Master Class

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- Terrence McNally's MASTER CLASS has been successfully revived by the Fountain Theatre in a production that transferred recently to the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A. Karen Kondazian stars as Maria Callas, the firebrand soprano who blazed her way to operatic fame in the years between 1949-1959. McNally's prize-winning play deals with Callas near the end of her life (1972), when she was teaching at Juilliard School of Music. Three students (Clifton Hall, Khori Dastoor and Teressa Byrne) come to her for vocal instruction and guidance. What they encounter is a diva with a chip on her shoulder. Callas, who had to retire early because she lost her voice, airs a vast number of grievances during the course of her master class, most of them having to do with the men in her life (Onassis being the chief villain). The lesson becomes a revelation of her own character, spiced with passionate feelings about life, art, opera and mut--courage. Callas had the last quality in abundance; so does Kondazian, who carries McNally's slight but captivating play on her strong shoulders from beginning to end.

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W. LA. (310) 477-2055 or