One of the most influential opera singers of all time would be celebrating her 100th birthday this year. Monaco celebrated Maria Callas in style during a star-studded Gala on 12 May at the Monte Carlo Opera Salle Garnier. Awards were presented to HSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco as well as Nana Mouskouri during the glittering event, held for the benefit of the Princess Charlene Foundation.
“So very proud and thankful to HSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco for Their honorary presence as well Their Awards acceptance during the Anniversary edition of the 100 Years of Maria Callas….They make this event really historic, as it was sixty years ago in the same place that this event first began,” said the Maria Callas Monaco Gala.
“Optical sculptures” designed by Marcos Marin
Over three hundred guests attended the Gala, which was kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Prince Albert and Princess Charlene. Shortly afterwards, the Princely couple took to the stage and were presented with awards by the President of the Maria Callas Gala, artist Ioanna Efthimiou.
The awards were designed by Brazilian artist Marcos Marin. Each award is an optical sculpture featuring a pop art graphic of Maria Callas. On the Opera House’s stage, several important personalities were awarded for their work in arts, culture, ecology and the environment, including singer Nana Mouskouri, Greek actress Mimi Denisi and opera artists Vassiliki Karagianni, Kristine Opolais and Victoria Buleeva.
Guests were then treated to an opera concert by the award-winning opera performers, accompanied by the Paris Orchestra with conductor Nicolas Krauze. Together, they performed a perfect, heart-felt tribute to Maria Callas.
Venue decorated with 50,000 melons!
But the evening did not end there, it continued with a charity dinner at the emblematic Salle Empire of the Hôtel de Paris. The venue was uniquely decorated with over 50,000 fresh melons, wonderfully arranged by florist Marco Traverso. A flavourful menu created by masterful chefs was served as the champagne flowed for the rest of the evening. Several surprises were revealed to guests, including a concert by cellist Benjamin Jacobs, a fashion show by designer Christina Zafeiriou accompanied by the sounds of La Divina by Maria Callas, and finally, an Art auction by Art Curial Monaco, which featured works from internationally renowned artists including Picasso’s nephew, Jacob Vilato. All proceeds from the auction were donated to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.
Gucci bag given to Maria Callas by Princess Grace on display
The event was accompanied by an exhibition of Maria Callas objects relating to her relationship with Monaco. Her Monegasque identity card, the Gucci bag given to her by Princess Grace, the gloves from the production of La Traviata and many other items, donated by the Greek collector Nikos Charalampopoulos, were on display in the Monte Carlo Opera atrium.
Sixty years ago, the event was launched in the presence of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. On stage at the time, Maria Callas herself enchanted the crowd with her unforgettable soprano voice.