At six o’clock this evening, nearly a hundred years after her birth, a statue honoring the legendary opera star Maria Callas will be unveiled in Roberto Galli Park, on Dionysiou Areopagitou, opposite the steps leading to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The glistening bronze figure of the late soprano is the work of Aphrodite Liti, formerly a sculptor at the National Archaeological Museum and a teacher of sculpture at the Athens School of Fine Arts.
The driving force behind this memorial is the Maria Callas Greek Society, who overcame a number of difficulties to obtain permission from the relevant authorities to erect the tribute in the park. Equally challenging was the creation of the bronze figure, which required three iterations from the sculptor: a plaster figure made in her workshop, a wax model, and the final bronze-cast form, created in the foundry of Vasilis and Nikolaos Kaparos, near the town of Thebes. Of this final stage, Liti said that: “There were days during the heat wave when I was sitting by myself in a room with the air-conditioning on full blast so that the wax model wouldn’t melt.”
As to how she captured the spirit of Callas in her work, Liti explained that she had “worshiped” the soprano’s voice from a young age, because “it had helped me slip into another world, psychologically and spiritually. When I received this commission, I studied photos of her, learned everything I could about her life, and made my own Maria Callas.” Liti cited as further influences the ancient Tanagra figurines of classical Greece and the skillful approach that El Greco had to portraying the folds of the robes on his subjects. “With the subtle inclination of her head, I tried to impart a sense of greatness and heroism, while with the elongation of the body I sought to represent a strong interior passion… At the same time, by giving weight and volume to the folds of her dress, I wanted to emphasize the great determination that characterized the whole life of this unique performer.”
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.