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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Callas' stage jewels go on show
Maria Callas wearing bridal jewellery from Tosca in 1956
Bridal jewellery from Callas' 1956 performances in Tosca is included
London's Royal Opera House is staging an exhibition of jewellery worn by opera diva Maria Callas for some of her most famous performances.

Included in the collection is the bridal jewellery from Tosca, which Callas performed in New York in 1956.

The singer wore pieces made by Italian jeweller Ennio Marino Marangoni during her career, after he made a crown for her debut in La Gioconda.

Sixty pieces of jewellery are displayed alongside costumes and photographs.

Some pieces are now half a century old, and have undergone restoration for the Royal Opera House exhibition.

It includes a crown which Callas wore for performances of Nabucco in Naples in 1949, a role she never sang again.

Necklaces and earrings made for a performance of La Traviata at La Scala in 1955 were accurate reproductions of genuine period jewellery insisted upon by its director, Visconti.

Exceeded estimates

A necklace and bonnet for Lucia di Lammermoor were adorned with delicate crystal pearls, while a crown worn in her Chicago performances of Norma in 1954 was designed to resemble a laurel wreath.

Callas died of a heart attack in her Paris apartment in 1977, aged 53.

Artist Marangoni only used crystals made by the Austrian family company Swarovski in his jewellery, and the firm bought the entire Callas collection in 1999.

Last year a collection of 11 pieces of Callas' jewellery fetched $1.87m (1.02m) at auction in Switzerland, triple the pre-sale estimate.

The free Royal Opera House exhibition will continue until 10 January 2006, before travelling to Prague, Brussels and New York.


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