Category Archives: Classic Opera

Merola Opera: where future stars get loads of training and TLC

25 Young Artists. 7 Performances. And individual training, training, training galore.

Merola has served as a proving ground for hundreds of artists, including Susan Graham, Thomas Hampson, Anna Netrebko, Patricia Racette, Rolando Villazón, Deborah Voigt, and Dolora Zajick.

In short, Merola challenges and nurtures the “who’s who” of future opera stars.

Merola provides that bridge young artists need to access the professional opera world. Tenor David Lomeli, currently performing at the Santa Fe Opera Festival, was a Young Artist at Merola in 2008, wholeheartedly agrees:

For me, Merola was the place where the real world started, where I went from general training to specific training. I got to work with Chuck Hudson and Catherine Malfitano in my acting and with my teacher Cesar Ulloa that happened to be in Merola as a master teacher. I also got lots of work from it. They really work on giving you as much exposure as they can. It’s a program about the young artists–they are the principals of the shows–so everyone gets a shot on the spotlight.
–Tenor David Lomeli

Last week Merola artists or “Merolini” as they are dubbed presented four performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia. In ten days, Merola concludes its 54th summer program for young artists with a Grand Finale and Reception.

By all accounts, this season was very successful. Operatoonity interviewed Sheri GreenawaldDirector of the San Francisco Opera, who talked about this year’s program as well as plans for recruiting next year’s Merolini.

Peixin Chen as Basilio in the Friday/Sunday cast of 'Barbiere' |Photo by Kristen Loken

Sheri, how do young artists find out about Merola? (For instance, the artists from China, South Korea, Inner Mongolia, Venezuela, etc.)  We don’t ask singers how they hear about us, so I am guessing a bit when I answer.  We generally advertise our audition in Opera News and Classical Singer, and in addition, I would assume singers must know about YapTracker, where we now have our applications. Word of mouth is often the best way to hear about programs and with Merola’s reputation out there, I would be guess this is a big way that young artists hear about Merola.  Some singers come to us via recommendation, as well.  For example, Peixin Chen, a current Merola bass, was recommended by Francesca Zambello who heard him in China when he sang Zuniga in her production of Carmen in Beixing.

Can you tell readers about the annual process of recruiting/selecting a company? 
Audition announcements go out in August.  When the applications come in, we vet them and determine which singers will get an audition. Mark Morash and I personally audition singers in four cities, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and New York City. At the end of this process, which generally means we hear and interview 400-500 singers, 30-50 pianists, and about 25 stage directors, we make our selection of the group. It is a huge undertaking but it is the best way, and really the only way, to really experience the vast talent out there and make our choices.

What sets Merola apart from other young artist programs, i.e., do you have more international artists than others; more success stories, greater numbers?  What distinguishes Merola from other summer programs (and I stipulate that we are talking about summer training programs, not permanent Young Artist Programs attached to a particular company) is that the focus is totally on individual training. We may use the singers to provide a small chorus for an opera, but we do our best to limit their involvement to as few a number of rehearsals as possible, so that they can still be having individual coachings every day. My particular focus is to send all the Merolini home in better shape than when they arrived. With the amazing coaches and teachers that we assemble for the summer, that is a fairly easy goal to achieve. We do accept non-US citizens into our program, but I wouldn’t say that is what makes Merola great. It really is about the individual attention that each of them receives.

Suzanne Rigden as Rosina in the Thursday/Sunday cast of 'Barbiere' | Photo by Kristen Loken

A related question, what in your estimation accounts for the program’s growth from a four-week to a twelve-week program? Merola deserves its reputation as one of the world’s most important training programs, not only because of the level of artistic offering but also because of the dedicated and smart board leadership. Merola has grown steadily throughout its 54 year history – in 1958, the program went from 4 weeks to 6 weeks, another bump to seven came in 1962 and as the program entered its second decade, the program expanded to 10 weeks and now, at the age of 54, we are at 11 weeks.  We’ve also always been on the lookout for new opportunities to offer, so the program now includes language, stage movement, career coaching, etc.  We have evolved with the ages, but as you know, slow and steady wins the race and Merola has always been conservative financially and ambitious artistically.

Where do Merola artists go after completing the program?  The path for young singers is as varied as the voices of young singers. Merola is known as the gateway to San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program, so some of the Merolini do go on to this program. Others who participate in Merola are already committed to the year-round young artist programs at other major companies.   Some of them go back to school for further study, and some of them go directly into the world with professional contracts at companies. Opera is a complex field and successful artists take different paths towards that success.

