Name: Julia Elise Hardin, mezzo soprano
Hometown: Lawrence, KS
How did you first become interested in singing?
Teachers at my grade school heard me singing in 4th grade school choir; from there I started to take lessons, and sang with the Lawrence Children’s Choir. Music has always been a large part of my life; I sort of fell into classical singing by way of performing musical theater and acting. I never thought I’d be involved in opera.
Where/with whom have you studied?
Since I started serious study as an undergrad, I have really had only one teacher. Pamela Hinchman was at KU while I was a Theater/Voice degree, and then transferred to Northwestern where I followed after taking a year off for acting jobs; she finally convinced me to switch to complete classical study.
What is your favorite opera and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, depends on my daily mood, I suppose. I’m pretty partial to Mozart. After working on La clemenza di Tito, I completely fell in love with the score and the story. It’s nice, too, when such a fantastic opera has so many wonderful opportunities for women.
What is your dream role?
I’d love to do the Komponist, or Octavian. Strauss is one of the great musical guilty pleasures, I think.
If you could have dinner with any composer, who would you choose and why?
John Adams – he’s not dead, plus he was a lot of fun when he conducted the Flowering Tree I did with Chicago Opera Theater a couple of years ago.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I normally become very tense and nervous ticks pop up. Lately I’ve been doing meditations on some affirmations pre-performing. It has actually created a kind of serene focus for auditions and shows, so much so that I am beginning to introduce it into my every-day schedule.
What has been your most unusual performance to date and why?
This fall and spring I did a performance project for a friend of mine who has a little opera company in Chicago. We did a 4 character story-based production of Schumann’s Liederkreis op.39. It was truly bizarre in both concept and execution, but a darn good time for both the performers and audience.
If you were tone-deaf, what would your dream job be?
Food is my other passion, I am a committed foodie. I think it would be interesting to be a food critic, you hold a lot of cards being a critic (and those in the position should remember that). Plus, all the free food would be fantastic.
What’s on your Ipod right now?
I just got off a plane, so right now it has a bunch of episodes of the TV show No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. Music includes some Schumann and Brahms lieder, Britten’s Beggar’s Opera (which I did over the summer in Virginia), Once soundtrack, Andrew Bird, Led Zeppelin, Karrin Allyson, and Steve Martin’s new banjo CD. I’m a total mutt when it comes to what I listen to throughout the day.
What are you most excited to do in Milwaukee?
Other than being able to work at this wonderful company, I’m really excited about seeing the Milwaukee Art Museum—we didn’t get a chance to visit before. We also had a wonderful meal the last trip, I’m looking forward to exploring the local restaurants.
Anything else we should know?:
I’ve been married for three years; we have three cats, which we think equals about a whole child. I have five much older siblings, none of which are in the performing arts, though we do have a painter in the family. My Dad recently retired after teaching over 40 years in the English Department at KU; my earliest performance memory was seeing Shakespeare’s Macbeth with him and my mom in England, I was 5.
Tomorrow on Many Voices: Learn which famous Milwaukee treat tenor Aaron Blankfield can’t wait to try….in the meantime, Learn about Studio Artist Sarah Lewis Jones (soprano).