Maria Carta

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Maria Carta

Also known as
Born(1934-06-24)24 June 1934
Siligo, Sardinia, Italy
Died22 September 1994(1994-09-22) (aged 60)
Rome, Italy
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active1970–1994
Associated acts
WebsiteFondazione Maria Carta

Maria Carta (24 June 1934 – 22 September 1994) was an Italian folk music singer-songwriter. She also performed in film and theatre and, in 1975, she wrote a book of poetry, Canto rituale (Ritual Song). 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).


Maria Carta in 1957 won the Miss Sardinia beauty contest and later participated in the national Miss Italy competition. Around 1960 she moved to Rome, where he met the screenwriter Salvatore Laurani, who later married. She attended the Centro Nazionale di Studi di Musica Popolare, directed by Diego Carpitella, at the National Academy of Santa Cecilia[1] and at the same time she pursued a musical and ethnographic research path with important productions and collaborations.

In 1971 she made two albums: Sardegna canta and Paradiso in re, and in the meantime she attended the ethnomusicologist Gavino Gabriel. The same year RAI broadcast the documentary Incontro con Maria Carta (photography by Franco Pinna and texts by Velia Magno), in which Maria sings and recites with Riccardo Cucciolla.

In 1972 she played at the Teatro Argentina in Rome in the Medea by Franco Enriquez. The same year she met Amália Rodrigues, with whom she held a concert at the Teatro Sistina. In 1973 the two artists made a tour in Sardinia.[2]

In 1974 she participated in Canzonissima, interpreting the traditional Sardinian Ave Maria Deus ti salvet Maria.[3] She reached the final and was ranked second in the group of folk music with the song Amore disisperadu. In 1975 she held an important concert at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. In 1976 she served as Communal Councilwoman, on the side of the Italian Communist Party, in the city council of Rome and remained in office until 1981.

In 1980 she participated in the Festival d'Avignon, in 1987 she performed in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and in 1988 in St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco.

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).

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.[4]

In 1991, the President of the Republic Francesco Cossiga named her a "Commendatore della Repubblica" ("Knight of the Republic").


Maria Carta gave her last concert in Toulouse, France, on 30 June 1994. Ill with cancer she died at her home in Rome on 22 September 1994 aged 60.


  • 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[1] (live album) Recorded in Rome in 1972.


Year Title Role Notes
The Godfather Part II 1974 Vito Corleone's mother by Francis Ford Coppola
Cecilia – Storia di una comune anarchica 1975 Olimpia by Jean-Louis Comolli
Cadaveri eccellenti 1976 Signora Cres by Francesco Rosi
Jesus of Nazareth 1977 Martha by Franco Zeffirelli
TV Mini-series
Un reietto delle isole 1980 Based on by Joseph Conrad's novel An Outcast of the Islands
by Giorgio Moser
TV Movie
Derborence 1985 Singer
Il camorrista 1986 The mother by Giuseppe Tornatore
Disamistade 1988 "Madre Di Sebastiano" by Gianfranco Cabiddu
Il commissario Corso 1992 telefilm
Il respiro della valle 1992 (final film role)


  1. ^ Octavia Salvador, Maria Carta on line in enciclopedia delle donne
  2. ^ Maria Carta, il concerto dimenticato, La Nuova Sardegna, 10 marzo 2013
  3. ^ Maria Carta in Canzonissima 1974 on line in Teche RAI
  4. ^ Paolo Mercurio, In memoria di Maria Carta Voce della Sardegna (Giornata commemorativa, Milano 16 March 2014), in "BF magazine", n. 143, March 2014

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