The American soprano tells us why she relates so well to Mimì in Opera Australia's erotically charged new bohème.
You’ve already sung in this production of La bohème in Melbourne. How did it go?
Well, it was my debut in Melbourne, which was a wonderful thing to do. My character does not get a lot of glamour and glitz in this production, but Act Two is pretty spectacular. To be able to unveil that in a place where people are not used to seeing these productions is very exciting. Also, working with director Gale Edwards has been a joy.
What’s special about her approach?
Her vision was so clear. She was so specific in how she wanted to allow this world to come to life. It was just such a wonderful experience to be guided through a role like Mimì because a lot of my repertoire is more dramatic, not just musically with bigger orchestras but emotionally with larger intensities. So it’s nice to able to come back to a very simple character like Mimì. Sometimes it’s more difficult to do the more simple and genuine emotions than the big, grand gestures. And out of all the characters I’ve sung, emotionally, I’m more like her. Vocally, its very easy for me to sing, I have to say.
How do you relate to Mimì? She’s so unlucky.
But that’s life! What I love about Mimì is she never feels sorry for herself. She takes her situation as it is: she is the strongest of the operatic heroines in my opinion. Because even in that moment of death, of wasting away and expiration, she is concerned about what her lover and her friends are going through. How amazing is that!
Tosca was a huge success here for you in Sydney last year. But people weren’t so keen on Christopher Alden’s production...
Well, it is one of those productions – you either love or you hate it. But no matter what happens you are moved by it in some way. It’s wonderful to go to a show and see that during the intermission people are talking about the show, and not about which hors d’oeuvres are being passed around. And that’s an exciting thing to be able to say. Especially about opera.
How did you find singing in the Sydney Opera House?
Sydney Opera House is probably one of the most famous opera houses in the world. And when you see it sitting there on the water, you’re like “ooh”. But when you go in the theatre, it’s much smaller than you expect. When I was singing in Tosca I could barely hear the orchestra, because they’re underneath the stage! So it’s very difficult sometimes to get the balance of the voices correct. If they follow through on the construction plan I’ve been hearing about, it would be a good idea.
Opera Australia's La bohème opens at the Sydney Opera House on Tuesday, July 12, 7.30pm. See event details here.
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