Meryl Streep to Play Maria Callas in HBO Biopic

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The actress Meryl Streep will star as the late, iconic soprano Maria Callas in a forthcoming biopic for HBO, to be directed by Mike Nichols.

The film is an adaptation of the play Master Class, by Terrence McNally, which portrays the period when Callas taught at Juilliard, between 1971 and 1972.

Having depicted Margaret Thatcher, Julia Child and a magazine editor based on Anna Wintour, Streep (with 17 Oscar nominations and three wins) now faces the challenge of getting into the skin of another artistic legend, and one who sings opera no less.

Yet the learning curve may not be so steep: As a teenager Streep studied with Estelle Liebling, a highly respected voice teacher whose students included Beverly Sills.

The New York Post first reported on the project Wednesday.

In Master Class, which premiered on Broadway in 1995, Callas looks back on her operatic career and her personal life, especially the episode when Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, then the world's richest man, dumped her for Jacqueline Kennedy.

Streep and Nichols have worked together on films including "Silkwood" and "Postcards from the Edge" and on the television drama "Angels in America." The Callas film is expected to begin shooting in January after Streep, who turns 65 this month, completes another project, Ricky and the Flash. That film, directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Diablo Cody, is about a fading rock star who tries to reconnect with her family.

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