Amanda Muggleton as Maria Callas takes centre-stage
By Lois Maskiell
The hallowed soprano singer, Maria Callas known for her penetrating and dark voice is brought to life by Amanda Muggleton in the latest production of Master Class. Hailed as La Divina, Callas spent her life on the international circuit frequenting venues such as La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. In 1971, four years before her death, Callas lead a series of master classes at the Juliard School in New York and it’s here that Terrence McNally has located his play. Directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher of the Kings Head Theatre, this production that tributes La Divina reveals how great art can immortalise an individual’s life.
When Muggleton struts centre-stage, she reminds us that she has no need for a microphone. Her voluminous voice fills the Lawler Theatre and she’s immediately convincing and engaging. Lecturing her audience on what it means to perform, it appears we’re not simply theatre-goers but students of the master class itself.
Three unseasoned yet determined students planted in the audience soon volunteer to sing, accompanied by Manny (Dobbs Frank). The skittish Sophie De Palma (Kala Gare) attempts the aria Ah! non credea mirarti from La Sonnambula, though hardly gets past the first note. The next victim, Sharon Graham (Jessica Boyd) attempts Verdi’s Lady Macbeth, followed by the confident, Anthony Candolino (Rocco Speranza) singing Tosca’s Recondita armonia. Callas grilles each student for not understanding their characters’ emotions which they should be vehemently inhabiting.
All the great characters whom Callas brought to life – Tosca, Lady Macbeth, Medea and Amina – seem to be mirrored in her own experiences. While she shares her past through a series of anecdotes and flashbacks, we’re reminded of her turbulent relationships with her mother, sister, husband Meneghini and lover, Aristotle Onassis.
Callas is presented as a true artist – full of extremes and with a vivacious personality. Encouraging her students to have both “style” and “mut” (German for courage), Muggleton absolutely embraces McNally’s vision of Callas as the ultimate prima donna.
Dates: 5 January – 3 February
Venue: Southbank Theatre, The Lawler
Times: 3:00pm, 6:30pm, 8:30pm
Prices: $85 – $96
Photo credit: Kate Ferguson