On the poster for his new cabaret show, Callas Bitch , Marcus Rivera’s face glares out from just above the title, with more than just a hint of attitude and smugness about him.

Down one side of the poster is also a silhouetted image of the Greek opera diva, Maria Callas, whom Rivera calls his greatest inspiration.

But his new show is not just a tribute to the great Callas arias, which inspired Rivera from the age of 13 as he was growing up in the western suburb of Blacktown.

He says the show is about all the callous women who have influenced his life.

There is a bit of word play going on as one half of the show is about Callas, but the other is about the callousness of a lot of women who had to be like that to get where they needed to be, he explains.

The callousness has an intention, and I think these women needed to have a degree of it to pursue their dreams and goals.

Some of the other women Rivera, who has previously starred in such musicals as Sweeney Todd , Assassins and Pacific Overtures , talks about include his grandmother in The Philippines and his mother.

The lyric tenor claims his show takes a journey from Manila to La Scala via Blacktown, and says it was through such bold characters that he literally found his voice as a young boy.

These women taught me to speak up, he recalls. I was very shy and hardly spoke as a kid. Finding a voice to sing with was something of an outlet for me, and I didn’t come out of my shell until I found that voice.

I was drawn to people who were vocal about what they thought and felt. Callas connected with me on an emotional level and her voice and the way she used it really spoke to me.

Callas Bitch plays at Bar Me, Kings Cross, from 10 to 12 August and 1 and 2 September. Bookings on 9368 0894.

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