As Tyne Daly brings her portrayl of Maria Callas to London, after the successful run on Broadway in Terrence McNally’s play, The Times spoke to one of the original Master Class students, a mezzo-soprano named Sheila Nadler.
When people saw the play they said ‘Oh, that’s not Callas’. But McNally respects and loves her — that’s evident in the play.”
Callas told Nadler to dress better, to change her hair from red to blonde, and to lose weight.
She felt there were a few singers among us who were not doing enough work, they wouldn’t lose the weight and they were difficult to teach. So she didn’t ask them to come back. If your feelings are hurt by Callas, that’s going to stay with you, and she didn’t think of that.”
Looking back I think she gave me the courage to continue. I had a private meeting with her, because I was so concerned about my nervousness. I told her I had to make a comeback. She said ‘So do I — we’re both in the same boat’.”
And the diva?
I’ve had minor diva moments — I’ve been around sopranos! But you need that competitive edge, that ego, or else how do you get up on that stage? It’s a protection of your vulnerability.”
Nadler is now retired after a successful career.
Photo: Lisa Kohler
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.