Philippine Opera Company is proud to present the Tony Award-winning play, MASTER CLASS, about the legendary opera diva Maria Callas.
Terrence McNally’s Master Class was first produced by the Philadelphia Theatre Company in March 1995. It opened at the Golden Theatre in New York City in November of the same year.
MASTER CLASS is based on a series of master classes given by the renowned opera singer Maria Callas at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1971 and 1972.
Maria Callas (1923–77), was the greatest dramatic soprano of her generation and also a controversial figure. Her restless and tempestuous personality often led her into disputes with opera managements and feuds with rival singers. However, she was adored by her fans and was the subject of constant media attention, including gossip about her jet-set life with the wealthy Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis.
Although Master Class does delve into the triumphs and tragedies of Callas’s life, its primary focus is the art of dramatic singing. As McNally’s fictional version of Callas teaches her class, she explains to her students, two sopranos and a tenor, just what it takes to invest the music with real feeling, revealing as she does so how demanding the profession of opera singing is. She also reveals her own contradictory personality—proud and egotistical yet also vulnerable and self-pitying. In spite of all the flaws of its main character, however, Master Class, written by a man who has been a Callas fan since he was a teenager in high school, is a tribute to the dedication of a great singer and actress to her chosen art.
Although the play touches on many of the main events of Maria Callas’ life, it is not in essence a biographical portrait. Rather, it is an exploration of the nature of artistic creation, as applied to operatic singing and acting. Maria makes clear that art is serious business that cannot be done by half measures; it demands total commitment on the part of the singer/actress. Being an opera singer can never be an easy career; the singer must give everything to the demands of her craft. This means intense discipline over a lifetime.
Witness one of Philippine cinema’s respected actress CHERIE GIL in a very rare performance as the opera icon Maria Callas.
Asked what made her agree to portray a very difficult and controversial role? “I read the script over and over and constantly ask myself what I got myself into? Maria Callas is larger than life and always known to be the epitome of discipline, having an intense passion and love for her art. I was compelled to get to know her though I knew it would be a very difficult show to fill. Perhaps, I personally was looking into seeing my own art through her eyes and finding a fresh start to loving my craft all over again.” says Cherie.
Directed by Michael Williams, MASTER CLASS features Juan Alberto Gaerlan as Anthony Candolino and Al Gatmaitan (alternate), Florence Aguilar as Sophie de Palma, Ana Feleo as Sharon Graham and Kay Balajadia-Liggayu (alternate), and Francis Amora as the pianist Manny.