Can you tell me more about the Merola event that took place on June 25 of this year? Who auditioned for what and who had the privilege of sitting in?  The General Director’s Auditions are basically for David Gockley, perhaps also Nicola Luisotti, and also the San Francisco Opera’s  artistic staff.  This is the first time David Gockley hears them, however they are not auditioning for anything in particular. It is the start of his impression of them as singers and artists.  And since Mr. Gockley is the head of the committee that selects the Adler Fellows, I suppose one could argue that this is the first step toward gaining an Adler Fellowship. For this event, Merola has a select group of patrons who are invited and so the event has a different feel than a normal audition. It’s a nerve wracking time for the singers, but the invited audience learns a lot about a singer’s journey and the artistic staff gets a chance to hear all the Merolini on one night.

Has technology impacted your outreach to artists and/or patrons and audiences?  From the perspective of our artistic process, the broad reach of Internet has enabled us to expand our reach to  singers. Certainly being able to do applications online has sped up that process.  Merola’s excellent marketing team is very savvy at social media. The company has an excellent website, an active Facebook page, and are experienced users of Twitter. Our young singers keep us current with all the tools of social media, and they are excellent partners to the Merola organization going forward.

What preparations have already begun for next year’s company?   In the midst of this season, we do have to think about next year. We are already preparing our audition materials to be sent to schools and institutions, and we have already selected audition dates and have our audition venues all lined up. We hit the  audition trail in October, once the applications will have been vetted, beginning in September.

Mark Diamond as Figaro in the Friday & Sunday cast of 'Barbiere' | Photo by Kristen Loken

Anything you’d like to add?  Merola is possible not only because of the work that we do at the Opera Center, but also because of their extremely dedicated membership.  With more than 800 individual members, many of whom are fanatic opera lovers, Merola is able to tap into the community for funding, audience participation, and support.  Merola members contribute financially, but also get very involved – sponsoring the singers, housing the singers, hosting post-event parties, bringing lunch for singers at break time, etc.  There are many famous singers whose Merola sponsors still attend performances around the world and stay in close touch.  It is truly a unique program  — wonderful for both the singers and the audiences.

 * * *

There’s lots more information and photos at the Merola Opera website. Visit http://merola.org. You can also follow them on Twitter @merolaopera and like them on their nifty Facebook page.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Classic Opera, Interviews, Opera Training programs, profiles

chattin’ up David Lomeli: Mexican tenor, toast of NYC!

Tenor David Lomeli

He’s an Operalia winner. He’s a recent graduate of San Francisco Opera‘s prestigious Adler Fellows program for the most advanced young singers.

As Nemorino in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love presented by New York City Opera this past spring, tenor David Lomeli was the rising star New York critics raved about and audiences gushed over:

“Mr. Lomelí captured the opera’s potent combination of hilarity and pathos. He certainly deserved all the applause and bravos. He was, in a word, delightful.
–The New York Times (full review here)

After David sang “Una Furtiva Lagrima” on opening night (his first Elixir ever, by the way), the audience applauded for a solid minute and a half. “The choristers backstage timed it,” David said in a recent phone interview.

I saw David sing the role for New York City Opera. In my review for Backtrack, I cited his second-act aria as one the most magical moments I’d experienced as an operagoer, the kind we all pray to be in the audience for and are  fortunate to witness.

Without equivocation, David Lomeli was la estrella de Nueva York. As The New York Observer said in their feature “Who Matters Now,” David Lomeli brings “Latin ardor to the stage.”

In case you didn’t know, his first name David (which he pronounces daVEED) means beloved. How fitting! This is one performer who is simply adored — whenever he sings, wherever he goes.

It seems that this love fest for David Lomeli began 29 years ago when he was born in Mexico City into a musically talented family. As a small child, he had blonde hair and pink skin, and the thirteen women he grew up with fussed over him to no end because of his fair coloring. And it seems as though all the fussing over David Lomeli has never stopped. 

(Or maybe it’s only just begun.)

Since winning Plácido Domingo’s Operalia in 2006, to this day Maestro Domingo mentors him, regarding David not only as a protege but also embracing him like family. David has been generously encouraged by many big names in opera including Luciano Pavarotti who once told David that being a next generation opera star would be much harder than the challenges he himself faced because of the acting and staging demands opera performance requires these days. He considers another very famous Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón his generational idol.

