• The Exclusive Opera Lively Interview with Heidi Stober

    Our apologies for the delay in publishing this, but we are finally bringing to our readers a charming interview with soprano Heidi Stober. This is out of order since it is our interview #171 and we are at #190 now, but this one and a batch of others done in May of 2015 got in the back burner for various reasons that are not the singer's fault. We are slowly catching up to those. Heidi was a great Oscar in the Metropolitan Opera's Un Ballo in Maschera when we interviewed her in person at the Met Press Lounge on May 4, 2015. Her interview has a sort of human quality that our readers will appreciate, and it is very interesting, addressing not only that production, but many other aspects of her successful career in the United States and Europe.


    Photo credit Simon Pauly

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    Singer - Heidi Stober
    Fach - Lyric Soprano
    Born in - Wisconsin, United States of America
    Web sites - www.heidistober.com
    Twitter - @heidistober
    Recently in - Le Nozze di Figaro (Suzanna), Houston Grand Opera, currently - the last three shows in the run are on February 3, 5, and 7 2016.
    Next in - Die Zauberflöte (Pamina), Deutsche Oper Berlin, Feb 12, and subsequent shows on April 23, May 15, June 3, and July 8, 2016. In between, Alcina, title role, Semperoper Dresden, March 19, 25, and 27, 2016, and various other German appearances in Carmen, L'Elisir d'Amore, and a Lieder concert.

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    ARTISTIC BIOGRAPHY

    Stunning audiences with her sterling lyric soprano voice and incisive stage personality, American soprano Heidi Stober has established herself as a house favorite at leading companies on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Since her critically acclaimed debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin in the fall of 2008, Ms. Stober has cultivated a long standing relationship with the company, going on to appear in a variety of leading roles including Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Micaëla in Carmen, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Adina in a new production of L’elisir d’amore, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Nannetta in Falstaff, Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Princess Ninette in Robert Carsen’s new production of Prokofiev’s L’Amour des Trois Oranges.

    Recently Ms. Stober returned to the Metropolitan Opera for Gretel in Hansel and Gretel conducted by Sir Andrew Davis in an international radio broadcast and Oscar in Un ballo in maschera conducted by James Levine; the role also saw her return to San Francisco Opera in a production led by Nicola Luisotti. She made a return to Santa Fe Opera for her role debut as Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera, and debuted with Opera Philadelphia, reprising the role of Ada in Theodore Morrison’s Oscar, based on the life of Oscar Wilde.


    La Finta Giardiniera, Santa Fe Opera - credit unknonw, fair promotional use

    The soprano continues to return to Deutsche Oper Berlin for further performances of Pamina, Adina, Gretel and Ninette. Concert appearances include a solo recital in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, a return to her alma mater of Lawrence University for a recital and master class, both with pianist Craig Terry, and a return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s Symphony No. 4, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

    Highlights of Ms. Stober’s 2013-14 season included critically acclaimed performances at San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera as Nannetta in Falstaff and Pamina in The Magic Flute, respectively. Role debuts included Adina in a new production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Magnolia in a San Francisco Opera production of Show Boat. On the concert stage, the soprano performed Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Mahler’s 4th Symphony with Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin under the baton of Mark Wigglesworth.

    Having already taken to the stages of the world’s most important opera companies, Ms. Stober made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera during the 2011-2012 season as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel conducted by Robin Ticciati as well as a role debut as Zdenka in Arabella conducted by Sir Andrew Davis with the Santa Fe Opera. In 2010 she debuted with the San Francisco Opera to great critical acclaim as Sophie in Werther which was followed by performances of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, and Atalanta in Xerxes.

    Solidly established as a house favorite at Houston Grand Opera, Ms. Stober has appeared as Susanna, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Drusilla in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Norina in Don Pasquale, and Musetta in a new production of La bohème. Her 2007 debut as La Folie in Plateé with the Santa Fe Opera was a particular success leading to a continuing relationship with that company in such roles as Tigrane in Handel’s Radamisto, Musetta in La Boheme, Zdenka in Arabella and Ada in the world premiere of Theodore Morrison’s Oscar.

    She made her role debut as Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles with Opera Colorado, her South American debut with Teatro Municipal in Santiago as Morgana in Alcina, and role and house debuts with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Aminta in Mozart’s Il re pastore. The New York Times wrote of her New York City Opera debut that she “contributed some remarkable singing” as Poppea in Handel’s Agrippina. Ms. Stober made early appearances with Boston Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Central City Opera, and Utah Opera.

    Heidi Stober’s professional training took place at the Houston Grand Opera Studio, and she holds degrees from Lawrence University and the New England Conservatory. She and her husband, baritone and photographer Simon Pauly, currently make their home in Berlin with their son.

    DISCOGRAPHY

    Show Boat, San Francisco Opera, DVD and Blu-ray disc



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    Photo Credit Simon Pauly

    The Exclusive Opera Lively Interview with Heidi Stober

    Copyright Opera Lively, all rights reserved. Links to this interview and short excerpts are authorized as long as the source is quoted, but full reproduction without our permission (use the Contact Us form) is not.

    This is Opera Lively's interview #171 - by now we are at #191 but this one and four others got delayed for various reasons. The other four (#172 through #175) are coming to this area, while #176 through #190 have already been published in the Local area and in the case of #191 with Diana Damrau, it is part of our review post in her Les Pêcheurs de Perles. Our next interviews starting with a future #192 will resume the correct sequence.



