Inspired by the turbulent life of renowned opera singer Maria Callas, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play MASTER CLASS is an explosive ode to the incomparable talents of one of the world’s greatest performers.

Overview

Inspired by the turbulent life of renowned opera singer Maria Callas, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play MASTER CLASS is an explosive ode to the incomparable talents of one of the world’s greatest performers. Class is in session at the prestigious Julliard School of the Arts as Maria Callas takes centre stage once again to deliver an exclusive master class to her unsuspecting “victims”. Mercilessly teasing out the talents of her students, the present blurs into the past and we experience surprising memories of times gone by.

Brought to life by the dynamic Lucia Mastrantone (Griffin Theatre’s JAILBABY), settle in for a whirlwind of unforgettable storytelling, sardonic humour and soaring music sung live on stage by Sydney’s best emerging opera talent. Let the fireworks begin!

Ticket Prices

For group bookings of 10+, please call Box office on (02 8918 3400) or email boxoffice@ensemble.com.au

Prices correct at the time of publication and subject to change without notice.

2024 SINGLE TICKETSPREVIEWSIN SEASON
FULL PRICE$83$88
SENIOR CARD$80$85
PENSIONER$76$81
GROUP 10 - 19$76$81
GROUP 20+$71$76
30 OR UNDER$40$43
FULL-TIME STUDENT$40$43
MEAA/AWG$40$43
SCHOOL GROUPS$25$25
BUY TICKETS
Reviews

★★★★★ "MASTER CLASS will delight opera and theatre lovers alike" The Age

"Full of dazzling highs and lows, purrs and hisses, bravura pronouncements and quiet wound-licking" Variety

Cast & Creatives
Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally

Playwright

Terrence McNally was an American playwright, librettist, and LGBTQ+ trailblazer, described by the New York Times as “the bard of the American Theater.” One of the few playwrights of his generation to successfully pass from the avant-garde to mainstream acclaim, Terrence redefined American playwriting for six decades and was the recipient of five Tony Awards (two for his plays LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! and MASTER CLASS, two for the books to his musicals KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN and RAGTIME, and the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. Terrence was also the recipient of an Emmy Award (ANDRE’S MOTHER), four Drama Desk Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, two Obie Awards, three Hull-Warriner Awards, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, the 2011 Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award (where he was Vice President from 1981 to 2001), the 2015 Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award, and an induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2018, Terrence was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Terrence was an alumnus of Columbia University and received honorary degrees from NYU and from Juilliard, where he helped create the playwriting program in 1993.  His incredible legacy lives on in his plays, musicals, and operas that continue to be performed all over the world, as well as in his papers, which are kept and open to the public at the Harry Ransom Center in the University of Texas at Austin.

Liesel Badorrek

Liesel Badorrek

Director

CDP Theatre Producers: RATBURGER, ARE WE THERE YET, MAGIC BEACH, SPOT, GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, THE TREEHOUSE SERIES (26, 52, 78, 91), HORRIBLE HARRIET. Critical Stages: ALPHABETICAL SYDNEY. Loose Canon Arts: TRASH ALCHEMY, DARLINGWOOD TALES, MONKEYSHINES, SCHNECKENUDEL. Opera Australia: CARMEN ON COCKATOO ISLAND. Director/Librettist: CINDERELLA, EL KID, BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON. Revival Director: ERNANI, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, LA BOHEME. Assistant Director: WEST SIDE STORY, LA BOHEME. Send For Productions/Sydney Festival: SEND FOR NELLIE. Vivid: Creator: WINDOW DRESSING. Australia/NZ Associate Director: TALL STORIES (UK). Meneer Monster: DE WAANZINNIGE BOOMHUT VAN 13 VERDIEPINGEN (The Netherlands), 2023 CHURCHILL FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENT.

Miranda Middleton

Miranda Middleton

Assistant Director

Ensemble Theatre: A LETTER FOR MOLLY. Bell Shakespeare: THE LOVERS, TIMON OF ATHENS, ARDEN OF FAVERSHAM. Dirty Pennies Theatre Project: LEMON TREE ON DREG STREET. Melbourne Theatre Company: COME RAIN OR COME SHINE. Old Fitz Theatre: THE EISTEDDFOD. Rogue Projects: NOT TODAY, PEAR-SHAPED. Salty Theatre: THE GRINNING MAN, VOLDEMORT AND THE TEENAGE HOGWARTS MUSICAL PARODY. Theatre Works: SENSER. Training: NIDA.

