Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cherie Gil is Maria Callas in 'Master Class'

Philippine Opera Company is proud to present the Tony Award-winning play, “Master Class.” It runs October 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25, 2008, 8 p.m., at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza, Makati City, under Michael Williams' direction.

For this production, witness Cherie Gil, one of Philippine cinema’s iconic performers, in a very rare performance as the legendary opera diva Maria Callas.

Asked what made her agree to portray a very difficult role, Gil says, “Maria Callas is larger than life and always known to be the epitome of discipline, having an intense passion and love for her art. I was compelled to get to know her though I knew it would be a very difficult show to do... To be able to acquire even just an iota of her essence would be a gift. Perhaps, I personally was looking into seeing my own art through her eyes and finding a fresh start to loving my craft all over again.”

Playing the students in Callas' master class are Jack Salud as Anthony Candolino, Florence Aguilar as Sophie de Palma, Deeda Barreto as Sharon Graham, Ceejay Javier as the pianist Manny and Michael Williams in a cameo role as the stage manager.

Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” was first produced by the Philadelphia Theatre Company in March 1995. It opened at the Golden Theatre in New York City in November of the same year. The play is based on a series of master classes given by the renowned opera singer Maria Callas at the Juilliard School of Music in New York in 1971 and 1972.

Callas (1923–1977) 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 wealthy Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis.

Although “Master Class” does delve into the triumphs and tragedies of Callas’s life, its primary focus is the art of dramatic singing. McNally’s fictional version of Callas teaches her students, two sopranos and a tenor, just what it takes to invest the music with real feeling, revealing along the way how demanding the profession of opera singing is. Although the play touches on many of the main events of Callas’ life, it is not in essence a biographical portrait. Rather, it is an exploration of the nature of artistic creation, as applied to operatic singing and acting.

In her interaction with the students, Callas also reveals her own contradictory personality--proud and egotistical yet also vulnerable and self-pitying. But, in spite of all the flaws of its main character, “Master Class,” written by a man who has been a Callas fan since his high school years, is a tribute to the dedication of a great singer and actress to her chosen art.

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Anonymous said...

Unfortunately missed La boheme and Paul Potts but this is going to be great plus hairspray next month... from lavinia arguelles to the real diva, Callas... hay gastos

RainB said...

It's rather brave of the Philippine Opera Company to choose Master Class and braver of them to cast Ms. Cherie Gil. I wonder how she treats that La Sonnambula scene. I hope she wouldn't disappoint. She is a fine actress - iconic as you say - but Callas is another level altogether.

Anyway, I thought the niche of the POC is, well, opera. They did the Magic Flute right? Or maybe it was another company. Master Class is a broadway play. Its structure, intent and treatment are hardly operatic - except its main subject.

Something to look forward to though. Great post as usual gibbs.

gibbs cadiz said...

ANONYMOUS, haha, oo nga, magastos. but do we dare miss cherie gil in this?! :)

RAINB, thanks for your comments. i think the reason why phil. opera company has a special place for master class in its repertory (it also staged the play last year, with jay valencia glorioso as callas) is, while it's essentially a play, it also has musical moments that allow the company to showcase its operatic talents. the students' roles must be played by real classically-trained singers since they will have to warble opera arias (in the case of the tenor anthony candolino, the entire recondita armonia), and that's where poc's talents come in. plus, of course, the play itself is not just a tribute to callas, but to the art form itself, which is at the very core of the company's existence. at least that's how i see it. :)

Anonymous said...

Well said, I think Cherie Gil wont be doing too much singing (didnt see Ms. Glorioso lastyear) but hopefully she will rise up to the role of La Divina and give her "students" an interesting time.

But I guess, the play concentrates on the events and sacrifices La Divina went through, she also had her own melodrama that allowed her to really sing with out turning into a wooden opera singer.

hopefully cherie gil wont be a second rate trying hard copy cat! hahaha =)

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