    Luiz Gazzola for Opera Lively - Let’s talk about the page in Un Ballo in Maschera. First of all, the character seems to have vocal writing rich in coloratura, high at times, and there seems to be a need to shout a lot, in order to prevail over an orchestration that seems to be one of Verdi’s densest and loudest. It could be just the singer, but I watched a DVD with Pavarotti in which the page was a young Broadway singer, Aprile Millo; maybe it’s just her, but she was shouting a lot.


    Heidi Stober – [laughs] Yes, yes, perhaps; of course they have a different technique and style, which I’ve got to know more from becoming close friends with some Broadway singers whom I was in Showboat with.

    OL – I’ve never seen this opera live, actually.

    HS – Oh, really?

    OL – So my whole experience with it was with that DVD.

    HS – I’m excited that you are seeing it live for the first time. Yes, with Oscar, there are many things I love about singing this role. And yes, there is some coloratura in it; many people call it a soubrette role; there are some high notes, but there is actually a lot that Oscar has to sing in the middle voice as well, which is why I think it is important to have someone who has the agility so sing the coloratura, has the ease with the high notes, but also can find enough warmth in the middle of the voice because with the orchestration and also in the ensembles in the first act particularly with the men’s chorus, and the quintet in the end of act one, Oscar has to be able to get through other soloists, the chorus, and the orchestra.

    I’ve never felt a need to shout or push but I’m also very thankful that I’ve been working on this role since 2007, I believe; it was the first time I sang Oscar with Boston Lyric Opera, and right away again with Opera Colorado in Denver in the same production with some changes in cast. I’ve had the opportunity to sing Oscar many times in Berlin, and now doing it here is such a thrill!

    OL - You do get to rest during the second act and your third act return is brief so there wouldn’t be much vocal fatigue, but does it get to be a difficult sing?

    HS - Yes, you have the second act to rest, and the third act there’s also quite a bit as well, but I don’t find it difficult to sing because the writing for me fits like a glove. Oscar has a different vocal quality than any of the other principals with more of a sort of brightness or brilliance in the sound of the singer doing Oscar versus the other amazing roles. He brings something completely different with lots of staccato singing and agile coloratura, but I never felt that I need make something bigger than what I have to give.

    OL - While it is hard to see a lot of psychological depth in this character, stage presence is still important – the page does add some lively moments. Please tell us about the character and your take while portraying him.

    HS – I think that Oscar actually does have quite a bit of depth, at least the way I like to play him, of course if it’s in alignment with what the director wants and whatever he or she might envision with the character. Yes, it’s a young man, but Oscar is the one person in the whole opera who knows everything that is going on. He is the closest person to the king. Yes, Renato [Count Anckarström] and Gustavo are also close friends, but I think the page has the king’s ear a bit; he knows everything that is going on in the king’s life professionally and personally. When the king talks about Amelia in the beginning of the opera this doesn’t come as a surprise to Oscar, who is extremely protective of the king. There’s been some productions that I’ve done where there is the idea that Oscar actually loves the king in a platonic way, or even in some of them in more than that. I like the idea of Oscar not being just a silly young boy who comes in and annoys Renato or the conspirators.

    He does feel the weight of Ulrica and takes her more seriously than other people, even though in the first aria it’s sort of “here is the picture that Oscar is painting about her.” In the quintet with Ulrica, the conspirators and the king at the end of Act One, Oscar is genuinely concerned and worried about her prediction that he will be killed at the hand of a friend. When the king makes light of this and jokes about it, this is unbelievably frightening, painful, and scary to Oscar. And then of course we get to the end when so innocently, I believe, Oscar reveals to Renato how Gustavo is dressed up at the ball. Perhaps at least in that moment at that event, if Oscar had not told Renato this, the king would not have been killed, so the weight of that falls on Oscar at the end. Oscar can be played as if he thinks he has more power than he actually does. I also have often played him – and again if this lines up thankfully with the director’s vision – in a way that Oscar has his reservations from the get go with Renato and sees him as a competitor. So, I think that there can be more layers to him.


    The final scene, with the King's death and Heidi tending to him - credit Ken Howard / Met, used with authorization

    OL – Very nice! You surprised me!

    HS – Yeah! [laughs]

    OL - It must be fun for a soprano to have a trouser role, which is usually something for mezzos. Please comment upon it. How do you mimic the male body language?

    HS – OK! I love playing trouser roles. I’ve had the opportunity a number of times, actually; first of all, doing Oscar so many times, and a role I love doing, Tigrane in Radamisto in Santa Fe back in 2008. And also in Les Troyens I’ve done Ascagne, so I feel very lucky as a soprano to have had these opportunities, where it is not either a young girl Gretel or Suzanna, the witty and savvy maid in Nozze. I don’t know what it is but from the get go back in 2007, I just have felt such energized excitement about playing boys or young men! To me the biggest compliment I have received in the past or could receive is being told by someone – “I didn’t realize for a while you were a girl!” Of course due to my size and stature, especially at the beginning of this opera with all these chorus men much taller, I sort of look like a little munchkin compared to them, but I don’t want to at all have a trace of the physicality of a woman when I play these roles. Again, unless that’s something the director says – “Oh, I want Oscar to be a bit feminine” – I just want to find ways to, every time I get to do a pants role, work on physicality more and more, for example regarding our stance, how you hold your body, how you sit on a chair, gestures with one’s hands, even the way one might cock their head, the fake smoking in the show… I never smoked myself so I’m not so well-versed in holding a cigarette, and I didn’t want to come across as feminine at all while doing that.

    The other challenge I had was in the Strauss’ opera Arabella doing Zdenka is that I am a young woman but I have to dress up as a young man because my family can’t afford to have both of us up in society. That was really interesting, to try a new level and layer. From one scene where I couldn’t let the people around me know that I was actually a young woman, we’d have another scene where my sister Arabella would walk in and we’d be just the two of us in the privacy of our own home; then I would sort of relax but would still be wearing the suit, and I had to find ways to let myself be a bit more feminine.

