What Is the Plot to the Movie "Callas Forever"?

by Dan Taylor

"Callas Forever" is a 2002 biographical drama about opera diva Maria Callas, who died in 1977. The movie is set in that year, when Callas was in her 50s and the voice that led her to fame had all but disappeared because of disease and age. The movie revolves around a former manager's offer to return her to fame by having her lip-sync in a new movie. Although Callas agrees initially, she feels tormented about being dishonest to her fans.

A New Opportunity

The story opens with Larry Kelly (played by Jeremy Irons), who has started to manage rock bands instead of opera stars, finding Maria Callas (Fanny Ardant) in her Paris apartment defeated and alone, wallowing in shame over the loss of her once majestic voice. The lavish lifestyle she used to enjoy is in the past and her throat has deteriorated from disease. In an effort to restore her to greatness, Kelly offers her a role in the opera film "Carmen," and suggests that she lip-sync to her old recordings. Craving the success she once enjoyed, she agrees to the role, feeling a nagging uneasiness about her decision.

Other Characters

Callas deals with a number of other personalities in the film. A young painter named Michael adores Callas. Kelly, infatuated with Michael, uses Callas to get closer to Michael by taking her to admire his paintings. Callas, meanwhile, flirts with a young man named Marco, a tenor who plays Don José alongside her in "Carmen."


Callas finds she is unfulfilled by this role, as nothing can replace the fact that her voice has left her and her best years are behind her. In one scene, Kelly comes upon Callas in her apartment taking sleeping pills and singing along with her old recording of "Madame Butterfly"; she breaks down in tears.

Spoiler: Conclusion

Callas decides she can not be dishonest with her fans, and she decides to no longer lip-sync filmed operas. She agrees to appear in the film "Tosca," but only if allowed to use her own voice, which angers the financiers of the film, prompting them to cancel the contract. Callas tells Kelly to destroy "Carmen," arguing that she would rather use her true voice, even if it drove people away.