The great opera singer Maria Callas is the focus of Terrence McNally's Tony Award-winning Master Class, a play about an imaginary lesson Callas gives to three students at Juilliard one eventful day. Though the script is totally fiction, it's based in fact. "Maria Callas gave master classes at the Juilliard School in the late '70s," says director Mark Adams, "after her voice was totally shot." There are transcriptions of these classes, but McNally just uses those as a jumping-off place for his imaginative, comedic tale about one of the 20th century's most devoted - and difficult - artists. In the play, the audience becomes part of the class, watching Callas stylishly flaying her unarmed students.
"It's hard to express how funny and exhilarating and poignant this show is," says Adams. "It's my favorite play I've ever directed, because it has so much to say about the difficulties of being an artist." This production marks the third time that Adams and Celeste Roberts, the actress who plays Callas, have done Master Class, which Adams says might seem "to be a show about opera, [but] it's really a show that even people who don't like opera can love." 8 p.m. today. Through January 24. Main Street Theater, Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose. For a full schedule, call 713-524-6706 or visit www.mainstreettheater.com. $10 to $36.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 2. Continues through Jan. 24, 2010