Venue Details

Delta King Theatre
on the river in Old Sacramento 1000 Front St. Sacramento, CA 95814
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Quotes & Highlights

“There is only one word for this Master Class Brava!” — Sacramento Bee

“The staging, supporting actors and especially Janis Stevens’ performance as Maria Callas make this an outstanding production.” — Sacramento Press


Glamorous, larger than life, and drop-dead funny, opera diva Maria Callas is here to teach a master class. As she leads three aspiring voice students, Callas offers an intimate look into her life: her tumultuous affairs, her ugly duckling start, her fierce hatred of rivals, and the unforgiving press. The results are often hilarious, frequently moving, and ultimately riveting in this Tony winner for Best Play. Beautiful arias weave through this tour-de-force exploration of creative passion and the immense sacrifice for great art.

The play is a portrait of opera diva Maria Callas as told through her recollections of the glories, triumphs, and tragedies of her own life and career. Her voice is gone, her lover is long departed, and her sanity could possibly be next. All she has 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.

In 1971 and 1972, renowned opera singer Maria Callas led a series of master classes at the Julillard School of Music in New York. Terrence McNally fictionalized these classes for his Tony award winning play. Callas (1923-77), was the greatest dramatic soprano of her generation and also a controversial figure. Her restless and tempestuous personality often led her into disputes with opera managements and feuds with rival singers. However, she was adored by her fans and was the subject of constant media attention, including gossip about her jet-set life with the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis. Callas teaches her students just what it takes to invest the music with real feeling by revealing her own life’s triumphs and tragedies.

Master Class features Capital Stage Associate Artist and recent Bay Area Critics nominee for Best Female Lead Janis Stevens (Fiction, Les Liaisons Dangereuses_) as Maria Callas. Returning to Capital Stage is Michael Wiles (_Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me, Fat Pig) as Manny. The cast also includes Wendolyn R. Cooper as First Soprano (Sophie), Ian Cullity as Tenor (Tony) and Laura Pyper as Second Soprano (Sharon). Capital Stage Producing Director Jonathan Williams will direct. The creative team will include Stephen Jones (scenic design), Gail Russell (costume design), Ron Madonia (lighting design) and Ed Lee (sound design).

The Playwright Terrence McNally has won four Tony Awards for his plays_ Master Class_ and_ Love! Valour! Compassion!_ and his books for the musicals Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman_. His other plays include Corpus Christi_; A Perfect Ganesh; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; The Lisbon Traviata; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; and It’s Only a Play_, all of which began at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Earlier stage works include Bad Habits_,_ The Ritz_, Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone?, And Things That Go Bump in the Night, Next and the book for the musicals The Full Monty, A Man of No Importance and The Rink. For San Francisco Opera he wrote the libretto for an opera based on Sister Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking, with music by Jake Heggie. Mr. McNally has written a number of TV scripts, including Andre’s Mother, for which he won an Emmy.

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