Maria Alfonsine

Maria Alfonsine

Musical Director/Cast/Composer & Sound Designer

Darlinghurst Theatre Company: THE HYPOCHONDRIAC. Hurrah Hurrah Theatre Company: TRADE. Merrigong Theatre: SEND FOR NELLIE. Metanoia Theatre: BABELISM: LOVE AND MEMORY. Metropolis Touring: BEATLES ORCHESTRATED. Raghav Handa: MENS REA: THE SHIFTER’S INTENT. Riverside Theatres: TAKE TWO: A COMEDY OF ERRORS. Sydney Opera House: ALPHABETICAL SYDNEY: ALL ABOARD!. Sydney Theatre Company: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT. Film: AKONI, SWINGING SAFARI. TV: SWIFT STREET, A CERTAIN MOTHER, WAKEFIELD, SNACKMASTERS, CHIKAS, BLACK COMEDY, SISTERS, PULSE. Advertisements: AMAZON, AMERICAN EXPRESS, PLENTI, SPECSAVERS, STOCKLAND. Training: INGESUNDS MUSIC SCHOOL (Sweden), WENDELSBERGS THEATRE SCHOOL (Sweden), THE AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC.

Damian de Boos-Smith

Damian de Boos-Smith

Cast/Composer & Sound Designer

Darlinghurst Theatre Company: THE HYPOCHONDRIAC. Metropolis Touring: BOWIE/QUEEN /FLEETWOOD MAC ORCHESTRATED. Riverside Theatres: TAKE TWO: A COMEDY OF ERRORS. Sydney Theatre Company: THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT. Touring Musicals: THE LION KING, CHICAGO, GREASE THE ARENA SPECTACULAR, WE WILL ROCK YOU. Film: HAPPY FEET 2, LEGO BATMAN, PETER RABBIT, AKONI, SWINGING SAFARI. TV: SWIFT STREET, A CERTAIN MOTHER, WAKEFIELD, SNACKMASTERS, THE BLOCK, THE FORCE, MY KITCHEN RULES, LEGO MASTERS, BLACK COMEDY. Advertisements: AMAZON, NRL, AFL, TELSTRA, QANTAS, FEDEX, WRIGLEYS, MCDONALDS, PEPSI, LG, TOYOTA, FORD, WESTFIELD, ING, PLENTI, SPECSAVERS. Training: SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC.

Elisa Colla

Elisa Colla

Cast

Ensemble Theatre: Debut. Opera Australia/Gordon Frost: MY FAIR LADY. Cameron Mackintosh/Michael Cassel Group: LES MISERABLES. Gordon Frost: WICKED (Australian and International Tour). John Frost/Crossroads Live: THE MOUSETRAP. Hamer Hall: MORNING MELODIES. Melbourne Recital Centre: AENEAS THE MUSICAL. Victorian Opera: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC. Packemin Productions: WEST SIDE STORY. Awards: ROB GUEST ENDOWMENT FINALIST. Training: AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF MUSIC.

Lucia Mastrantone

Lucia Mastrantone

Cast

Theatre: Belvoir: LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, THE CHERRY ORCHARD, ATLANTIS, TWELFTH NIGHT, THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING, SCORCHED, MACBETH, MY VICIOUS ANGEL, POPULAR MECHANICALS. Sydney Theatre Company: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEIING EARNEST, THE HARP IN THE SOUTH, TALK, MARRIAGE BLANC, ROMEO AND JULIETTE, TALE-MAKER. Hayes: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Griffin: JAILBABY, WINDOW-CRICKET-BAT, DEAD CAT BOUNCE, KILL CLIMATE DENIERS, LADIES DAY. Showtunes Productions: LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. Darlinghurst: THE HYPOCHONDRIAC. Bell Shakespeare: THE DUCHESS OF MALFI: Melbourne Theatre: THE VENETIAN TWINS. Shaun Parker: BLUE LOVE. Legs on the Wall: UNDER-THE-INFLUENCE (Edinburgh/Europe Tour). TV: SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS, THE LETDOWN, HOME AND AWAY, PACIFIC HEAT, RAKE, TANGLE. Film: LOOK-BOTH-WAYS, STEALTH, SPANK. Awards: Humanitarian of the Year, ‘Oscarts’ Critics Best Actress, Queen’s Trust.

