Cherie Gil explains why playing the role of larger-than-life opera diva Maria Callas is very close to her heart.
“I don’t know what it is in my destiny that I just have to come and meet Maria Callas again,” said Cherie Gil who’s all set to relive the life story of the said legendary opera diva in Terrence McNally’s play Master Class the second time around. “It was the perfect time then, two years ago, because that was when I was undergoing a crisis (her divorce from husband of 14 years violinist Roni Rogoff). I wasn’t secretive about it. Since then so many things have happened. I’ve done four soap operas—I’ve never known where I’ve gotten the energy to do all that. I’ve traveled five times to visit my children). I did a movie with Peque Gallaga and here I am, so proud to say, back in full circle.”
Aside from the fact that she can relate to the joys and sorrows of Maria, the critically-acclaimed actress took on the challenge to inspire her to be better at her craft. “I just came from a soap, Rubi. It was really something that I kind of enjoyed doing, but it was my fourth soap in two years that I really needed something more fiery to awaken my insides to love what I do all over again. These ups and downs, the love that comes and goes, the changes... Just as Callas has always embraced these experiences, I am open to give my all to anything that I do onstage. Not many of you know where it’s coming from, but that's where it’s coming from,” she explained.
Cherie claimed that doing Master Class is the most difficult job she ever had to do because being its lead star meant she’s doing 80 percent of the talking and that she can’t afford to make mistakes once she’s on stage. “It’s a lot of memory work. And on top of it, when I do a play with a director as professional as Michael Williams, it’s got to be verbatim, not one word has to be misplaced in the sentence. If I do, he gives me a big spanking with a belt. When we rehearse, he'd encircle all the words I didn’t say and underline those that I said which belongs to a different sentence. So whatever I say on stage is the way it’s written.”
But more than the dramatic musings of Maria about her much-publicized affair with the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Cherie shared that Master Class is a must-see play because everyone who’s passionate about anything can identify with the sacrifices she made for the sake of her art. “I understood a bit of music, I understood what she did. I wanted to emulate her discipline. I failed the first time I did Master Class kasi nag-party pa rin ako. But after this I am going to a transition. Ika nga ni Maria Callas, ‘It’s all about technique, discipline, and mut (German term for courage)!’ I think every actor at any point of their careers have to be able to carry on with sheer nerves.”
Master Class will run at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater, RCBC Plaza with performances from July 29 to 31; August 5 to 8, and August 12 to 15 (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm).