(LENOX, Mass.) – Adding to her body of work portraying iconic women, including Golda Meir, Martha Mitchell, and the title character in Charles Busch’s ‘Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,’” Eliot Norton Award-winning actress Annette Miller tackles the role of operatic diva Maria Callas in Terrance McNally’s Master Class, officially kicking off Shakespeare & Company’s 36th season and running through August 18. Staged in the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre, the production is directed by Daniel Gidron and also stars Deborah Grausman.
A Tony Award-winner for Best Play, McNally’s Master Class takes the audience inside Callas’ infamous sessions, which she conducted late in her career. It’s a riveting portrait of the opera diva told through her recollections of the glories, triumphs, and tragedies of her own life and career. At the end of her career, her voice gone, all that remains for Callas is a lonely itinerary of master classes and luggage packed full of the memories that are her only travel companion. Her students are the hapless targets of her sharp tongue, while she remains the picture of innocent aristocracy. Master Class shows that while the actress may have left the stage, she will never give up her audience.
“I remember distinctly the first time I heard Maria Callas singing,” says director Gidron. “I was a freshman in high school in Tel Aviv, and an American girl lent me a record of Callas singing Puccini arias. Even though I was a classical music lover I had never heard anything like it. The pain, the joy, the power, the vulnerability of those Puccini ladies were jumping at me from the LP grooves. I was hooked. I started listening to everything of Callas I could get a hold of, and saving money to buy those treasured albums. I could not believe that the soprano singing Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Tosca in Tosca, or Rosina in The Barber of Seville was one and the same woman, yet it was clear that the sensibility, musical judgment, and acting power were all Callas’.”
Audience favorite Annette Miller embodies the iconic opera diva Maria Callas as she continues to thrill Berkshire audiences with her performances of both classical and contemporary characters. Miller, an Elliot Norton and IRNE Award-winner (Golda’s Balcony) and star of last summer’s hit comedy, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, once again teams up with director Daniel Gidron. Gidron previously directed Miller in Golda’s Balcony (2002 and 2009), and in Full Gallop in 2003. In addition to his work with Shakespeare & Company, Gidron’s directing credits include productions with the Lyric Stage Company, Gloucester Stage Company, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, among many others. He is the Associate Director of the Nora Theatre Company in Cambridge, Mass.
The cast also includes Company members Deborah Grausman (Broadway in the Berkshires 2011 and 2013 producer and performer) as Sharon, Luke Reed (A Midsummer Night’s Dream 2013, Tartuffe The Imposter 2012), as Manny, and Josie Wilson (The Merry Wives of Windsor 2006, Macbeth—New England Tour 2008), and new-comers Alec Donaldson as Tony and Nora Menkin, as Sophie.
Tickets to Master Class are $15-$50, and Shakespeare & Company offers a wide range of discount options, including discounts for groups, students, senior citizens, military, teachers and the very popular 40% Berkshire Resident Discount. To view a complete schedule, receive a brochure, or inquire about discounts, call the Box Office at (413) 637-3353 or visit Shakespeare & Company. For customized group visits – which may include artist talkbacks, tours, weddings, parties and catered events – contact the Group Sales office at (413) 637-1199, ext. 132. The Bernstein Theatre is hearing aid assisted and wheelchair accessible.