At the end of her career Maria Callas gave a series of master classes at New York’s Juilliard School, classes that have since become immortalised in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class. The show is part tribute and part analysis of the great operatic diva. Callas passes on the lessons of a lifetime to her students and the audience, delivered prima donna style complete with haughty tantrums, tears and moments of self-revelation.
In the production which opened at the Subiaco Arts Centre on the weekend director Adam Spreadbury-Maher blurred the divide between audience and stage by placing students in the audience. The house lights remained up and Callas, played by Amanda Muggleton – who won a Helpmann for her 2002 interpretation of Callas – arrived on stage declaring “No applause, we are in a classroom, we are here to work.”
Amanda Muggleton as Maria Callas in Master Class. Photo © Kate Ferguson
Muggleton dominated the stage from the moment of her arrival, inadvertently picking out the critics in the audience to deliver her scathing assessment: “You have no style.” She then stormed up the aisle, finger pointing at me: “You think...