Anyone of a certain age will remember the larger-than-life opera singer Maria Callas, the world-famous Greek-American soprano whose personal life mirrored the drama of the music she was so lauded for performing.

The Ensemble this month is featuring a real treat for patrons, with the life of Maria Callas explored through live music with Master Class, penned by American playwright Terrence McNally.

Cremorne’s Miranda Middleton is assistant director for the production, and has been with The Ensemble since January as a recipient of the Sandra Bates Directors Award for 2024. In a ‘new take’ on Master Class, the production will feature actor Lucia Mastrantone singing live in a ‘beautiful and captivating’ performance’. “I think audiences are going to be really transported and enchanted by the live music on stage,” Miranda says.

Her interpretation of the play is that McNally was using it as a vehicle to express and explore his own feelings about what it meant to be an artist. “There are these brilliant lines within the play about artists wearing their heart on their sleeves and people in the wings not quite appreciating the beauty and the intensity and the sacrifice of art.”

While opera may be foreign to many of the younger generation, Miranda – aged just 31 – says ‘we need beauty more than ever in this world that sometimes feels like it’s crumbling around us’.

“Opera is one of those art forms that is transcendent. When you experience music like that live, it does take you to a whole other level.

“The power of music also reminds us that human beings are capable of creating beautiful things.”

While Callas died somewhat prematurely aged just 53 in 1977, just two years after the death of her former lover Aristotle Onassis, the billionaire Green shipping magnate, her legend has continued to delight, and this year Angelina Jolie will play ‘La Davina’ in a movie about her life.

Miranda says that experiencing live theatre as powerful as a performance like Master Class ‘reminds us of how important live theatrical experiences are’. “There is a magic about that and it’s not replicated by Netflix or even cinema.” Callas’s story maintains its relevance, Miranda argues, given she suffered a lot personally and was ‘quite a lonely figure’. “And I think that’s representative of what it means to be a celebrity more globally still to this day.”

The Ensemble, Kirribilli
When: until 20 July