If you missed out on Cape Town Opera and Pieter Toerien's sold-out seasons of Terrence McNally's Master Class earlier this year, you’ll be delighted to learn that the acclaimed production will debut at Toyota US Woordfees in Stellenbosch from 7-10 October 2023 at the Adam Small Auditorium.
Directed by CTO’s Artistic Director Magdalene Minnaar, with musical direction by José Dias, the two-act play that was written by the lateTerrence McNally (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Love!Valour!Compassion!), once again 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 Soprano Siphamadla Moyake together with CTO's Judith Neilson Young Artists Alida Scheepers and Tylor Lamani and as the aspiring opera singers mentored by Callas. Dineo Bokala is the ‘stagehand’ and Musical Director José Dias takes on a dual role as pianist and actor. Costume design is by Maritha Visagie and lighting design is by Magdalene Minnaar.
Master Class is a portrait of 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. The play's riveting theatricality is truly ignited by Callas' emotional outbursts and the soaring arias performed under her guidance.
2023 marks the 100th anniversary of Maria Callas’ birth. Born in New York in 1923 to a family of impoverished Greek immigrants, Callas’ rise to stardom and her recognition as the greatest dramatic singer of all time remains unchallenged. In Master Class, Terrence McNally, who was a devoted fan of ‘La Divina’ and watched all of her performances at the Metropolitan Opera House, recreates her genius, recounts her triumphs and tribulations and reveals the tempestuous personality that often led to clashes and disputes with opera managers and colleagues during her career.
As the play progresses, the diva shares insights and memories, recalling her experiences on the world’s grandest opera stages, her marriage to the wealthy industrialist Meneghini and her highly publicised and ultimately heart breaking affair with Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. While her life recollections in the play are vivid, McNally once explained that Master Class was never meant to be a docudrama, but rather a work of fiction. It is foremost about the price an artist must often pay in the pursuit of excellence and greatness.
Master Class performances at Toyota US Woordfees run from 7 to 10 October 2023 with tickets from R200 via Quicket. Please note: no under 13’s.