Marina Abramović: “At 76 I live every day as if it were my last”

he Grand Theatre, Liceu Pay homage to the legendary soprano Maria Callas with Thursday’s premiere of Death of Maria Callas 7 (Seven deaths of Maria Callas)for the New York award-winning Serbian artist Marina Abramović (Belgrade, 1946). Through a performance, opera and video creation featuring chameleon actor Willem Dafoe, Abramović imagines what it was like to be the last day for the singer, who died alone at the age of 53 on September 16, 1977 in the Paris apartment where he had been living confined.

In his Barcelona debut, Abramović embodies the spirit of Callas but composed famous operas such as La traviataby Verdi or Madam Butterflyby Puccini whose career was catapulted by the sopranos Gilda Fume in turn Violetta Valerie; Vanessa Goikoetxeain Floria Tosca; Benedetta Torre He is Desdemona; Antonia Ahyung Kim will play Seo Seo San; Rinat Shaham to Carmen; Eleanor Bonilla to Lucy Ashton the hero of the story Lucy from Lammermoor And Martha Mathew He is a base. The deaths of the lyrical heroines and the death of Callas herself, to whom Abramović has turned, are the focus of the show, whose English-language script follows a story created with the writer. Peter Scafflan. Newly created music composed by Marko Nikodijevic, It does not conflict with the arias of the opera but helps everything flow between the projected images, the performance, the narration and the singing. “For opera lovers, I’m an outsider,” he said Monday at the Liceu, “I’m the one they think wants to break out of all the conventions, but I assume this role with pride.”

Abramovich, what? The work premiered at the Munich State Opera in 2020He always said that he first heard Callas on the radio when he was 14 years old in Yugoslavia. Since then, their similarities have haunted them: they share astrological signs and toxic relationships with their mothers. It also connects his way of being. She, because the Diva is so tough, can be both fragile and strong at the same time.

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“I must not deceive myself, for happiness is not mine,” said Callas in 1968, after learning about the wedding of her great love. Aristotle Onassis with the president’s widow John F. Kennedy. Abramović, who also knows heartbreak, confronted it in a more creative way. When his relationship with his partner and colleague from the ’70s ends (Frank Uwe Lessepien), the two proceed to walk the Great Wall of China from opposite vantage points to bid farewell when they meet halfway. Many years later, in 2010, when I performed the work The Artist Is Present at MOMA in New York She sat for more than 730 hours to communicate with all kinds of people just by looking, one of the volunteers who sat in front of her was her ex-boyfriend. Cameras captured the intensity of that moment.

“If you don’t take risks, if you don’t make mistakes, you won’t progress.”

“If you don’t take risks, if you don’t make mistakes, you won’t advance.” This is the philosophy of this bold artist who, at 76, connects more with a young audience than with people of her own generation. Lady Gaga and Rosalia, whom he will invite to see a show at the Liceu, are among his fans. It indicates that the admiration is mutual. I love Rosalia’s spirit And his way of mixing elements of the past and present, flamenco and other styles. I went to see her when she performed in Majorca this summer and she visited me in New York. I love young artists like her: smart, charismatic, and able to reach a lot of people.”

“mainstream” performer

When critics disowned his early work, Abramović never thought he would go this far. Who would say that the creator is annoying rhythm 0a brave bet as she lets the audience use all kinds of objects on her body for six hours, from a rose to a hammer, scissors or a razor, she will end up becoming an in-demand artist in operas all over the world.

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Critics panned his early works. But rather than get frustrated and depressed, Abramović persevered. “If I had listened to the critics, I wouldn’t be here today,” he admits. It took a long time for performance to be recognized as a “major” art. He recalled a phrase from Gandhi describing his career: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they confront you and in the end, you win.” This sentence sums up my story. It took me about 50 years to get here. It wasn’t easy.”

When Abramović speaks, he gives off brutal energy. He does not look at all the age that appears in his passport. your secret? “I never wanted to be 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 again. I suffered a lot. In adulthood, on the other hand, I feel great. Now I am wiser and understand things that I could not before. If I reach the age in good health You’re having so much fun. Now I’m happier than ever. When you get to 70, you know you’re in the last chapter and you don’t want to waste time on bullshit. You focus on what’s important and you live every day like it’s your last.”

His presentation to Maria Callas aroused tremendous interest. There are almost no tickets available for the three performances scheduled at the Liceu. “Young people come to see me. When I fill up the theatres, they ask me to do another opera. But I don’t need it. I don’t like to repeat myself. When I’m done with one thing, I go on to another completely different. I like to explore new worlds.” The next stage project will be with Belgian choreographer Damien Gallet – Currently with Madonna to prepare Celebration tourWith whom you have previously worked with Bolero at the Paris Opera where Sidi Larbi also collaborated. “We’ll do something about it. Balkan eroticism that combines dance and performance. I want to go back to my land and immerse myself in the songs and rituals of my ancient medieval culture.”

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Between fear and love, he stays with the latter. “Love is the strongest feeling that exists,” he says. “There is no need to be afraid of loving or suffering, but people today are afraid to open their souls, to feel emotions. People live surrounded by technology, without time for anything.”

Spirit of Adventure

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Although her work has always been most present in Madrid, she maintains that it was a city of her own. While still a student, he was shocked to see a reproduction of the Santa Maria caravel in which Christopher Columbus traveled to America. “At that time, it was believed that the earth was flat. That courage to embark on a journey towards the place where the world ended, towards the unknown, is the same that drives me when it comes to creation. I want to discover unknown regions and I risk everything in this search.” .

Abramović touched on all sorts of topics, such as the relationship between artist and audience, loneliness, feminism, war… After the war broke out in the Balkans, he created Balkan Baroque, an award-winning play about war and ethnic cleansing. And shortly before the war broke out in Ukraine, I was born Weeping wall crystalHuge wall commemorating the Jewish Holocaust in Ukraine in World War II. “Despite the Russian bombing,” he says, “the wall is still standing.” “If it survives, it will be useful not only to remember it but also to remember the Ukrainians who died as a result of the Russian invasion,” he added.

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