An exhibition seen by millions of visitors
‘Maria Callas and Swarovski – Jewels on Stage’ is the title of an exhibition created in 2003 by Dottore Rinaldo Albanesi, Vice-President of Swarovski International at the time. In 2006 the stage jewellery displayed had already been seen by more than two and a half million visitors. Michael Hammers was asked to think about a conceptual expansion and special development of its content related to the 30th anniversary of Maria Callas’ death in 2007. “I got a call” is how Michael starts every time you ask him to tell you about a project. All right, Michael got a call! “...Let me tell you, getting the possibility to work on this was my godsend. I love music, the opera, song. I know the smell of a stage, everything that makes it its own world…and I already adored Maria Callas for her artistic life, a life without compromise.”
From the infinity of the cosmos
Michael threw himself into it all and got a hold of everything he could about Maria Callas. “Yet, where the other person should be, for me there’s an infinity in the cosmos, And it is from that point that you sing” is how the poem ends that Italian writer and director Pier Paolo Pasolini had dedicated to Maria Callas after experiencing her on stage.
It was Michael’s inspiration for an art-house film expressing his notion of the last minutes before Maria Callas died, alone in Paris, long before cast off by Aristoteles Onassis, her true love. “Her life was just a tragedy. I started holding her hand envisioning what she had, facing her life passing to death in 1977”. Michael composed a piece of music for a cello solo and made it part of his short movie “From the infinity of the Cosmos”, also using footage of growing water crystals by Dr. Masaru Emoto, who remarkably microscope-filmed a water drop “listening” to Maria Callas singing.
“Thank you for all you gave us from your heart.“
Michaels’s team created “magic vitrines”, displaying some of the most delicate jewellery in a manner never before seen. His Studios sculptured individual, three-dimensional busts just out of the thinnest stainless wires and set the jewels as if they were hovering. The fronts of the vitrines were made of special art-glass panes, showing Maria Callas wearing this jewellery while acting. “The vitrines have an inside lighting, when the light is off, you only see the picture, when the music starts, the lighting control reacts with the music staging the jewellery and that is when you can see through the image into the infinity of Maria Callas’ stage reality…” says Michael.
The exhibition was installed in January 2007 at The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and there was a wonderful opening reception. Michael was given the honour of introducing the exhibition to Mercedes Bass and at the dinner Markus Langes-Swarovski ended his speech with this toast: “Thank you Michael, for all that you gave us from your heart”.