Maria Callas dresses, jewelry on display in New York

The stage costumes, dresses and jewelry of late opera singer Maria Callas are featured in an exhibition opening Wednesday in New York.

Included in the exhibit are the dress worn by "La Divina" in the "Tosca" production directed by Franco Zeffirelli in 1965, and two dresses she wore as Violetta, the heroine of "La Traviata," sung by Callas in New York in 1956 and 1958.

The costumes are post-1953, after Callas, who as a young woman weighed 238 pounds (108 kilograms), lost 88 pounds (40 kilograms), at the request of film and theater director Luchino Visconti.

"And in 1956, she was declared one of the 10 most elegant women in the world," said collector Bruno Tosi, who discussed exhibit items ahead of the opening.

The personal belongings on display come from the collection of Tosi, president of the Maria Callas Cultural Association.

Among the other items are a blouse and a black skirt designed by Yves Saint-Laurent that Callas wore while studying at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York in 1971-72.

Since the diva's death in September 1977 at age 53, Tosi has purchased at auctions items belonging to the legendary soprano, including more than 70 letters, thousands of photographs and archived articles written about her.

He is preparing to offer his collection to the city of Venice for a museum to be named for Callas, slated to open next year.

"A Woman, a Voice, a Myth" is organized by the Italian Cultural Institute of New York in collaboration with the Consulate General of Greece and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. It runs through March 30.

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