A fun singer we are crushing on today is Renata Scotto, in the role of Lauretta from Puccini’s Il Tabarro trilogy, “Gianni Schicchi”. The young Lauretta is pleading with her father to allow her to marry Rinuccio, the love of her life. Scotto sings a glorious ‘O mio babbino caro’ (‘O my beloved papa’), with great acting that’s perfect for the character and makes it clear that if he does not oblige she will throw herself off of the Ponte Vecchio, the famed bridge of Florence, into the river.
With a modern twist: Lauretta’s dad takes away her iPhone, iPad, and all internet access for a week and she is devastated because her new boyfriend just started texting regularly.
The first opera I ever saw was Lucia di Lammermoor at the Metropolitan Opera (setting the bar high). It was my junior or senior year at Muhlenberg College, and my voice teacher was slowly exposing me to classical music (I had entered college at the age of 18 with the dream of being on Broadway. That all changed when I realized how operatic my voice was. My Broadway dreams turned into an Opera obsession). She suggested that we take a field trip with one other student to New York City to attend an opera at the Met. Seeing that both students were sopranos, Christa (my voice teacher) chose Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. I was still new to opera, and quite frankly, didn’t care which opera we saw. I was just excited to go.
As many of you have heard by now, Meryl Streep has been cast to play Maria Callas in the upcoming movie, “Master Class,” which is based on a play of the same name by Terrence McNally. The play had its Broadway premiere in 1995, with Zoe Caldwell giving a Tony-award winning performance as Callas. I couldn’t be more excited for this movie, since I have the utmost respect for Meryl Streep, and I adore Maria Callas and view her as the quintessential diva.
I was trained as an actress before I became serious about music, and to see an actress like Meryl Streep cast in this role makes me think that Hollywood made the right choice. Streep is a true artist and a true poshie. I would love to know the method she uses in which she develops her characters and what process she goes through to create each character’s speech patterns, gestures, and motivations. She is so effective and believable each time I have seen her on screen, and I’m excited to see how she creates Callas. A legend portraying a legend.
Callas was passionate about opera and I imagine Streep feels the same way about acting. Callas set the bar high for herself with a high level of performance and allowed her artistry and precise preparation to take over her whole being once on the stage. I am looking forward to seeing Streep transform into this poshie, La Divina, Maria Callas (preferably in the movie theater on 84th and Broadway, because it has comfortable reclining seats). If you haven’t already, listen to anything Maria Callas today. It is good for your soul.