David is currently playing Rodolfo in 'La Bohème' at Santa Fe Opera / photo by Ken Howard

David Lomeli is talented and  hard-working, putting everything he has (mind, body, soul) into each of his performances. He is uber-friendly, utterly charming, and yet very down-t0-earth, having agreed to be profiled on Operatoonity though he and I had never met prior to this interview.

His is fluent in English — he attended a British school in Mexico — and so his answers are his own. (No translation required).

Bienvenido, David! Since your performance in ‘Elixir’ so gladdened my heart (porque cantando se alegran, los corazones), it is such a pleasure to have this chance to talk with you.

Can you tell me a little about your childhood (besides being a native of Mexico City)–how you grew up and how it affected your decision to sing opera?
Well, in my family there was always music.  My grandmother and my mother were singers — my mom a mezzo and grandma a soprano. I was raised by them my first years. My dad plays the guitar. You can tell by the quantity and quality of the Mexican tenors, that we are surrounded my music all the time — between salsa, mariachi, corrido, cumbia and boleros we always singing. The opera path opened in college where I finished an engineer career in computer systems. The beautiful way of Mexicans to do things happened in college.

My university had a theater of 2,500 seats with  a concert series featuring artists like Pavarotti, Ramon Vargas and Gustavo Dudamel coming every year, a musical theater company that made many Spanish world premieres of Broadway shows and a full orchestra. But there was no music degree offered, so we did operas and musical with whatever student of other degrees wanted to do it as an extra credit. The opera company of the university offered to pay my tuition as an engineer if I dedicated my extra time to sing with them and that’s how it happened. They sent me to Barcelona and Milan to study my degree in evening with  musical training in the mornings. I learned a lot by doing performances, graduating with more than 300 performances in the school theater productions. It was a great period of my life.

David won Operalia in 2006, a competition open to all voice categories for singers ages 18 to 30 years who are ready to for the world’s great opera stages.

You were invited to compete in Operalia in 2006, representing the United States (according to the website). How did that come about?
You are right – the site says that I represented the US.  But, I am not sure why, because  when I won they said, “David Lomeli, tenor from MEXICO.”   I do owe a lot to my US  training and support, but my green Mexican passport does not lie.  Ha ha ha!  I am still proud to be Mexican! (The citation has since been corrected to reflect his real country of origin.)

What are your memories of that experience—being named a finalist and then winning 1st prize and zarzuela?
It was a dream come true. It was my first real competition, and  my career was starting so fast. In February 2006, I just was sneaked up by my teacher Cesar Ulloa for an audition with Plácido Domingo. By August of 2006 I had a legal working visa and I had my first musical rehearsal ever! And it was next to Ferruccio Furlanetto, Salvatore Licitra, Eric Halverson, the dear Dolora Zajick (she gave me multiple suggestions on voice and career) — all conducted my maestro James Conlon. It was wild! I was surrounded by new friends and idols like Rolando Villazon and Anna Netrebko and then — kaboom! Two months later I won Operalia. I really appreciate so much the judges that trusted me that I could represent the label of an Operalia winner, when I think they saw a green raw potential and they offered the help needed to really jump start my career.

I remember clearly the system —  I was last in the operatic round and also last in the zarzuela one. I didn’t have any rehearsal with the orchestra and I had never sang those pieces with orchestra ever. “O souverain” from Massenet’s Le Cid was my operatic piece, and it was a different version!!! And the zarzuela piece was very complicated. Thank God  Maestro Domingo was there to take care of me on the pit. An angel intervened that day for sure.  I was so nervous.

How has Operalia impacted your career since winning the contest?
It gives you a label that never goes away.  It is like being number one in a tennis rank or golf list.  It is an accomplishment that gives certain validation to your work.  And it is a very different kind of competition. Most of the competitions are judged by singers now retired or in their way to retirement. This is a competition judged by impresarios and general managers. Also there are more than 40 other scouts for management, PR and companies there. If you score high with the people that hire, then I think is a very good sign of your possible potential. Another positive difference  is that this is a world competition — you have to compete against the Latin tenors, the Russian beauties, the Korean baritones, the American superlatively trained musicians.

I think there are very few in the world that give so much money in prizes and accept singers from over the world. I was never a viable candidate because of my immigration status to compete in most of the famous competitions held at the US, so when I won this competition, certainly my career got a boost. Most importantly, it brought together my team.

