I hadn’t, but apparently she was big. And I use the term “big” in the broad sense – big in fame, big in personality, big in drama, big in voice.
I saw “Master Class” last weekend, one of the final performances of the show as interpreted by Stage Door Players in Dunwoody. The show is basically a fictionalized vocal class that Maria Callas would have held in her later years, with students of varying personalities filtering through her door and generally leaving as shriveled puddles of their former selves.
Evidently, Callas, a real-life famed Greek opera singer, was a tad brash. In the show, student upon student would enter this class–all extremely talented–and be scolded, poked, prodded, and insulted by Callas, played by the superb Marcie Millard. Callas was a tortured woman held back by her own personal insecurities and tragedies, masked by the facade of an incredible performer who lost herself in the power of applause. She lived hard and died young and lonely – the cliched life of an artist who lives for the audience rather than herself. A Jim Morrison of the opera, or something like that.
Who the hell knew?
So let’s get real: I know nothing about opera, and frankly, I’ve never cared to (despite the efforts of my former vocal teacher, Wesley Morgan, who incidentally starred and was fabulous in this very show). But the stellar production and incredible cast of “Master Class” at a little hole-in-the-wall theater in Dunwoody invested me, if only for the night, in one singer’s plight. For a moment, I cared that Maria Callas, the ultimate diva, cried for Tosca. For a second, my eyes blinked with tears that she sacrificed the opportunity of a child for a man who inevitably left her for Jackie Kennedy. That bastard.
Maria Callas may have been a bitch, but she was a talented bitch, and “Master Class” made her a human being as well. Thumbs-up to the cast, who was able to turn what could have been a show about some annoying opera lady into an event really worth seeing and discussing later.
Not that I’ll be listening to Tosca anytime soon.