Bridget Patterson

Bridget Patterson

Cast

OPERA-Opera Australia: CARMEN, LA TRAVIATA, LA BOHEME, EL KID. Sydney Conservatorium of Music: ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD, LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, IL MATRIMONIO SEGRETO, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF, LITTLE WOMEN. ORATORIO- BACH MAGNIFICAT, MESSIAH, MISSA IN TEMPORE BELLI (Haydn), MOZART REQUIEM, MASS IN C OP.86 (Beethoven). MUSICAL THEATRE -The Depot Theatre: COMPANY. Muse: SWEENEY TODD. UNSW: YOU’RE GONNA LOVE TOMORROW. Willoughby Symphony Orchestra: DISNEY CLASSICS. TOURING- Metropolis Touring: HOOKED ON CLASSICS. MJR: HANS ZIMMER (Revealed), DISTANT WORLDS: FINAL FANTASY, ABBA SPECTACULAR. Precedent Productions: LOCAL BUSINESS AWARDS. FILM: LADIES IN BLACK, BEATRICE; THE PROFESSIONAL UNDERSTUDY. TV: YOUNG STARS OF AUSTRALIAN OPERA (Carols in the Domain). Training: SYDNEY CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC, THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY.

Matthew Reardon

Matthew Reardon

Cast

Opera Australia: MADAME BUTTERFLY, CARMEN,REGIONAL TOUR and CHORUS. West Australian Opera: IOLANTA, DER SCHAUSPIELDIREKTOR, OTELLO and CHORUS. Adelaide Festival: VERDIEM REQUIEM WITH ZURICH STATE OPERA AND BALLET. Festival Opera Napier, NZ: ROMEO AND JULIET, CARMEN and PUCCINI MASS & FESTIVAL GALA. Music Academy of the West Festival, Santa Barbara, California: THE BARTERED BRIDE. TV: CAROLS IN THE DOMAIN. Award/ Training: WAAPA, UWS, Dame Nellie Melba Opera Trust, WIAV and  SBS/DEUTSCHE WELLE – News Radio Cadetship. Tenor Matthew Reardon is an International Operatic Tenor having performed in Europe, America and Australia.

Isabel Hudson

Isabel Hudson

Set & Costume Designer

Ensemble Theatre: THE PLANT. Belvoir St Theatre: BLESSED UNION, WINYANBOGA YURRINGA, EVERY BRILLIANT THING. Crossroads Live: THE MOUSETRAP costume. Darlinghurst Theatre Company: RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE. Griffin Theatre Company: JAILBABY, PONY. Hayes Theatre Co: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN set, AMERICAN PSYCHO set, CRY-BABY set. Melbourne Theatre Company: TORCH THE PLACE set. Pinchgut Opera: FARNACE. Sydney Theatre Company: A FOOL IN LOVE, CONSTELLATIONS, HUBRIS AND HUMILIATION. Sydney Festival/Rising Festival: MAUREEN: HARBINGER OF DEATH. Awards: Won four Sydney Theatre Awards for her outstanding designs best set design for CONSTELLATIONS, AMERICAN PSYCHO, and CRY-BABY, and best costume design for HUBRIS AND HUMILIATION.

Kelsey Lee

Kelsey Lee

Lighting Designer

Ensemble Theatre: Lighting Designer: THE MEMORY OF WATER, A LETTER FOR MOLLY, UNQUALIFIED 2: STILL UNQUALIFIED, KILLING KATIE, OUTDATED & Costume Designer: SWITZERLAND. Australian Chamber Orchestra: THERES A SEA IN MY BEDROOM, WILFRED GORDON MCDONALD PARTRIDGE. Australian Theatre for Young People: APRIL AARDVARK. Bell Shakespeare: COMEDY OF ERRORS. Belvoir Street Theatre: A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN, Associate Designer: BLUE, AT WHAT COST. 25A Belvoir: AN OX STAND ON MY TONGUE, DESTROY SHE SAID, EXTINCTION OF THE LEARNED RESPONSE. Force Majeure: GURR ERA OP. Griffin Theatre Company: THE LEWIS TRILOGY, SEX MAGICK, WHITEFELLA YELLA TREE. Hayes Theatre: TELL ME ON A SUNDAY, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Marrugeku: MUTIARA. National Theatre of Parramatta: QUEEN FATIMA, Set Designer: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO SELF DEFENCE, NOTHING. Sydney Dance Company: SOMOS.

Linda Nicholls-Gidley

Linda Nicholls-Gidley

Dialect Coach

Theatre: Ensemble Theatre: ULSTER AMERICAN, SWITZERLAND, ALONE IT STANDS, THE MEMORY OF WATER, SUMMER OF HAROLD, BENEFACTORS, CLYDE’S, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, BOXING DAY BBQ, THE CARETAKER, PHOTOGRAPH 51, BLACK COCKATOO, BABY DOLL. Belvoir Street Theatre: COUNTING AND CRACKING. Crossroads Live: CINDERELLA, 9 TO 5. Darlinghurst Theatre: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, ONCE, A CHORUS LINE. DreamWorks: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. Gordon Frost: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, SHREK, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, THE BODYGUARD, DIRTY DANCING. Griffin Theatre: PONY. GWB Entertainment JAGGED LITTLE PILL, GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Hayes Theatre: MURDER FOR TWO. National Theatre of Paramatta: FADE. Paul Dainty: TINA. Television: SHANTARAM, WELLMANIA, YEAR OF, MARY: THE MAKING OF A PRINCESS. Film: JUNGLE.