Operalia and the L.A Opera Young Artist Program brought to my life my coach Anthony Manoli and my guru and agent Matthew Epstein. These men,  together with my teacher, have helped me shape every aspect of my singing nowadays. They are constantly pushing for vocal excellence, correct preparation of the roles, appropriate rest time, the suggestion of  having a little project every performance to improve something each time, and they ask me to retain a sense of every performance being better than the last. Also, of course, the help find me a lot of singing debuts. Ha ha!

What has been the greatest thrill in your career thus far? Greatest challenge?
The greatest challenge has been to understand that I was not yet ready. When I won Operalia, I was suddenly around the globe in operatic publications and magazines. I was mentioned in lists next to Ana María Martínez, Rolando Villazón, or Joseph Calleja. But I was really only an engineer. I needed high class training and on the speed of lightning. Thank God, Maestro Domingo and their family, the guys at CAMI (Columbia Artists Management, Inc.), and the people at the Merola Opera Program and Adler Fellowship Program at San Francisco Opera were there to calm me down. I needed help  to understand that this career is not of speed but of continuous improvement.

David as Nemorino in 'Elixir' at New York City Opera / photo (c) Carol Rosegg.

In truth, the greatest thrill of my career so far was the three previous bars to start “Una furtiva lagrima” on stage at NYCO for my premiere. I sensed it was the make-it-or-break-it moment for me. It was just a phenomenal rush of adrenaline and the moment that every tenor dreams about.  When I finished the aria,  it was a very big moment for me.  It made up  for years of sacrifice, lonely times when you lose yourself and then later find you in a different corner of a different city, wearing the same clothes, but speaking another language and a different composer.  It justified so many moments of tears. I was laughing and crying at the same time and I couldn’t stop for a long time after. It was at that moment that I had the sense of my OWN satisfaction with my own voice.

Do you have any favorites? Composer? Opera? Role? Venue?
I love Donizetti, and I am dying to sing more of it. Favorite operas:  Dom Sébastien, La Fille du Regiment. Favorite role: Duca d’alba. It is like Donizetti wrote for voices like mine. I adore his lines and the extension. My personality is a combination of Nemorino, Rodolfo, and Werther. So each three roles are a treat for my soul when I have the opportunity to voice them.

You got rave reviews in all the NY press after your debut as Nemorino for NYC Opera. How does it feel to know NYC is dying to have you back to sing? Are you coming back–soon (fingers crossed)?
As you know, the opera world is very booked in advance but there have been talks for me to come back.  It’s not yet possible for me to schedule a return, but I hope so in the future.

What is something most people don’t know about you, something not on your professional bio?
No one really understands how passionate I am about soccer. I have traveled the world for the experience of soccer in a stadium. I am a huge supporter of Manchester United and also my home team Barcelona. Just yesterday my country became champion of the world in the under 17 cup hosted in my birthplace, Mexico City.  To see more than 100,000  voices singing “Cielito Lindo” brought tears to my eyes so far away.

Where can we see you in 2011-12?
I start my season with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto doing the Duke in Rigoletto, then I go to Germany to sing Edgardo in Lucia at Deutsche Oper Berlin, and again the Duke in Karlsruhe with my dear Stefania Dovhan as Gilda.  I am looking forward to my debut  in Houston Grand Opera with Maestro Patrick Summers as Alfredo  in La Traviata and also to my first major solo recital to be held in Birmingham, Alabama.  My season concludes with Bohème in the magnificent summer festival at Glyndebourne.

* * *

David  is performing at Santa Fe Opera Festival through August 26, and is excited about Santa Fe’s upcoming Press Week (early August). He has a new website soon to launch, designed by the talented Catherine Pisaroni, who has created outstanding websites for many of today’s most renowned opera stars. You can also follow him on Twitter @davidlomelink, where he Tweets, con gusto, in Spanish and English.

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Filed under 21st Century Opera, Bel canto opera, Best of Operatoonity, Classic Opera, Heartstoppers, Interviews, North American Opera, profiles, tenors

‘Der Freischütz’: Bowing out of popular favor?

(Today marks the anniversary of composer Carl Maria von Weber‘s death. In his honor, I am reposting this piece about his most acclaimed opera.)

My husband came home last night and mentioned, while I was putting the finishing touches on our dinner, that the “Movie Mavens,” a show his television station produces, panned the new Robin Hood with Russell Crowe. I love the Robin Hood legend and have watched every version I possibly could. So, it got me thinking about archers and opera. What operas, if any, featured legendary archers?

