Toledo Symphony and the Stranahan Theater Bring Maria Callas Back to Stage with Hologram Technology

Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 6:30 pm

Today, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) and the Stranahan Theater announced they will bring Maria Callas (b. 1923 – d. 1977), one of the greatest operatic sopranos of the 20th century, back to the concert stage—50 years after her final performance and 42 years after her death—in a special, one-night-only Spotlight Event on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, 8 PM at the Stranahan Theater.

The concert will be a co-production between the Toledo Symphony and the Stranahan Theater and Great Hall, in celebration of the Stranahan’s 50th Anniversary. The TSO performed at some of the then-Masonic Auditorium’s initial concerts in 1969, so the collaboration is rooted in history.

Made possible through cutting-edge, 3D digital and laser technology by BASE Hologram, the leading producer of holographic-based live entertainment, audience members will hear and, more impressively, see Maria Callas in all her original glory.

“Hologram technology first came to concert stages about ten years ago, but technological limitations made the experience less than stellar,” says Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “This production from BASE Hologram, however, is really exceptional. The life-sized Callas will walk on stage and appear right in front of our wonderful orchestra. She will reveal the unmatched poise and grace that made her a living legend. Those in the audience will be able to feel the drama that inspired Callas’s nickname, ‘La Divina,’ including her ferocious passion and heartbreaking vulnerability. It will be a spellbinding performance for opera fans as well as those who are curious about hologram technology.”

Callas in Concert is directed by Creative Director Stephen Wadsworth—a veteran of Callas’s performances, including those at famed opera houses like La Scala, the Met, and Covent Garden. Wadsworth also directed Terrence McNally’s 1995 play, Master Class, about a fictional master class that Maria Callas gave toward the end of her life.

The TSO and Stranahan’s production will not just be a replay of her iconic performances of Bellini, Bizet, Verdi, and Puccini. The virtual Maria Callas will also interact with a live conductor and respond to the reactions of a live audience.

“There’s no denying that it will be different from a typical concert experience,” says Felecia Kanney, Director of Marketing for the Toledo Symphony. “The human mind is amazing, though. Within a few minutes, audience members will undoubtedly acclimate, suspend disbelief, and just be able to take in what is happening before them. It will be captivating to say the least.”

“As we begin our 50th year of operations, and celebrate the history of this Regional Entertainment Venue for the next 12 months, we want to touch on as many forms of entertainment as we possibly can. This collaborative effort with the TSO and the interesting twist that this affords is why it is so appealing,” said Stephen Hyman, Executive Director of the Stranahan Theater and Great Hall.

“Arts organizations are known for being creative, of course, but they aren’t always known for being innovative,” says the TSO’s Vassar. “This performance will use some of the world’s most advanced video technology in a way that seems completely natural to the concert audience. I’m proud to partner with Steve and his team at the Stranahan to show our community that we aren’t afraid to push the envelope a bit.”

Callas in Concert is one of three Spotlight Events scheduled for the TSO’s 2019-2020 season. The other Spotlight Events include violinist Itzhak Perlman and rock star Ben Folds. Subscribers to any of the TSO’s 2019-2020 concert series can purchase tickets to Spotlight Events, including Callas in Concert, now through the Toledo Symphony Box Office at 1838 Parkwood Avenue, by calling 419.246.8000, or by visiting toledosymphony.com/listenup. Single tickets for Callas in Concert, with prices starting at $25, go on sale to the general public on May 1.

“Maria Callas left a forever-lasting impact on the world of opera and was the epitome of diva,” says Kanney. “She is still one of classical music's best-selling vocalists and, arguably, the greatest soprano that has ever lived. Toledo audiences will now have a chance to experience her artistry—visually and aurally—through this remarkable performance.”

For more information about Callas in Concert, please contact Felecia Kanney, Director of Marketing for the Toledo Symphony at fkanney@artstoledo.com or visit toledosymphony.com/listenup.

TOLEDO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is a community-supported organization of professional musicians and teachers who deliver quality performance and music education for all.

Formed in 1943 as The Friends of Music and incorporated in 1951 as the Toledo Orchestra Association, Inc., the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has grown from a core group of twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra that employs sixty-five professional musicians who consider the Toledo Symphony their primary employer, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands.

On January 1, 2019, the Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony officially merged to form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), a new non-profit organization dedicated to providing exceptional live music and dance performances and education for the region. This partnership promises to create new and invigorating programs, provide cost and revenue synergies in operations, and integrate the arts through shared educational missions.

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