    I’d be thrilled to sing Cherubino. Maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud, but I’d love to do more.

    OL - Please tell us about this production by David Alden. It is said to be inspired by film noir. What are the strengths you see in the director’s take?

    HS – In Berlin the majority of my work is essentially doing remounts. I’ve been to productions that existed as far as the fall of 1978. In this case you have assistant directors who work with a book with lots and lots of notes about the staging. Sometimes we are putting operas together in as few as two, three days, and there isn’t necessarily the time for discussions about the ideas behind the production. If the director isn’t there, then you can’t ask him or her questions.

    With this production, I had the pleasure of working with David Alden before, and I had seen the DVD of it and I’ve heard bits and pieces about it from various people. David was here for almost the entire rehearsal process, but again, we don’t necessarily have a presentation with the costumes designer and David and the sets designer to say “here is step by step exactly what we were thinking” and planning out, so most of what David and I spoke about were his ideas specifically with Oscar.

    I haven’t been able to have a full point of view for this show since I’m in my dressing room for Act Two and in other scenes I’m on stage, but I do think that this production works very well. There are some people out there who will miss having the traditional costumes and sets and staging, but what David has come up with here works for this tragic story, for the odd relationships between Ulrica and people she has just met, or the distance that Amelia and the king really do need to keep from each other when they do actually meet; he has those distances set up on stage; it’s not whispering-whispering in each other’s ears.


    Opening scene - Piotr, Heidi, and the Icarus painting - Ken Howard / Met, used with authorization

    Other nice aspects are the way that Renato and I interact and sort of at times do these face-offs, and the pictures that have been created with dancers and supers. There are some choreographed scenes that add this interesting flair to the production. I’m wearing wings at two different times in the opera, and the idea that happens from the very get go with the king and Oscar on stage is Icarus, flying too close to the sun until his demise. There is this painting of Icarus hanging above, and Oscar comes out and acts this out in some way for the king. Oscar rejects the wings because he realizes how dangerous this could be.

    I hope you will really enjoy it.

    OL – My expectation is growing. [See our review of that show by clicking (here)]

    HS – [laughs] Good! I hope so!

    OL - How do you compare the Swedish and the Boston versions of this opera? What is your preference?

    HS – I’ve done the Swedish version most. The Boston version I did in Boston and in Denver the first two times I did this opera. I think in the end for us the singers, even though there are some score and textual differences with the names, the heart of the story is the same. The characters are fundamentally the same, so I’ve done the Swedish more, but either way I’m happy to be a part of it.

    OL - Sondra Radvanovsky has already done the Amelia for this production that is being revived. Was she instrumental in giving newcomers some advice? Please tell us about the joys of working with illustrious colleagues like her and Piotr Beczala.

    HS – Yes. This cast is just incredible. I’ve heard so much about Sondra, and I’ve heard her sing but I had never had the chance to meet her before I worked with her. She is a lovely, giving, generous, kind, open colleague, besides the fact that she is an unbelievably gorgeous singer and actor. She definitely had some advice especially with practical things. For example, we have a pretty steep rake and the floor at times can be rather slippery, and in Act Three when I come to bring the invitation to the ball the set is very high up off the stage and raked, and after that scene is done the stagehands have to move it back with us on it. She said “sit right next to me and when it goes dark I will hold on to you so that you don’t fall forward off this set” and things like that, more of the practical side of things. Unfortunately Amelia and Oscar really don’t have very much together in this opera, but I’ve certainly learned from just listening to her. I’ve sung with many different Amelias and for me she is The Amelia.


    Sondra Radvanovsky and Piotr Beczala in the Met's Ballo - Ken Howard / Met, used with authorization


    And Piotr, I had also never met or worked with him before, and I think the relationship between Oscar and Gustavo is very important on stage and off. I’ve worked with different tenors, and when I have a really nice, friendly, and close connection with them off-stage, I do think that it reads then with the relationship on-stage. Piotr is a down-to-Earth, friendly, funny, and lovely man, besides the fact that his voice is stunning. He is so natural at everything he does! It’s so fun to play with him on-stage! Specifically when I say play, Act One is more of the playful things with us, and then Act Three, when I run to him when in this production he is stabbed, it’s hard. I have to be very conscious and aware of not starting to sob, because it’s so in the moment and he plays it so beautifully, and I think he is such a special person inside and out, him as Piotr and also as Gustavo. It’s so wonderful to meet him, and we have sort of a German thing in common given that we both spent time in Germany. His wife Kasia [Katarzyna Beczala] is so lovely, and also so easy to talk to and be around!

    Besides them, there are Dolora [Zajick] whom I’ve done Ballo with before, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Add to this maestro Levine, and it’s just a dream across the board.

    OL – Yes, I’ve interviewed Piotr and met his wife as well, then met them again in another opportunity. They are lovely people. And he is so intelligent and so professional! He knows opera so well! He is amazing.

    HS – Yes, and yet, we’d be just chit-chatting about opera at times, but then also about things that are not related to opera. It’s so refreshing to meet people who are so comfortable with themselves and are so open and generous!

    OL - I believe that Un Ballo in Maschera is one of Verdi’s most beautiful scores. Please tell us about the music in this piece.

    HS – Yes, the music in Ballo; the score is incredible. I do think it is one of the most beautiful scores that Verdi wrote. You start and have these moments, and then you think “that was just incredible!” And then you get to the next scene, or I sit in my dressing room listening to Act Two, and I listen to Amelia’s aria moving into the duet, and I think “this is just unbelievable.” Of course the way the orchestra here plays the score and the way Maestro leads all of us, this a dream come true to get the chance to do it in this way and with these colleagues!