That’s why I’m talking about Der Freischütz today on “opera-toonity.” Never one to shy away from a German title with a juicy umlaut (a pair of dots or lines [ ¨ ] placed over a letter), I decided to investigate the work in my nutmeg-colored volume kindly bestowed on me by Ginger, The Benevolent.

Der Freischütz is a three-act opera by Carl Marià von Weber with a libretto by Friedrich Kind, first performed in Berlin in 1821. It is considered the first important German Romantic opera, and also significant because von Weber’s work was reputedly an influence the work of Richard Wagner. Like the story of Robin Hood is to the English, Der Freischütz is based on German folk legend, and many of its tunes were inspired by German folk music.

(I guess every nationality has an artistic love affair with their legendary archers.)

Opera Boston's 'Der Freischutz', 2008

It tells the story of a marksman who makes a pact with the dark side to win a contest and the hand of his beloved.

Though Der Freischütz quickly became an international success, with some 50 performances in the first 18 months after its premiere,  it is not often performed in the United States today. A press release about Opera Boston’s 2008 production stated that their production was the first to be given in Boston in 25 years.

Not too long ago, an opera aficionado I respect, Roberto Romani, aka Opera Rat, decried the fact that the same operas are produced over and over again, in this instance, he didn’t think the Midwest needed yet another mounting of La Traviata. 

If some operas suffer from overexposure, and if enthusiasm still teems for archer legends, why isn’t Der Freischütz produced more often? Does it require perfect voices like Il Trovatore?

Despite its overall lack of production, the overture and the “Hunter’s Chorus” from Act III (“with Princely enjoyment and manly employment …”) used to be oft-performed concert pieces. The overture has been hailed as a masterpiece of brilliant instrumentation, providing listeners with keys to the entire work by announcing leading themes.

YouTube‘s queue wasn’t running over with clips. Here’s one of the Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester, from 1970, conducted by Carlos Kleiber. It is, in a word, magnificent.

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Filed under Classic Opera, Classical Composers, Classical Music, opera firsts

opera and premonition

Have you ever had a premonition? A presentiment of the future of the foreboding variety?   

I had one once when I was 19. While in the midst of a busy day acting and singing, I was overtaken that something bad had happened to my mother. I was studying performing arts in New York City at the time and about three hours from home. The next day, sure enough, I got a call from my sister that my mother had had a stroke and had been taken to the intensive care unit of the hospital where she was as likely to die as live.   

What is so striking about this premonition is that I’d never had one before. I wish I could describe it– like a pall I couldn’t shake until the reality of the premonition coming true jars you out of it. And my mother had rarely been sick when I was younger, so believe me, a seemingly healthy fifty-two year old suffering a stroke wasn’t anything anyone could have predicted.   

This week in opera history, Bizet will die on June 3,  1875, just outside of Paris at only36 years of age–of heart failure. While Bizet’s death at an early age is common knowledge, what you might not know is that the leading lady who premiered the role of Carmen had a premonition of Bizet’s death. When I read about the incident, I could well relate to how she must have felt.   

Celestine Galli-marie, who originated the role of Carmen

Parisian born mezzo-soprano Célestine Galli-Marié whose crowning operatic achievement was creating the role of Carmen became close to Bizet over the months of rehearsal. Only months after the show opened at the Opéra Comique in Paris, on the thirty-first performance, she arrived at the theater inexplicably anxious. In the third act, after Carmen foresees her own death in the “Card Trio,” she collapsed backstage. Not because something happened to her but because she knew “something dreadful” had happened elsewhere. The next day she learned that Bizet had died the night before.   

Galli-Marié was a difficult performer. Though she hardly originated the prototypical opera diva, she certainly was a standard bearer for the stereotype. Apparently she made Bizet rewrite the “Habanera” thirteen times until it passed muster. Perhaps if she hadn’t made him work so hard, he would have lived longer.   

So what causes these premonitions, do you think? According to one site I consulted, premonitions are attributed to the existence of paranormal capabilities and are thought to be “another fragment of the psychic abilities that everybody has, but not everybody may be in tune to applying.” Apparently, the most common method to receive a premonition is by way of a dreams, the rationale being that dreams provides us with knowledge our conscious mind does not.   

Neither Galli-Marié’s nor my premonition came via a dream. Have you ever had a premonition? Do you know of any other true-to-life opera premonitions?

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Filed under Classic Opera, Classical Composers, opera anecdotes, Performers, Premieres

a castle für Wagner und Lohengrin: wunderbar!

