Theater: Downbeat Duo

THE LISBON TRAVIATA

by Terrence McNally

Two gay male buddies, poised at the uneasy boundary between youth and middle age, sprawl in an overdecorated apartment and dish the dirt about opera singers. None can meet their fierce standards except Maria Callas (a performance by whom provides the play's title). They admire her for blending technique and emotion and, more deeply, for enduring a sad life and lonely death. Other artists, they say, impersonate the passion and hysterics of opera; she lived them.

One of the obsessive fans (Nathan Lane) is extravagantly camp, a walking aria of loveless lament. The other (Anthony...

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