TAKE A "MASTER CLASS" WITH CALLAS

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Being a diva is not an easy task: just ask Maria Callas, that larger-than-life singer who soared to greatness as one of the most famous and international opera singers of the 20th century. Known for her successes and scandals on and off the stage, this American-born Greek soprano made headlines for her temper as much as for her talents.

Nicknamed "La Diva," Callas has been praised to the roof of the Metropolitan Opera House and La Scala for her voice, her technique and her dramatic gifts, especially as she sang the works of Puccini, Verdi, Bellini and Rossini. She is noted for her personal triumph of transforming herself into a svelte and beautiful woman, forsaking her heavy build, as well as for her tumultuous love affair with Aristotle Onassis.

Now you have the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's "Master Class" now gracing the stage of Music Theatre of Connecticut until Sunday, November 17. A master class is a gathering of students in a particular discipline, in this case opera, with a teacher of great skill and renown.

Imagine the fear and delight of a trio of students who are appearing in the auditorium of the Juilliard School of Music. It is the early 1970's and they are in awe of Callas' greatness and also petrified they will be found personally and artistically lacking. Hers is the only ego allowed to encompass the space and lo to the uninitiated who forgets it.

Irene Glezos is superb as the grand diva who is loath to admit she is past her prime, that others have usurped her musical sphere, that upstarts like Jackie Kennedy could supplant her in Onassis' world. She is alternately kind and vicious in her treatment of Sophie (Charlotte Munson), Sharon (Emma Rosenthal), and Tony (Andrew Ragone) as she encourages and destroys dreams. Even though she is at the end of her illustrious career, she still commands attention, alternating between advising and criticizing her students with reliving some of the highest and lowest moments in her life.  Kevin B. Winebold accompanies on piano. Kevin Connors directs this personal portrait in the great intimate space that is MTC.

For tickets ($25-45), call MTC, 246 Post Road East, lower level, at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Let Irene Glezos conjure up the fiery and brutally honest Maria Callas as she reflects on her incredible life and tutors some of the upstarts who may one day take her place, or, heaven forbid, surpass her.

posted 11.12.13

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