August 19, 2014

Greek-Australian actress plays Maria Callas in Melbourne Master Class

One Maria to another: Maria Mercedes plays her idol and ‘dream role’ in Terrence McNally’s play, opening tonight.

While Callas fans around the world are divided about the choice of Meryl Streep to play La Divina in a forthcoming HBO project based on the play Master Class, a new production opens tonight in Melbourne, Australia (running until August 28) starring the Greek-Australian actor and singer Maria Mercedes as the Greek-American prima donna.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to honour the life of a woman I admire not only for her incredible artistry and passion, but for the daring, honest way she lived her life,” Mercedes told Neos Kosmos. "I don't want to do an impersonation, but try and present the spirit of Maria Callas. She was a controversial character - she was loved, she was hated, she was criticised...I'm trying to present her humanity."

The Tony Award-winning play, which first opened in 1995 on Broadway and features music by Verdi, Puccini and Bellini, takes as its subject the vocal classes Callas gave at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1971 six years before her death: after her own voice had deteriorated; after she had taken her final bows on the operatic stage and after the crushing heartbreak of her failed love affair with Aristotle Onassis. A fascinating glimpse behind the veil of the legend and into the life of the tragic diva.

Master Class is presented by Left Bauer theatre company at fortyfivedownstairs Melbourne, August 19-28.