Hometown: Madison, WI
1. What was your favorite experience last season?
I’d say my favorite experience was going into the schools and performing for the kids in our production of “Jack and the Beanstalk.” All of the kids were wonderful, and it was very rewarding to see them so invested in an opera at such a young age. That and it was fun to stomp around in giant boots and give the kids an occasional (mild) scare.
2. What are you excited to experience during the 2010-2011 season?
I’m very excited to come back and jump straight into things this year. Of course doing a world premiere is always an adventure, and the opportunity to perform a more featured role in The Italian Girl in Algiers is high on my list. I’m actually most excited to come back and explore the city more. Now that I’ve familiarized myself with the basic layout of the city, I want to try and explore a little more, and find some more secluded spots that might not be so mainstream.
3. What did you do on your summer ‘vacation’?
I’m not sure if I would call it a ‘vacation’ or not. I was up in the mountains, with wonderful scenery, wonderful weather, and wonderful people, but I was most definitely working hard. Last season, the Florentine closed Rigoletto on the 23rd of May, and I started rehearsals with the Central City Opera Company in Central City, CO on the 25th, so it was a bit of a quick turnaround, but it was an amazing summer. I was involved in a production of Madama Butterfly as Prince Yamadori, and I covered Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld.
4. What did you like about living in Milwaukee?
I loved that Milwaukee has its own feel to it. It’s a big city, but it normally doesn’t feel that way, so you don’t feel intimidated by giant buildings or subway systems (although I can’t lie, a subway system would be nice!).
5. Is there anything you didn’t have a chance to do in Milwaukee last season that is on your must-do list now?
Top of that list would be taking a Brewery Tour. It’s something that I wanted to do all last year but never found quite the right time for.
6. What are you listening to lately?
I’ve been going back to my high school days lately, listening to an artist named Tony Lucca, somebody my sister introduced me to, as well as a lot of classic rock on the radio.
7. What’s your best backstage story or the craziest thing that has happened to you while performing?
This one comes from the past season at the Florentine, actually. During our run of Elmer Gantry, I had a very fast quick-change at the end of the show, going from some overalls to a pure white suit in the space of about 45 seconds. On opening night, I came offstage, shedding clothes as I went, only to find my quick-change station completely devoid of clothes and dressers. Needless to say I was a bit panicked, but the dressers got there quickly and the singers on stage adapted on the fly to do what was necessary. At the time it was a bit stressful, but now it’s something to look back on fondly and laugh about.
8. How do you approach preparing to perform in a world premiere like Río de Sangre, vs. preparing to appear in an established role?
There are a number of differences, one being the lack of any precedent. If you are preparing a role like Figaro in The Barber of Seville, you have a hundred years of performances to look back on and see what has become accepted as part of the role, and you are able to pick and choose other mannerisms or ornamentations that you like from a sea of options. Discovering some of these can be pretty exciting as a young singer. On the other hand, preparing a world premiere can be just as exciting, if not more so, because there isn’t anything else to draw from. You get to create a role, you get to talk about it with the composer, you might get to discuss it with the librettist and get insights on the character. As far as notes on the page go, everybody has a different style, and it can certainly be more difficult to learn new music without a reference point, but that challenge is part of the fun.
9. How do you convince friends and family who have never seen an opera to give it a try?
A lot of times it simply has to do with breaking down stereotypes in people’s mind. So many people have an idea of a soprano singing something loud and high while wearing a Viking helmet on her head, or a bunch of people standing in place on stage just singing at each other. Opera is so much more than that, and if you can get someone to believe that, it usually takes care of itself.
10. Do you sing in the shower?
All the time (sorry neighbors!!)