Neuschwanstein / Barbara Bosha

Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most visited castles in Germany and a popular tourist destination in Europe, was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, aka the “Fairytale King.” Located in Bavaria, near the town of Fussen, construction of Neuschwanstein began in 1869, originally projected to last three years.  But Ludwig II wanted the castle to be perfect, therefore  Neuschwanstein was unfinished at the time of Ludwig’s death in 1886. 

King Ludwig was an ardent admirer and supporter of the birthday boy (born 22 May 1813, died 13 February 1883), Richard WagnerNeuschwanstein literally means “New Swan Stone,” in honor of the title character from one of Wagner’s operas Lohengrin, also called “the Swan Knight.”  

Lohengrin, the Swan Knight

Lohengrin, a character from German Arthurian literature, is a knight of the Holy Grail sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue a maiden who can never ask his identity. In 1848 Richard Wagner adapted the medieval tale into his popular opera Lohengrin

Neuschwanstein Castle was built in his honor and many rooms in the castle’s interior were inspired by Wagner’s characters. The third floor particularly reflects Ludwig’s admiration of Wagner’s operas. The Singers Hall, which occupies the entire fourth floor of Neuschwanstein also contains characters from Wagner’s operas. Ironically, Wagner never visited the castle– he died before it was completed. 

Neuschwanstein Castle  looks like a fairytale castle but is full of paradox. Built in the 19th century in Bavaria  during a time when castles no longer had any strategic or defensive purpose, Neuschwanstein looks like something medieval. However, it was equipped inside with state-of-the-art technology at that time. On every floor were toilets with automatic flushing system as well as an air heating system for the entire castle. 

Meeting between Parsifal and the King of Cumberland Mural in Singer's Hall, Neuschwanstein

In 2012, Neuschwanstein Castle will appear on a €2 commemorative coin. It was the prototype castle for Walt Disney’s Disneyworld (U.S.A.)

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less is more in COC’s ‘Orfeo’

“In Robert Carsen’s haunting production of Gluck’s Orfeo Ed Euridice, less is more,” according to NOW Magazine.

And production photos tell the tale. The COC, Carsen, and his team have been lauded for creating a work with simple but by no means stark design.     

And the accolades keep coming:  Superb performances, especially by American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo whose  “powerful, plangent voice,” especially in the aria following Euridice’s second death, is heart-wrenching.       

“A magically memorable emotional and esthetic whole,” said the Toronto Star.     

“This is why we go to music theatre; this is why it exists,” reported The Globe and Mail.     

Lawrence Zazzo (lit) as Orfeo in a scene from the Canadian Opera Company production of 'Orfeo ed Euridice', 2011.

 

Lawrence Zazzo as Orfeo and Isabel Bayrakdarian as Euridice

 

Zazzo (foreground) in COC's 'Orfeo'

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Polly want a soprano?

Sopranos aren’t always women.

There’s the boy soprano–like the wonderful Michael Kepler Meo appearing in New York City Opera’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon. And plenty of sopranos pretending to be boys (trouser roles). There’s also the countertenor, or a male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of a contralto, mezzo-soprano, or (less frequently) a soprano.

Sometimes, sopranos aren’t even human.

My favorite non-human soprano is the African grey parrot who sings (or used to sing–sadly, the parrot died) “The Queen of the Night Aria” from The Magic Flute. In this video, little Menino hits notes I could only dream of reaching.

Menino’s performance was so inspiring, I  refer to an opera-singing parrot in honor of Menino, in a scene from my opera book.

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Filed under Classic Opera, DEVILED BY DON, Mozart, Opera and humor, sopranos

What’s your favorite soprano role in opera?

In celebration of Soprano Month on “Operatoonity,”  I created a poll to find out your favorite soprano roles. To see. To sing. Makes no difference in this poll.

Here’s a short list–hardly exhaustive–so if you’re not seeing your favorite, feel free to add in the comments.

It is interesting though that some of the world’s favorite operas and/or most performed operas don’t have soprano roles on this list, Don Giovanni being one of them. In fact, the Queen of the Night is one of the few Mozart sopranos role listed here, the other being Susanna from Le Nozze di Figaro. My oversight? Or do certain composers–Puccini, for instance–create more memorable roles for the soprano voice? What do you think?

Hearty thanks to Twitter Opera folk @operarules, @operabetty, @mitchthetenor, @amzenon, @SpeeStuck, @ChiyoX, and @ReeseSondheim for their suggestions. and also to OperaAmerica website, which helped me constitute the following list:

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Filed under Audience participation, Classic Opera, Poll, sopranos