Master Class at South Bank Theatre

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 much of her life touring internationally and performed at venues such as La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. In 1971, four years before her death, Callas lead a series of masterclasses 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.

SAC THEATRE MASTERCLASS 1 credit Kate Ferguson

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 masterclass 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