    Verdi wrote so many wonderful operas, but I think this one is the one that is most jam-packed full of amazing, beautiful, breath-taking moment after moment. And then, of course, Oscar’s music I wouldn’t put in the category of “oh my Goodness, that’s just the most gorgeous jaw-dropping thing” but it provides such an interesting and wonderful change to all of the other music! It is fun and provides its own important moments in the piece.

    OL - Now let’s walk away from this current show and address your career in general, starting from your beginnings. Growing up, how did classical music and opera become your life vocation? How early did you get in touch with the art form, and was there anything in your family background that contributed to it?

    HS – I started out as a pianist, taking piano lessons at about age five. I continued with that through high school. I was singing in choirs, with some solos later, but I was never in musicals in high school. I started my voice lessons in my senior year of high school, just sort of trying it out after I had a solo in a choir concert. I had an eye-opening experience; sort of an epiphany.

    As a pianist, whenever I would perform in recitals or do competitions, I had such nerves! I loved playing in my parents’ living room with no one else around. Loved it; but anytime I had to do it in front of people, for people, or be judged in any way, I didn’t enjoy it at all. Then when I had this one particular solo in choir I had this feeling well-up inside of me that I had never experienced before as a musician and as a performer. It was just pure joy and bliss and happiness and adrenaline, and that’s when I thought “well, maybe I should just try some lessons and see how this feels.”

    I went to school, to Lawrence University which is a small liberal arts school in Wisconsin where I started up a double degree in Environmental Sciences and Music Education, specifically Choir Education. I was basically toying around with two different life ideas and divided between being a choir teacher and going into Environmental Law. Soon, studying with my voice teacher at Lawrence with whom I still study, I realized half-way through school “OK, I am going to drop Environmental Science and I am going to focus on Choir Education and Vocal Performance.” And it was before my senior year at college, as I was studying more and more to be a choir teacher, when I realized “this is not where I would excel as an educator; I’d like to work one-on-one much more with people.”

    Lawrence being this small school, I could design my own major, so I did Vocal Performance with an emphasis on Vocal Pedagogy. Someday down the road I would love to be a voice teacher. But then there was my first experience seeing opera and being in an opera, in college. I was just hooked.

    I come from a musical family from the standpoint of my parents who love music. They were in choirs when they were growing up. My dad was in a band in High School. They were not in a classically trained world.

    Everything that has happened along the way has been sort of a discovery, and a figuring out as I go along, of course having wonderful teachers and mentors and people to guide me along the way. But in some way it’s been nice that it hasn’t been a clear path of “OK, at this point I should do this, and then I need to do that, I’d like to make a debut here at this age.” I feel incredibly grateful at the opportunities that have happened. It all has been a wonderful surprise along the way.

    I went to the New England Conservatory for my Masters, then I did a Young Artists Program in Utah for ten months, which was all outreach. We did 250 school shows all over the state of Utah. I have friends and colleagues who say “I’d never do that; I have no interest in that; I want to be on a real stage.” But I learned so much about myself as a performer, because for students and kids of all different ages, you can’t phone it in for them. You have to always be really on, and also we were sometimes singing at eight, eight-thirty in the morning in a Junior High gymnasium and you learn about your stamina and the different challenges that you are going to meet in a day-to-day basis. I’m very grateful to those ten months.

    And then I went to Houston Grand Opera and was a Young Artist there. I had a wonderful teacher Stephen King there, and had many fantastic opportunities to cover, to do small roles, to jump into a leading role at the last minute, and I’m very grateful to Houston for that training that I had. And after that, it was working in the States and then moving to Germany.

    OL – So, you said you didn’t like to perform for people, but on Wednesday here at the Met you will perform for four thousand people!

    HS – Yes, as a pianist I didn’t enjoy it at all. Now as a singer, sometimes I have nerves, maybe the day before a performance, maybe a few minutes before I’m going to be called to the stage, but knock on wood, generally speaking, 99% of the time once I walk onto the stage I don’t have any nerves. I just feel so much positive energy, adrenaline, and excitement, and I think that that’s where I’m supposed to be. It feels very natural.

    OL - You decided to engage in an extended period with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Some singers have told me that a stint in these German-language houses where the young singer is exposed to a variety of roles in rapid alternation is essential to developing the skills necessary to be successful in an international career. Would you agree? Is that something you recommend to young singers? Are there dangers of early vocal damage in this kind of intensive environment?

    HS – I never had the intention of doing a Fest or being an ensemble singer in a house. My first audition tour in Europe was in the fall of 2007, and Deutsche Oper offered me a spot in their ensemble, on the spot. At the time I was definitely interested in going to Europe for guest contracts, but I had no intention to move to Europe or Germany specifically, so I took some time to think about it and do some things in my personal life, but I decided to take it, and I was incredibly lucky that Deutsche Oper from the get go agreed to letting me be gone quite a lot for my guest work in the States. I didn’t want to give up my contracts in the States with these relationships that I was establishing with the houses that I wanted to work with or wanted to continue to work with. They were wonderful about saying “OK, come; let’s figure out with the calendar that you already have, how we can make this work.”

    OL – So it was a hybrid, then.

    HS – Yes, exactly, a hybrid, which is not always the case. I know of some colleagues at various houses who also have that opportunity, but often times when you are in the ensemble, my husband being a perfect example, they essentially own you, and that’s not in a bad way, but you are a full time employee. My colleagues who are there for the whole season are doing forty, fifty performances in a season of many, many different operas. For some other colleagues it’s hard to get releases. Any of these German houses could say, “No, I’m sorry, we really need you here for this role or this production; we can’t release you for this or that although we know it’s a wonderful opportunity.”

