A private invitation into the mind of the world’s most influential diva.

fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne

August 20, 2014

A reimagining of a diva in her twilight years, Masterclass is a play based on the renowned 1970s masterclasses given by Maria Callas at the Julliard School. Callas enters, still possessing the towering presence that crowned her ‘La Divina’. Over the two-hour production, Masterclass offers a real-time snapshot of Callas as she works with three very different students. In turn, each incites the tempestuous Callas to recall private memories of her own past.

Maria Mercedes has obviously spent much time studying the gestures and idiosyncratic accent of the singer, as she is eerily reminiscent of the late diva.  The stage is bare save for a grand piano and a cushionless stool. The houselights remained on as Callas warmly greeted the audience as witness to the afternoon’s masterclass. She urged no one to applaud, but reveled in the attention. Callas’ banter was quicksilver and turbulent, striking a stunned silence at one moment, and eliciting a rolling laugh in the very next breath. Cameron Thomas was warm and likeable as the obliging accompanist Manny Weinstock.

The glue of this performance was the very palpable chemistry between Maria...