knowledge... the truth is, there is no voice.

But does that matter?

-No. -Yes... because once there was a voice.

There was such a voice.

But you have other things.

No. Listen to me. You have, we--

We have to face the fact that we are older.

Both of us.

Have you lost money?

That doesn't matter.

I'll make some of it back on Carmen.

What?

No, what were you going to say?

-Say it. -I can't.

-Come on, say it. -I have no right.

Maria, be straight with me. Come on, just say it.

Destroy Carmen.

Carmen?

No, you can't. You've got no right. Carmen is beautiful.

I know.

Carmen is some of the best work you've ever done. It's a legacy.

In a hundred years' time, it will be there.

People will say, "There!


"There.

"That was Callas."

But it's not honest.

It's a fake.

I'm willing to admit, a magnificent fake, but still a fake.

And maybe no one watching it will realize that. But I'll know.

I understand that technology can create the most extraordinary illusions.

But what I had was never an illusion.

If it was nothing else, it was honest.

Even on a bad night, on a really awful night... when you wanted to close your ears... and hide your eyes, it was honest.

And now you are asking me to end my career... by announcing that...

Maria Callas was, after all, a fraud?

You want my legacy to be... the opposite of everything I ever stood for.

I know why I hate integrity.

It's great for the person who has it...

but it's pure hell for those around it.

Sure, it's admirable.

You know perfectly well I own half of Carmen.

All right, I'll make sure that it's never shown.

What do you want now? My kidneys, my liver?

Thank you.

Will you take me to my car?


Michael sent this.

-Ah. -Ah, indeed.

Why don't we walk?

I need to walk.

-God answers prayers, you know? -Does he?

Yes. Contrary to popular belief.

The problem is we ask for the wrong things.

I hated Maria Kalogeropoulou.

I wanted to be Maria Callas instead. And for a time I was.

Perhaps I should have simply asked to be a woman.

And maybe, my friend, instead of juggling artists... and performance dates, and continents, and an occasional roll in the sack... you should have simply asked to be a man.

But then, how happy would we have been?

As just a woman, a man, as nothing extraordinary.

As it is... we both gave everything and received... for a time, everything, almost.

So it goes...

-What on earth are you doing? -Sorry.

Wipe your eyes, please.

I'm sorry.

You used to dress better.

What do you mean? This is a very expensive jacket.

This look costs a bloody fortune.

What will you do now?

Have I bankrupted you?

I'm all right.

I still have Bad Dreams, as it were.

I thought maybe... having the Bolshoi Ballet dance Spartacus in the Roman Colosseum.

Whatever.

Maybe none of the above.

Perhaps I'll go to Tel Aviv or Cape Town and see an art show.

I don't know. Maybe I'll just stay home and read books.

I think I'll walk some more.

It's a beautiful day.

What will you do?

Don't ask questions that can't be answered.

Maria Callas, born Kalogeropoulou, died on 16 September 1977.

"The events depicted in this film belong to both the fantasy of the author and the memories of his longstanding friendship with Maria Callas. "