    I’m forever indebted to Deutsche Oper for striking this wonderful balance for me and with me, and for their understanding when I was first hired to do my one performance of Hänsel und Gretel in December 2011, here at the Met. There were at least two different operas I was supposed to be doing at the Deutsche Oper at the time, and the powers that be at the house said “OK, we will let you go because we know this is really a wonderful and important opportunity that you have.”

    OL – It values their cast member as well, to have a debut at the Met.

    HS – Of course! And my first time ever performing Gretel was at their house. And then they could say “She did it here first, and now she is singing at the Met.” I’m also so thankful to Deutsche Oper for having learned to acquire a role fast, there, because here at the Met they just wanted me for one performance so I was not getting a regular rehearsal period. I had three days of rehearsal, and because Hänsel was double-cast, one and a half days with one Hänsel, and another one and a half days with the one I was actually going to be performing with. I saw the conductor Robin Ticciati; he came to one of the rehearsals and it was great to see him, but three days for a production, no time on the set, no time on stage, no time with the orchestra…

    Thankfully I had a few years with the Deutsche Oper at this point where I had this experience, like I said, of putting together operas in two or three days. My debut there was Pamina, back in September of 2008, and I had two or three days of rehearsal, two different Papagenos, and only met the conductor in the performance. My Tamino I met that night; he was wonderful, Pavol Breslik, and it was great fun to do this with him, but we didn’t have any rehearsals together. That’s just one example of it being very, very quick. They do so many operas and so many productions, and there isn’t the time to take weeks to put things together and remount things.

    OL – Is it dangerous? I interviewed Massimo Cavaletti who did the same thing, and he said “they prepared me for just about anything and now I’m recognized and have contracts with La Scala and the Met and so forth, but I wouldn’t do it again; it was gruesome, it was difficult.”

    HS – Well, I have to say, I think that to have my debut at the Met in that kind of situation – the run wasn’t mine, I never had a true rehearsal period – if I hadn’t had those experiences at the Deutsche Oper, I would have been nervous or uneasy having to remember so much staging i a few days and not being able to be with the set pieces on stage. I credit the ease and the comfort I felt in that extreme situation here to what I had been learning there.

    And I told Deutsche Oper when I went back, that at the Met I was asked “how do you remember things so quickly, and you just do it and you are on it?” I said, “I attribute that to acting professors I had, but it’s also something I had to get used so quickly at Deutsche Oper!”

    I did a Carmen in December. I wasn’t supposed to do it. I was going in for a colleague at Deutsche Oper, and Roberto Alagna was singing Don José. I had met him before in passing, but we had never sung together before. The Don José-Michaëla duet is a beautiful piece of music, and it’s not like we are just standing there singing a concert version. The first time we ever did it together was in the performance. There wasn’t a chance to rehearse. Again, this can happen when people get sick anyway, but this is more than normal over there.

    I think one has to be careful, of course. There were times there when I sang Pamina one night, Michaëla the next night, and maybe I had an orchestra rehearsal for one opera in the morning and had to do a different performance at night. It can be vocally taxing. But I’m so blessed to have had two main teachers but specifically the teacher I so often go back to, my undergrad teacher Ken Bosman; he helped me develop a very, very healthy technique, so I can rely on things even in extreme situations of being sick or being vocally fatigued from doing too much, that I’ve never felt that I’m in harm’s way.

    Rep things in Europe can be tricky. Oftentimes in general – and I’m opening up and speaking out of turn saying this – we hear people singing bigger rep than in my opinion people should; too early, perhaps; too soon. While I have been incredibly flattered and tempted by some of the things that have been brought up to me or offered to me, I’m glad that I’ve had my team and people that I trust with the wherewithal and the strength to say “Thank you so much but I’m sorry, not yet” or maybe not ever.

    I would love to be singing Oscar and Gretel and Nannetta and Susanna and these roles as long as possible, and if I start delving too quickly into heavier rep, that will be tricky in many regards. That is a long-winded answer, but I think that while there are wonderful things about being Fest or ensemble with so many roles, getting so many reps under your belt, and just having the experience of doing so many performances, you have to be careful.

    OL – For how long did you do that?

    HS – It started in the fall of 2008 until the spring of 14, so six seasons. So, yeah, longer than I realized!

    OL – So, more roles than some singers have in a career!

    HS – Yes, exactly!

    OL - Your Met debut like you said was in the 2011-12 season, as Gretel. You did mention the short rehearsal period but please also tell us about the emotion of debuting on this stage, and tell us something about your memories of that production and that role.

    HS – The emotion of doing that was one of the most thrilling performance experiences of my entire life. I still feel tingly thinking about it. Well, it was kind of wild how it came about just having one performance but Gretel is a role that I adore and is very close to my heart, and the Richard Jones production that they do here is very special, unique, and interesting. All the colleagues were so wonderful! Robin Ticciati was very supportive and a great maestro. It was really just thrilling.

    OL – I just imagine… Coming in with three days of rehearsals, just one performance, and then you stop in the middle of it and think “Oh my God, where am I? I’m at the Met!”

    HS – Yes! [laughs] With this amazing set and unbelievable orchestra! My husband wasn’t supposed to be here; he had performances as Marcello at Deutsche Oper, but a very good colleague and friend who was double-cast with him said “You can’t miss that; I will do the Bohèmes back to back so you can fly there.” He flew in literally the day before. My parents came here, and that meant a lot to me, because they they’ve taken to opera more because I do it, but they are not opera people who knew what it meant. There were different friends who were in town or happened to come for the show.

