Patrons are invited to take a seat in the classroom of an opera legend this fall, as Lyric returns to the Myriad Botanical Gardens aquatic stage to present the Tony Award-winning Master Class play. Performances are scheduled from September 15 to October 3.
Written by American playwright Terrence McNally, the production is billed as a fictional masterclass taught by larger-than-life opera singer Maria Callas towards the end of her life in the 1970s. Alternately dismayed and in awe of students parading past her, Callas recalls the glories of her own life and career. With excerpts from famous operas sung live by his students, Callas shares with us the rewards and sacrifices made in the name of art. The Master Class will be led by Lyric Artistic Director Michael Baron.
“It is an honor to lead the Master Class of one of America’s greatest playwrights, Terrence McNally, who died last year of Covid. His plays and musicals are some of the highlights of my theatrical career, both as an audience member and as a director, “says the Baron. “In 1995, I was introduced to his work on Broadway when I saw Love! Valor! Compassion !, a magnificent and groundbreaking work about the loves, lives and losses experienced by gay men. Then I saw the powerful original production of Kiss of the Spider Woman and the making of the musical masterpiece, Ragtime, which Terrence wrote the book in. I had the good fortune to work with him on a production of The Visit with Chita Rivera. This relationship led the legendary Chita Rivera to come to play Lyric in 2012. Master Class is a breathtaking portrait of a great artist struggling with the challenges of her career, her legacy and the importance of teaching the next generation of talent. ‘artists. “
Natalie Cordone, who is making her Lyric Theater debut, stars as the famous opera singer. Cordone has starred in concerts with the Colorado Symphony and the Orlando Philharmonic, performed with the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Winter Park Playhouse, and appeared in the Off-Broadway production of Tony ‘N Tina’s Wedding.
“Natalie and I are alumni of the Theater Department at Wake Forest University and share the same love of live theater, its power to bring us all together through storytelling and the importance of teaching,” said declared Baron. Plus, she has her own glorious voice and allows this version of Master Class to soar like no other. I am also delighted to welcome a trio of new opera ‘students’ into our production every week, featuring showcasing the next generation of great musical artists. “
Lyric’s production will feature three rotating casts of actors representing the students of Callas’s class – one for each week of the three weeks. Featured as Master Class students: Jennie Rupp, Viviana Goodwin and Anh-Mai Kearney (as Sophie De Palma); Macey Trussell, Julianne Reynolds and Tessa McQueen (as Sharon Graham); and Christopher Richie, Kyle D. Rudolph and Troy Freeman (as Anthony Candolini). The cast also includes Jan McDaniel as Manny and Josiah Brooks as Stagehand.
Cordone has been a Callas fan since she started studying opera. “Delving into her life, career and the character McNally created in her play gave me a whole new appreciation for her determination, artistry and work ethic,” she said. “I loved reading about Callas and watching her in interviews and live performances. There is so much controversy regarding not only her voice, but her personal life, that I feel like I am learning about her through Just when I think I get a feel for her perspective, I’m going to read something new that gives me a whole new perspective on why she behaved the way she did. “
Callas, born in 1923 and died in 1977, is recognized as one of the most influential opera singers of the 20th century. Her musical and dramatic talents have led her to be hailed as La Divina (“the Divine”). Composer Leonard Bernstein called it “the Opera Bible”.
“I fall in love with the real Callas and the one that McNally created, every day I work on this piece,” Cordone said. “Being an acting and vocals coach myself, I have to admit that I told my students most of the things Callas says in this play, in one form or another. Technique is vitally important. , but that’s what the rehearsal room is for.! I firmly believe that connecting to your equipment and fellow performers must come first in the performance. “
Master Class is Lyric’s fourth show of the 2021 season, from September 15 to October 3, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Friday; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The production contains adult language and content. The creative team of the Master Class also includes the musical direction of Jan McDaniel, Jeffrey Meek (resident costume designer), Uldarico Sarmiento (decorator), Corey Ray (sound designer), Fabian J. Garcia (lighting design) and Adam Brand (director technical.)
In addition, Lyric will present a world premiere of a staged reading of Alan Olejniczak’s Concerto on Tuesday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m. on the Myriad Botanical Gardens aquatic stage. The free event, which chronicles the professional and personal struggles of Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, will be presented on stage by Baron, Olejniczak and Alexander Mickelthwate of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.
Tickets are available online at www.LyricTheatreOKC.org or by phone at (405) 524-9312.