The drama concerns the opera singer’s later life when she is persuaded out of retirement in order to give a number of master classes to students.
This is a very disappointing play that lacks any real story . I knew nothing about Maria Callas when I entered the theatre and I knew nothing about her when I left it. The play starts promisingly with some witty dialogue and some great interaction with the audience. But, after half an hour, the play begins to lose its momentum as it becomes bogged down with tedious singing lessons that go on far too long. I cringed at times when she humiliated her students, who came to Callas’s class with so much confidence and left it almost demoralised by her egotistical behaviour.
I was expecting an insight into what the real Maria Callas was like, and a little about her life, but all the play told me was that Maria had some good and bad memories and she was now a washed out singer with a bad temper and an insulting manner.
The play may be awful, but Patti LuPone certainly isn’t. She plays the part of Maria Callas powerfully and convincingly. However, she has had plenty of time to mature the character as she played the part on Broadway before the show transferred here to London.
The play has received mixed reviews from the popular press. NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD gave the show a poor rating, saying“ What homespun, laughable drivel, masquerading as profundity....Foglia’s strident production, full of pent up caricature....” THE INDEPENDANT reviewer in the 10th May edition was not impressed either , he gave the play a rating of ‘Deadly’ saying “ LuPone gives her considerable all but the production is crass....” I can’t agree more! But there are some positive reviews by the press. BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE from the THE TIMES likes it, he says “ the play has its hilarious moments” and THE DAILY MAIL was positive about LuPone , saying “ ..a standing ovation-grade performance.” JOHN PETER of THE SUNDAY TIMES was very enthusiastic saying “ a hit, a hit, a palpable West End hit.”
‘Master Class’, won the Tony Award for Best Play last year. Why? I don’t know! BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD shares my sentiment, he says the production “.. never hits a truly high note and leaves one wondering why the Americans made such a song and dance about it.” All I will say is, I won’t be seeing the play again!