    It was just… I mean, this is just an unbelievable, special place. There is no other like it in the world.

    OL - I saw you live in Santa Fe as Ada in the world premiere of Theodore Morrison’s Oscar. I thought you did a great job. Let’s talk about it for a couple of questions. First of all, please describe the experience of creating a new, contemporary-music role, and tell me about your work with the composer.


    Santa Fe Opera - Oscar - Heidi as Ada - credit unknown, fair promotional use

    HS – New opera is just a wonderful unique experience, especially if the composer is around for the rehearsal process. Morrison is a dear, sweet man. This was the first opera that he ever wrote. When we premiered it in Santa Fe I think he celebrated his 75th birthday while we were there. I think the story is incredibly important. I believe many, many people when they think of Oscar Wilde remember his plays and his writings but do not know truly what went on in his personal life and the horrific things that were done to him because he was a gay man, being in prison and doing hard labor.

    Working with the group of people who did this together – David Daniels and Bill Burden who are very dear and close friends of mine – was a very special time. Working with Theo [Theodore Morrison] and John Cox who was the co-librettist was great, discovering things together and creating a role truly for the first time where you don’t have recordings and you don’t have DVDs and “well, so and so did this back in wherever year.” It’s liberating to create something from scratch and get to talk to the composer and say “is there any chance we could here set this word a little bit differently since it is above the staff?” In Houston I had the opportunity as a young artist to do a couple of different world premieres as well by Daniel Catán and Marc Adamo.

    OL – Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas?

    HS – No, that is what he is best known for, but it was Salsipuedes; unfortunately never done again after that. He was such a lovely, lovely man! I’m so grateful that I had the chance to meet him and work with him!

    OL – OK, but back to Oscar, please tell me about the piece itself. I do have an objection. My own opinion of it was that it was better musically than theatrically (choosing to portray the title character in too meek a way that I doubt the fierce men himself would have approved). What do you think?

    HS – It’s tough. We did it first in Santa Fe and then we did it in Philadelphia this past winter, and I do think that the piece… wait, did you see it in Philadelphia or Santa Fe?

    OL – Santa Fe.

    HS – Things changed. Of course not the fundamental story, but things changed in the way different characters interacted, and how we worked on different scenes together. Musically, I think Theo’s music is very special, very beautiful. Theatrically, there were lots of different opinions about perhaps there should be more of Oscar’s life before his demise, to see how high he was in society; and it’s interesting because I’m not very much in the second act which is the prison scene. Do you feel the meekness was throughout, or specifically when he was in prison?

    OL – In prison he was almost portrayed like a saint, in a sense, and I’m not sure if he would have approved of it. I think he was more assertive than that.

    HS – Yes, I agree. I think there was this desire to put him on this pedestal and not just be about the darkness and the hardship at the end of his life. It’s hard when you are so close to something to take a couple of steps away. But it’s very interesting because I find that people are divided on different points about how he was portrayed, about other things they would have liked to see being told in the overall story. I don’t know if I can say… it’s just tough. It’s just tough. I didn’t think of him as meek, but the saint part, yes. They changed the ending in Philadelphia, so it wasn’t as much this angelic hall of the immortals. [sighs]

    I think overall this opera was not about showing his strongest, his wittiest, most brazen times. Although, he could have escaped, could have left and not faced that prison time. I think deep down he knew that he wasn’t going to escape this verdict. There is a part of me that admires someone who made that choice and faced it head-on. I mean, Frank and Ada were ready to get him out of there and he said no.

    OL – Well, and the other thing is, we have to have the degree of separation, because many of the great operas have been revised and modified, and that was Morrison’s first one.

    HS – Exactly.

    OL – And actually great composers didn’t do so well in their first operas. For Theo’s first one, it was pretty good.

    HS – Yes, yes! I agree. I think he should be incredibly proud, for his first opera.

    OL – I didn’t know that there were some changes in Philadelphia. That’s interesting. Maybe in several years we will look back and say “what a great opera.” I actually liked it very much, but I have this one objection.

    HS – Yes, I understand. It’s always good to hear these things too, because we’ve all talked about it as a team, which was nice, and bumped these ideas off of each other. Hopefully we will get a chance to do it altogether again.

    OL - Another notable role in your resumé is Magnolia in San Francisco Opera’s Show Boat. I think you were delightful in that role. Please tell us about the work, this quintessential piece of American music. Is it a lot of fun to sing in a musical? Are there challenges in this artistic medium, for an opera singer?

    HS – Show Boat was the first musical that I’ve ever been in, in my life, and I was surprised in a good way when San Francisco first started talking to me and my manager about it. My audition was not a singing audition but a dancing audition, which made me incredibly nervous. I think Francesca Zambello’s production is fabulous. One of the best parts is the people who I got to know and became close to; Bill Irwin, Harriet Harris, John Bolton, and Kirsten Wyatt who all come from the Broadway and TV-Movie world. First of all these friendships, they became very, very close dear friends of mine. We learn and grow from these people. Yes, we are all performers, singers, actors but they come from a different place than I do as a classically trained singer.



    I think that it is wonderful that San Francisco Opera did this, and many other opera houses in the US. I’m doing Sweeney Todd this fall in San Francisco. I would be happy to do more musicals; of course more of classical musicals. I don’t want to start working on my belting technique, and I can’t imagine doing what they do, eight shows a week.

    OL – It’s much worse than all the ensemble work in Germany, huh?

    HS – [laughs] This is true, this is true.

