Meryl Streep To Play Maria Callas For HBO's Film Adaptation Of 'Master Class'; Mike Nichols Will Direct

Meryl Streep Set To Play Maria Callas
Streep Will Play La Divina In HBO's Film Version Of Terrence McNally's "Master Class." Getty Images

'Master Class,' Terrence McNally's best play and moving ode to the late soprano Maria Callas will finally see the light of day in film ... at least in your TV screen. After nearly 20 years of owning the film rights, Faye Dunaway has desisted and HBO is now producing the movie, starring none other than Meryl Streep under the direction of Mike Nichols, with whom she has collaborated many times including the succesful 'Postcards From The Edge' and 'Angels In America,' also for HBO, Page Six reveals.

While according to Dunaway she had already filmed 3/4 parts of the movie in the last four years,  rumors began swirling in the last month about the actress giving up hope, desisting her long idea of taking the play to the screen, and had decided to sell the rights to Barbra Streisand, who might be the one who struck the deal with HBO, although the TV Network denied to comment.

'Master Class' won the Tony in 1996 for Best Play and since then it has been represented by the world's best actresses and best directors. Leonard Foglia directed Zoe Caldwell on Broadway, Francisco Franco was behind the succesful Mexican adaptation with Diana Bracho -this stage version was qualified by McNally as the best of all-, Roman Polanski helmed the french version with Fanny Ardant. Other thespians that have played Callas in 'Master Class' include Dunaway, Patti Lupone, Norma Aleandro, Yolandita Monge, Dixie Carter and Marie Laforet. Recently, the play was revived in Broadway under mixed reviews with Tyne Daly, who was cast against type.

Mike Nichols is an expert taking stage plays to the theater, including 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf' and 'Angels In America.' 'Master Class' takes place in 'real time.' The audience is part of one of the many two-hour master classes that Maria Callas taught at Juilliard in 1971-1972. During the interaction with the students, Maria begins to have flashbacks of her life when she was the biggest soprano in the world, and later on she recalls her loyal love to Aristotle Onassis, who broke her heart by marrying Jackie Kennedy. The play draws parallels between Callas and the tragic opera divas she portrayed on stage like no one before. The production design transforms the stage into Greece, and the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Can Meryl Streep play Callas? When Maria taught these master classes she was 48-years-old. Streep is now 65. While no one denies the talent of Ms. Streep it will be interesting to see how will she embody the biggest diva of all time -certainly the last one-, and make-up and wigs should do the rest. Callas was extremely skinny, had long black hair, and was dressed with Chanel from head to toes during her teachings at Juilliard. She died in 1977. Production of the movie is set to begin in January of 2015. On October, this year, the play will be revived in Mexico with Diana Bracho  again, this time under the direction of Diego Del Río, to commemorate 15 years of the first performance.

 

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Ernesto Sánchez

Ernesto Sánchez is the Editor In Chief for Latin Times. Ernesto oversees the editorial operation and content strategy of the website and its extensions, making sure it appeals to the diverse interests of the growing Latino audience. Ernesto joined IBT Media in April of 2013, after being Digital Managing Editor for People En Español at Time Inc., and working for Univision.com where he held diverse roles. He began his career as an entertainment journalist for the newspaper Reforma in his native Mexico.