Meryl Streep to play Maria Callas in HBO film

Meryl Streep and Maria Callas. pictured in 1958 At 65, Streep is 12 years older than Callas (r) was at the time of her death in 1977

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Meryl Streep is to star in an HBO film as legendary opera singer Maria Callas, the US network has confirmed.

Based on the Tony-winning 1995 play by Terrence McNally, Master Class shows Callas in later life, teaching students at New York's Juilliard school.

The HBO film will reunite Streep with director Mike Nichols, with whom she collaborated on the films Silkwood, Heartburn and Postcards from the Edge.

Streep, 65, also appeared in Nichols' HBO mini-series Angels in America.

Master Class was named best play at the 1996 Tony awards, where Zoe Caldwell was also recognised for her performance as Callas.

Patti LuPone and Tyne Daly went on to play the role, both on Broadway and in London's West End.

Bessie Smith and Queen Latifah Bessie Smith (l) died in 1937 from injuries suffered in a car accident

HBO are also producing a biopic of Bessie Smith, the celebrated US singer known as "the Empress of the Blues".

Queen Latifah will play the title role in Bessie, currently in production in Atlanta and scheduled for a 2015 premiere.

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