    OL - As much as Show Boat is a high quality musical, I confess that I have a bit of a problem with opera companies staging musicals. Often it is done for budget reasons, since they tend to be more popular than opera, thus filling more seats. Still, I think that musicals are doing just fine with Broadway and the traveling Broadway shows and opera companies should leave them alone and focus on the operatic art form. I think that there are other ways to work on the budget problem and that staging musicals does nothing for the popularity of opera itself. I was talking to Francesca about that, and she is a big believer. She says, “Europe has opera, America has musicals. We have to do musicals.” What are your views on this?

    HS – I think that I agree.

    OL – But I don’t.

    HS – [laughs] That’s OK! That’s what makes the world go around! I was just going to say, in terms of this artistic medium, there is the back and forth from dialogue to singing. It can be very tricky because there is miking that happens. Of course in a huge house like San Francisco we cannot project while we speak. But you have to find places where you are not pushing on your instrument in a different way throughout all the dialogue, and there is one scene that I do when Magnolia finds out that Ravenal has left her, and I mean I was really wailing and screaming out in some way and finding a balance between “OK, how can I do this in a healthy way and still come from deep inside me in a gut-wrenching way but then also be able to continue singing on the rest of the opera?”

    OL – I mean, the objection is more philosophical than anything. Maybe I’m a purist, you know?

    HS – [laughs]

    OL – I think I’m not, because I’m so eclectic; I like everything from Monteverdi to George Benjamin. But what I think is that those classical musicals are great; they are beautiful pieces of music and theater, but opera is in enough trouble; it needs more help; it doesn’t need to fill seats with musicals but it needs to find ways to fill the seats with opera. Talking with Joyce DiDonato for instance; she says “you know, the best way to advocate for opera and make it survive is to perform great opera.”

    HS – Sure.

    OL – So, that’s my objection. Great companies like San Fran (which I think it’s the second best company in the United States after the Met which has an “hours concours” place), why do they need to do musicals?

    HS – In my opinion, sort of going on with what Francesca said, the American musicals – and again we are talking the classical one – to me have such similarity to what operetta is in Europe! Some people will say that the music in operettas and in musicals is not as high-brow; it’s more sing-songy, whatever someone wants to describe it. But Europe – Germany let’s say specifically – have their operettas; and we as our heritage, our culture, we have some stunning musicals.

    What my hope is and I know is what happens in San Francisco, I know with every inch of my body, is that the opera company sold that show out, and I understand where you are coming from, but if people came into the opera house for the first time and they were seeing Show Boat, and they said “huh, I wonder what else this company does!” I know for a fact that that happened in San Francisco. I’m sure it happened in Chicago when they did Show Boat there. Houston, Dallas, and Washington National Opera will do it next season.

    If you saw social media afterwards, there were people coming in for the first time and saying they would see something else. Madama Butterfly was going on at the same time, and again with my Broadway friends – some of them know more about opera than others – I was sitting with them at the final dress rehearsal of Madama Butterfly because Racette was in Show Boat with us but she was also singing Madama Butterfly, and a couple of them who really have not seen many operas at all, they were just shivering, tears coming down, jaw dropping; they loved it. And then they’d ask me “show me some of your favorite recordings; tell me what I should be listening to or going to.” So even amongst people I’ve become friends with, I saw that change. I’m convinced that it is a way to get people a little bit of a hook, and hopefully have them coming back for more.

    OL – Yes, but then there is the question of quality as well. I mean, when San Fran does it like this, that’s one thing. But I’ve seen musicals done by opera companies where the singers seemed unease, because it’s not their medium; it’s not really what they do, and they are trying because the company wants it and they want to be hired and the company wants to sell the seats; but I’d say, put Don Giovanni there, put L’Elisir d’Amore, and it might be a much higher quality of artistic performance than trying to do a musical.

    HS – Sure. It’s very tough. Now that I’ve done this one, and I have Sweeney Todd coming up, of course it’s hard for me, just like with Oscar. I can be aware of your point and of other people’s, who have a more classical take on this, but again, if that opens it up for some people who would never have stepped into that house…

    OL – It’s a good point.

    HS – And you know, it was a great mix. I was challenged in new ways as an opera singer. I did not sing this any differently. I sang with my voice. I don’t have any training in musical theater. Everything that I was doing was with my opera-trained voice. Of course when I was singing my numbers versus my friend Kirsten who is a Broadway singer singing her numbers, there is a complete vocal quality difference. Hers is fantastic too, but she is coming from a different approach as a singer.

    In my last piece on Show Boat, because I could do this, a couple of people from the company said “oh, at the end of the song, let’s try to throw in a high B.” So I do the B, and I’m being lifted up by these dancers at the moment… “You know what, you have a great D; throw in a high D!” So again, you are not going to get a CD recording or an old movie of Show Boat and have the Magnolia sing a high D at the end. But here, people can say “OK, here is an opera singer.”

    Pat Racette is amazing at doing crossover things, so for her doing Julie was lovely, and when she would sing “Bill,” it was heart-breaking and gorgeous. And I was challenged in new ways as an actor and as a dancer. I have to dance now in Ballo.


    Heidi doing a dancing number as Oscar in the Met's Ballo - credit Ken Howard / Met, used with authorization.

    Thank Goodness, I got used to some of this in Show Boat. Singing away and having to do high kicks… there are singers who will say “no, I have to think about my voice and I’m not about to dance around.”

    OL – Very good points. I insisted a little bit on that, because there were people on the web site that asked me to ask you this. They were saying “we saw her in Show Boat, ask about it!” and they will love your answers.

    HS – [laughs hard] Thank you. That’s great.

