Master Class (McNally)

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Master Class [1] is a 1995 play by Terrence McNally.

The original text

A play with incidental music by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, and Vincenzo Bellini. The play was originally staged by the Philadelphia Theatre Company and the Mark Taper Forum. After twelve previews, the Broadway production, directed by Leonard Foglia, opened on November 15, 1995 at the John Golden Theatre, where it ran for 598 performances. The original cast included Zoe Caldwell, Audra McDonald, Karen Kay Cody, David Loud, and Jay Hunter Morris. Caldwell and McDonald won Tony Awards for their performances in 1996.

At its core is the diva Maria Callas, a glamorous, commanding, larger-than-life, caustic, and surprisingly drop-dead funny pedagogue holding a voice master class. Alternately dismayed and impressed by the students who parade before her, she retreats into recollections about the glories of her own life and career.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1996: Presented by Pieter Toerien at the Grahamstown Festival in 1996, by arrangement with Robert Whitehead and Lewis Allen, directed by Mark Graham, starring Jana Cilliers as Maria Callas. Others in the cast were Tony Bentel (Manny), Gina Schmukler (Sophie), Anthony Coleman (Stagehand), Jocelyn Broderick (Sharon) and Pierre du Toit (Tony). Set and costume design by Andrew Botha, lighting design by Jannie Swanepoel.

1996: This production was also presented at the Alhambra Theatre, Johannesburg from 18 April - 8 June and at the Theatre on the Bay from 12 June - 6 July.


National Arts Festival programme, 1996.

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