Tempestuous personality of Maria Callas revealed in play

Sandra Prinsloo as Maria Callas. PICTURE: Annène van Eeden

Pieter Toerien in association with Cape Town Opera (CTO) will present Master Class at Theatre on the Bay from Monday February 20 to Saturday March 11.

Master Class is a portrait of Maria Callas in the context of the master classes she gave at the Juilliard School in New York in 1971, at a time when she herself had not sung in six years. In the play she is seen working with three students – two sopranos and a tenor. Aside from her biting wit, she is often blunt and even harsh in her efforts to mentor and prepare the singers for the cut-throat world of operatic performance.

Directed by CTO’s artistic director Magdalene Minnaar, with musical direction by José Dias, the play was written by the late American playwright, librettist and five-time Tony Award winner, Terrence McNally

The two-act play stars Sandra Prinsloo as Maria Callas and features well-known arias by Verdi, Puccini and Bellini. Prinsloo, in a purely acting role, will be joined by a stellar supporting Cape Town Opera cast including soloist Brittany Smith together with CTO’s Judith Neilson Young Artists Alida Scheepers and Tylor Lamani as the aspiring opera singers mentored by Callas. Musical director José Dias takes on a dual role as pianist and actor.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas’ birth. As the play progresses, the diva, who was born in New York to a family of impoverished Greek immigrants, shares insights and memories, recalling her experiences on the world’s grandest opera stages, her marriage to the wealthy industrialist Giovanni Meneghini and her highly publicised affair with Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis.

No under 13’s allowed. Tickets cost from R180 to R280. Book through Webtickets.