Jen Jackson

Jen Jackson

Theatre Stage Manager

Stage Manager: Belvoir Street Theatre: LOSE TO WIN. Carriageworks: PARTY | PROTEST | REMEMBER. Contemporary Asian Australian Performance: DOUBLE DELICIOUS, THE BRIDAL LAMENT, LOST IN SHANGHAI. Griffin Theatre Company: END OF., GOLDEN BLOOD 黄金血液, PONY. Kurinji & Sydney Festival: 宿(STAY). National Theatre of Parramatta: NOTHING. The Ethics Centre: FESTIVAL OF DANGEROUS IDEAS 2022. Assistant Stage Manager: Belvoir St Theatre: AT WHAT COST. Pinchgut Opera: RINALDO. As Company Manager: National Theatre of Parramatta: CHOIR BOY. Training: NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DRAMATIC ART.

Emily Phillips

Emily Phillips

Rehearsal Stage Manager

CDP Theatre Producers: THE SMEDS AND THE SMOOS (2024 Australian Regional Tour), THE 78 – STOREY TREEHOUSE (2023/ 2024 Australian & International Tour – Singapore), ROOM ON THE BROOM (Australian Regional Tour), ARE WE THERE YET (2023 Australian National Tour), GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU (2022 Australian National Tour), THE MIDNIGHT GANG (2021 Australian National Tour). Squabbalogic inc.: THE DISMISSAL: AN EXTREMELY SERIOUS MUSICAL COMEDY. Training: BA Communications (Theatre / Media), Charles Sturt University.

Renata Beslik

Renata Beslik

Costume Supervisor

Ensemble Theatre: ULSTER AMERICAN, SWITZERLAND, ALONE IT STANDS, THE GREAT DIVIDE, THE MEMORY OF WATER, SUMMER OF HAROLD, MR BAILEY’S MINDER, BENEFACTORS, RHINESTONE REX AND MISS MONICA, CARETAKER, PHOTOGRAPH 51, THE ONE, OUTDATED, CRUNCH TIME, BABY DOLL, FULLY COMMITTED, FOLK, THE BIG TIME, LUNA GALE, SHIRLEY VALENTINE, THE KITCHEN SINK and many more. Bell Shakespeare: HENRY V, THE WINTER’S TALE, MACBETH. Belvoir St Theatre: FANGIRLS. New Theatricals: DARKNESS. National Institute of Dramatic Art: THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR, STAY HAPPY KEEP SMILING, THE TEMPEST, WOYCECK, A LIE OF THE MIND, PORT, THE THREESOME. Pinchgut Opera: RINALDO, MÉDÉE, ORONTEA, PLATÉE and many more. Sydney Festival: BETTY BLOKKBUSTER RE-IMAGINED.

Director's note

Last year, 2023, marked 100 years since the birth of Maria Callas, and it would seem she remains as feted and scrutinised in the contemporary cultural zeitgeist as ever she was.

The process of preparing a production of Terence McNally’s MASTER CLASS is a fascinating deep-dive into the uncompromising artistry and incredible personal vulnerability of La Divina.

Based on the series of Masterclasses conducted by the opera star at Julliard only a few years before her death at 53, McNally’s play explores the duality of a life which comprised La Callas the opera superstar, and Maria, the woman.

Pushed into Opera from a very young age by her ambitious mother, and never given the opportunity to develop friendship networks, social skills or other interests, Maria’s entire identity was completely informed by her career. Her world was Opera to the exclusion of all else – an obsession rivalled only by her relationship with Aristotle Onassis. The loss of both her great love and her magnificent career left her heartbroken.

In MASTER CLASS we find a brittle and fragile woman struggling to understand what is left of life when the career for which she has sacrificed everything, is coming to an end.

Ho dato tutti a te. I gave everything to you.

To explore a life and psyche shaped by music and drama, it seemed appropriate to embrace live music in order to feel the immediate and visceral connection to the opera of Maria Callas’ life.

Many thanks to our extraordinary cast, crew, composers and creatives.

In bocca al lupo.

Liesel Badorrek

Watch the trailer

Special performances

Audio Described

  • Thu 11 Jul 11am
  • Sat 13 Jul 3.30pm

Q&A Sessions

  • Fri Jun 28 8pm
  • Tue 2 Jul 11am

Free Teen Nights

  • Wed 17 Jul 7.30pm