June 18, 2014

Meryl Streep to play Maria Callas in HBO film Masterclass

Two women at the peak of their artform: will the Oscar-winning actress be able to transform herself into iconic diva?

Meryl Streep, the grande dame of American actresses, will star as opera icon Maria Callas in an HBO adaptation of Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play Masterclass.

The new film will present a fly-on-the-wall account of the reclusive, older Callas teaching aspiring singers at Juilliard in New York 1971 – three years after the heartbreak and scandal that put an end to her glory days when her lover Aristotle Onassis unexpectedly married Jacqueline Kennedy. The diva reminisces with and confides in her pupils, who gain insight into soaring highs and tragic lows in the life of a living legend.

The original play made its Broadway debut in 1995 and ran for 598 performances from 1995-1997. Patti LuPone is among the Broadway stars to have  portrayed the ultimate diva. Now Streep, who has played such real-life figures as Margaret Thatcher and Anna Wintour but may seem a surprising casting choice, brings all her prowess and experience to the role.

Slated to begin production in January 2015, the film will be directed by Mike Nichols. It is the second Maria Callas biopic to be announced in recent months.