Theatre: Master Class

A passion for life (and music) is certainly a message loud and clear from this revival of Master Class, Terrence McNally's play about the original opera super star Maria Callas who is running a master class for aspiring opera singers. Inspired by the classes she ran at the Juilliard School in New York in the early 1970s, she alternates between being repulsed and intrigued by her students and then caught up in how their performances evoke memories of her past glories.

The play is an opportunity to see Tyne Daly on stage and she delivers a commanding performance as the no-nonsense diva. Dominating, witty with impeccable timing and occasionally vulnerable, her performance is something to be savoured. And it distracts you from being too bothered by some of the other quirks of the material such as occasional overlong scene and superflous characters.

Naturally anything about Callas is going to bring out her groupies en masse (including a variety of homosexual types), but you don't need to be gay or know much about opera to enjoy a story about making an entrance, getting a look and doing things with purpose. The play at its best is an education and an experience. Of course it could all end in tears and you lose your voice prematurely and die of a heart attack at 53, but never mind that. Don't miss it..


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