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Throughout her 25-year career, she covered the richly diverse genres of traditional music of her native Sardinia (Cantu a chiterra, ninne nanne—children's lullabies, gosos, Gregorian chants, and more), often updating them with a modern and personal touch. She succeeded in bringing Sardinian folk music into wider popular awareness, in demonstrations at a national level in Italy (like the Canzonissima in 1974) as well as internationally (especially in France and the United States).
She caught the attention of such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, who gave her the first two of her widely seen film roles as the mother of Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974), and Franco Zeffirelli, who cast her as Martha, the sister of Lazarus, in Jesus of Nazareth (1977). Carta lived in Rome for many years and she served as Communal Councilwoman from 1976 to 1981 on the side of the Italian Communist Party.
In 1985, she was awarded, as songwriter, the Targa Tenco for dialectal/regional music. In the last years of her life, Maria Carta gave her time to the University of Bologna where she conducted a series of classes and advised student theses on which she had relevant personal, human experience and scholarly background.
In 1991, the President of the Republic Francesco Cossiga named her a “Commendatore della Repubblica” ("Knight of the Republic").
- 1971 Sardegna canta
- 1971 Ninna nanna / Muttos de amore
- 1971 Adiu a mama / Antoneddu Antoneddu
- 1971 Trallallera corsicana / La ragazza moderna
- 1971 Paradiso in Re
- 1973 Nuovo maggio / Funerale di un lavoratore
- 1974 Dilliriende
- 1974 Amore disisperadu / Ave Maria
- 1974 Dies Irae
- 1975 Diglielo al tuo Dio / Nuovo maggio
- 1975 Maria Carta
- 1976 Vi canto una storia assai vera
- 1976 La voce e i canti di Maria Carta vol.1
- 1976 La voce e i canti di Maria Carta vol. 2
- 1978 No potho reposare / Ballada ogliastrina / Muttettu
- 1978 Umbras
- 1980 Haidiridiridiridiridinni
- 1984 Maria Carta concerto dal vivo
- 1981 Sonos ‘e memoria
- 1984 Sonos’ e memoria
- 1992 Chelu e mare
- 1993 Le memorie della musica
- 1993 Muttos ‘e amore
- 1993 Trallallera
- 2002 Sardegna canta
- 2012 - Il Recital di Maria Carta e Amalia Rodriguez with Amália Rodrigues (live album) Recorded in Rome in 1972.
- 1977 Jesus of Nazareth (miniseries) (by Franco Zeffirelli) as Martha
- 1974 The Godfather Part II (by Francis Ford Coppola) as Vito Corleone's mother
- 1976 Cecilia - Storia di una comune anarchica (by Jean-Louis Comolli) as Olimpia
- 1977 Cadaveri eccellenti (by Francesco Rosi) as Signora Cres
- 1980 Un reietto delle isole (based on by Joseph Conrad's novel An Outcast of the Islands) (by Giorgio Moser)
- 1985 Derborence
- 1986 Il camorrista (by Giuseppe Tornatore) as The mother
- 1988 Disamistade (by Gianfranco Cabiddu) as "Madre Di Sebastiano"
- 1992 Il commissario Corso (telefilm)