An Orange for Master Class Teacher Callas

PlayBlog   An Orange for Master Class Teacher Callas
"At the conservatory Madame de Hidalgo never once had to ask me if I had if I had a pencil. And this was during the war, when a pencil wasn’t something you just picked up at the five and ten. Oh no, no, no, no. A pencil meant something. It was a choice over something else. You either had a pencil or an orange. I always had a pencil. I never had an orange. And I love oranges.”

This is Maria Callas, dressing down “Victim” No. 1 for not having a pencil in her Master Class by Tony-winning Terrence McNally. As the play is now being presented in the McNally three-play festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, La Callas is at last allowed her orange. At the top of the second act, her adoring accompanist Manny presents an orange to Teacher. She is profoundly touched, but, at the end of the play, when she summarily wraps everything up with “That’s it,” she walks over to get the orange, then thinks better of it and surrenders to a spartan life.

“That’s what you pay good directors for,” McNally beamed after the show. “I had nothing to do with that. It’s totally Stephen Wadsworth’s idea. In fact, I want all future productions to carry the credit line: ‘Orange Work by Stephen Wadsworth.’”

Peter Marks, in The Washington Post, compared Tyne Daly favorably — “more vulnerable” — to Zoe Caldwell, Master Class’ original Tony-winning Callas.

— Harry Haun

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