REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Unveiling La Davina: Witness the Power and Passion in every facet of MASTER CLASS

By: Jun. 21, 2024
REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS
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Wednesday June 19th 7:30 2024, Ensemble Theatre

The Ensemble continues their remarkable 2024 season with Terrace McNally’s MASTER CLASS.

Director Liesel Badorrek did cast Lucia Mastrantone as Maria Callas, but Badorrek must have misplaced Mastrantone during rehearsal and managed to resurrect Callas herself.

We were magically transported to her Julliard sessions of the early 70’s.

MASTER CLASS is a dynamic tribute to the extraordinary talent of one of the world’s greatest performers. At the prestigious Juilliard School of the Arts, Maria Callas commands the stage once more, conducting an exclusive master class with her unsuspecting “victims.” As she ruthlessly draws out the abilities of her students, the lines between past and present blur, unveiling unexpected memories and revisiting poignant moments from her remarkable life.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Maria Callas, born in New York City on December 2, 1923, and raised in Greece, believed that becoming an opera singer was her destiny, driven by a combination of innate talent, a deep passion for music, and an unyielding determination.

From a young age, she displayed exceptional musical abilities, Callas often spoke of her art with a sense of reverence and dedication, viewing opera as a profound and all-consuming vocation. Her belief in the transformative power of opera, both for herself and her audiences, fuelled her relentless work ethic and her willingness to push through personal and professional challenges.

Her childhood was marked by trauma, with her overbearing mother, who pushed her relentlessly towards a career in music. In her own words “I was never young”.

Callas’ extraordinary vocal range, dramatic interpretations, and magnetic stage presence revitalized many forgotten Bel Canto operas.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Her personal life was filled with turmoil, including struggles with her weight, vocal decline, and a tumultuous affair with shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, who left her for Jacqueline Kennedy. Callas’ life and career were cut short when she died of a heart attack in Paris on September 16, 1977.

 As we sit in the Ensemble auditorium of MASTER CLASS, Maria (Lucia Mastrantone) begins with her “entrance”.

A self-aware, self-absorbed and passionate being, Callas starts the session with her self-assured, determined and forthright presence, enouncing her philosophy of opera, performing and existence.

She engages the audience/class by having them confirm her points of view.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Callas recounts personal anecdotes as a means of education. Her stern and authoritative demeanour commands the stage. Many quips are humorous and cleverly written so that at times we laugh to hide our recognition of her pain.

Her initial preamble continues at length, delaying the upcoming student lessons as if Callas is taking the opportunity to once again dominate the stage, her place of joy.

During her prologue we gain insight to her personality, her perspective of the world and how she responds to her life events.

The class continues as she begins to advise, train and berate her pupils. Callas does not hold back, telling it as she sees it. If looks could kill Callas is a weapon and Mastrantone the master. This hyper critical lesson impacts on her singers and adds depth to the character of this Opera Star.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Mastrantone is a tour de force. The subtly and intricacies of her layered performance is astounding. One of the most well rounded and intricate performances of the Australian theatre. Having embodied the character, the performance is triumphant. And the bonus of the set-up is that Mastrantone takes advantage of the role to bounce off the audience. This engages us more deeply and adds life and verve to the essence of Mastrantone’s performance.

The three pupils of this Class are almost play things and tools for Callas to parade her expertise and to display her all-encompassing experience of Opera.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Yet these fine actors add their own superb work as the hopeful stars of the future.

Both Dialect Coach, Linda Nicholls-Gidley and Operatic voice Coach Donna Balson’s talents are apparent in the glorious voices of Bridget Patterson (Sophie De Palma), Matthew Reardon (Tony) and Elisa Colla (Sharon Graham).

Patterson is the perfect shy and nervous pupil, Reardon’s captures the essence of Tony exquisitely and Patterson is an engaging and formidable Sophie.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Isabel Hudson has executed a stella job with the elegant wood panelled set and the finely styled costuming. Kudos to Kelsey Lee, who’s lighting design elevates Calla’s trials and tribulations with aplomb, it works beautifully in the smaller stage helping to create the various scenes and visions of Maria Callas’ life.

Maria Alfonsine’s multi talents have her as the tentative accompanist to Callas in the class. Alfonsine’s work also shines along with Damian De Boos-smith as the Co Sound Designers.

Badorrek has done an exemplary feat in gathering this cast to create a fine piece of Australian theatre. The staging is sophisticated and inventive creating masterful imagery. The harmonious ensemble work seamlessly together. The detailed layers of Mastrantone performance is individually a great achievement. The comic timing flawless. The voices and delivery divine. The experience sublime.

Catch this superb cast in another fine Ensemble work plus you have a chance to once again, actually experience Maria Callas, I mean the extraordinary talents of Lucia Mastrantone.

REVIEW: Kym Vaitiekus shares his thoughts on MASTER CLASS

Production Images by Prudence Upton

14 Jun 2024 - 20 Jul 2024


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