Greer Davis Brown, one of the Florentine Opera’s 08-09 Studio Artists and ‘Iris’ in our recent production of Semele answers our questions: (first of two parts)
How does singing Handel compare to singing other composers, in your experience?
Handel is very subtle and exposed in ways some the “big” composers aren’t. You have to be very precise in every decision you make about the music, and since there is a lot of repeating music and words, you have to get creative to keep it interesting. There is a lot to keep in mind depending on how historically informed the performance will be, and it helps to have someone there who is well-versed in baroque performance practice.
What do you like best and dislike most about performing live?
I absolutely LOVE performing live. I love getting the audience to laugh, or sit on the edge of their seats, or get applause. Nothing is like seeing a show live, and opera is such a unique experience! It gives me a huge sense of accomplishment after having learned all the music and staging. On the other hand, there’s not much to dislike about performing live. Of course anything can go wrong technically in a show (the prop breaks or is missing, a costume gets caught on the set, the set breaks – all things that have happened to me) but that’s part of the charm of live theatre. Keeps us all on our toes!
What do you do to prepare the day of a performance?
I’m not a superstitious performer, so I don’t need to do anything terribly out of the ordinary. I go to sleep at a reasonable time the night before and sleep at least 8 hours. I try to stay pretty relaxed throughout the day of the performance; maybe I’ll work on the computer a bit, read a book, or watch a movie. During Semele, my mom came to see me so I hung out with her quite a bit. I am a tiny bit picky about what and when I’ll eat, since if I eat really rich food or if I eat too much too soon before the show starts it’s hard to sing (especially in a corset!). Then I warm up for about 15 minutes or so when I get to the theatre, depending on what I need to sing that evening.
What was it like to work with Sandra Piques Eddy (Juno)?
I love Sandy! A nicer, more talented person you could hardly meet, in my opinion. She’s a great colleague – so easy to react to, so funny, a great actress and superb singer. Plus she is fun to be around when we’re not in rehearsal too! She was also so encouraging and supportive of everyone else.
The Semele costumes were incredible! Be honest—how long did it take to get your dress, wig and makeup on? And—how heavy were they, really?
Read the answer to this question and more from Greer Davis Brown tomorrow. Stay tuned!
You can follow Greer online here.