Amanda Muggleton returns to play original diva Maria Callas in Masterclass at Subiaco Arts Centre


Amanda Muggleton.
Amanda Muggleton.

AMANDA Muggleton has a career spanning roles from Prisoner to Shirley Valentine but her favourite is playing the original diva – opera singer Maria Callas in Masterclass.

She has returned to the part that won her Helpmann and Green Room awards in 2002 and could not be happier.

“The best role I’ve ever played is Maria Callas,” Muggleton said.

“I’m so thrilled I’ve got another chance to do it because I’m that much older and wiser and world-weary, which she was at the time when she did the masterclass.”

The production is a theatrical tribute written by Terrence McNally about when Callas was invited to New York’s Juilliard School to present a series of master classes to young vocal students.

“It’s all true and almost verbatim theatre, so the words you will hear me say are practically what she said to the students,” Muggleton said.

“Terrence McNally attended either 16 or 18 of her master classes as a young boy. He was fascinated by her, thank God, and then wrote this brilliant piece of theatre.

“She pulls no punches and doesn’t think before she speaks and humiliates these students; she picks on the audience sometimes.”

Muggleton will be joined on stage by three opera singers in a new immersive version of the production directed by Australian Adam Spreadbury-Maher, who has returned home from working as artistic director of London’s Kings Head Theatre.

Muggleton said the Greek-American soprano’s life was a rollercoaster of emotion through her love affair with Aristotle Onassis and first husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini.

“Something happens when I play Callas in that I become her,” she said.

“It’s very scary because you never know what’s going to happen but who wouldn’t want to play the most famous opera singer in the world? They talk about BC and AC – Before Callas and After Callas – because she turned the opera world upside down.

“Her life was so dramatic and tragic. She and Onassis lost a baby and of course he broke Callas’s heart when after 14 or 15 years of being lovers he turned around and married Jacqueline Kennedy. I do think she died of a broken heart.

“And her first husband was 25 years older than her and he saved her because she was very overweight. He had the money to get dieticians; she started as the ugly duckling and became the great beautiful swan. Who would not want to play this role? I’m hungry for it darling, I’m hungry to get her back on stage and it’s going to be fascinating.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Masterclass

Where: Subiaco Arts Centre

When: November 16 to December 2

Tickets: www.ticketek.com.au

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