    OL – And I loved them too.

    HS – OK. But granted, we do have to do opera. We are opera singers. We are opera companies. And this is why my ten months in Utah meant so much to me. Some of those children were hearing opera of course for the first time in their lives. Maybe some of them in the rural areas will never hear it again; maybe not, but if someone sitting there had a little spark of interest, and now with the Internet they could go home and look on YouTube, I think outreach is another big thing that we need to do.

    OL – Yes. Let’s now talk about today’s hectic and cut-throat operatic environment; we talked about the short rehearsal times. Imagine; thirty or forty years ago, singers spent six months in a city, doing at most two productions.

    HS – Yes, and they’d get to see their voice teachers and coaches more often. All of these things have a blessing and a curse. Getting to work with all the different people I’ve had the opportunity to be with because of this hectic travelling around, being in different cities all the time… Maybe without all these short rehearsal periods, I wouldn’t have seen all these parts of the world thus far in my life, met all these people, and thankfully got to see people again and cross paths again. There is something magical and wonderful about that.

    OL – But are we in trouble as an art form? Is it becoming too much sort of entertainment-driven with HD broadcasts and all without the sort of gravitas that existed before? Is that, instead, a good thing and the way to go in this modern world?

    HS – I think it is matching the times. Living in Berlin, my first fall there in 2008, I went to the movie theater and watched an HD broadcast of Salome, and friends of mine were in it, and how special that I was seeing them live! Yes, it’s in a movie theater; it’s not the same as being there live, but again, it is great if there are young people or old people who are seeing an opera for the first time in a movie theater and they think “you know what, someday I want to travel to city X, Y, or Z and go to the opera.”

    Because here in the States if you are not living in a major city, as an average person it will be hard to see opera, whereas in Germany there are opera houses practically in every town and every city; it is much more available. And so if there is a young person who says “you know what, my High School graduation trip I would like to go to Chicago and see something live,” great. Maybe they wouldn’t have had that idea if they hadn’t seen an HD broadcast in the movie theater. Or people in my life as they get older they can’t travel, like my grandmother who is now 92, but in Louisville, Kentucky, she can go and see opera in the movie theater; I think that it is really special that she can still experience it somehow.

    OL – Well, being the Devil’s Advocate a little bit, I live now in a small metropolitan area although before I used to live here two blocks from the Met; but over there I’ve heard people saying “why should I go to the local opera company to see singers who are not as good as the Met singers, when I can go to the movie theater and see the Met singers?” The company has had empty seats because of competition with the Met broadcasts. There are unintended consequences as well. Maybe we are killing the mid-level and lower-level opera companies.

    HS – But I think that filling seats in general in the US in all different-sized houses is a challenge at various points for various houses. When a house is doing more standard rep, let’s say Carmen, it will be easier to fill seats than, breaking my own heart, perhaps a Handel opera. So I think these challenges will be there, no matter what, with the financial times. Again, I live in a different world now, in Berlin, seeing the government funding. Thankfully, knock on wood, Germany is still doing well financially, but it is a completely different thing. You have three opera houses in Berlin, all of whom are thriving in their own way, and we don’t go and do donor dinners and things like that because it’s mostly government funding or maybe some very, very big corporate sponsors. It is a completely different ball game here in the States.

    OL – And that helps in terms of daring more and being more experimental, because you don’t depend on pleasing your donor base, but also, it leads to some extremes, I’d say.

    HS – Yes. It leads to extremes, that’s for sure, but even still, I know that there are stresses for people who run companies. Yes, experimenting with things, bringing in directors who perhaps haven’t done an opera before, things like that, and if doesn’t go well, there is certainly heat from the government and from the funding that they are getting, so it’s not completely “do whatever you would like.” But yes, there are certainly more risks. But I think the audience there has gotten to a further point that extremes in productions don’t make them aghast. I’ve seen things over there that I can’t see being accepted in hardly any audience here in the US.

    OL - The professional environment and the art form itself have changed. How do you see the current and future status of opera?

    HS - My general feeling about the state of opera is, I’m a believer in positive energy. It may sound naïve or child-like. There will always be ups and downs. We’ll always go back and forth, highs and lows. We all, at least the colleagues that I know, believe in what we are doing. We are working hard. We want to reach more people, which is why at times things become more theater-driven. Well, again, if younger generations are used to just bombardment of TV and movies, there is still something to be said for standing still and singing, and that can be unbelievably powerful and moving. But there is also great things about bringing more theater and acting chops to the table with different productions. And again, it all depends on the opera, too. But I would hope that many people would feel on this side of the table that it is a good challenge.

    OL – By the way, I agree with you much more than I’m letting out. I’m wearing my hat of the interviewer so I’m asking about controversial points. Now, let’s lighten it up a bit. To finish, if you don’t mind, let’s turn to the person underneath the artist so that our readers get to know you better. You are married to an opera singer, the German baritone Simon Pauly. What are the advantages of this situation, such as support and understanding, versus the challenges, such as both needing to be on the road with child care complications, etc.?

    HS – I’m super happy being married to an opera singer. If you had asked me in the past, “would you ever think of marrying an opera singer?” I’d have said, “No way. How would that work? Even if you wanted to say that there is never a feeling of competition, of course there has to be; we are human beings, there is jealousy at times.” I wasn’t planning on meeting and marrying a German opera singer but it happened. I certainly have learned some things from my past when I met him and when we fell in love. It just made sense. It didn’t matter then that we were both doing the same thing.


    Photo Credit Simon Pauly

    Listen, he knows my voice at this point better than almost anyone else. He’s heard me do almost every role I’ve ever sung now and in the last number of years. He is a supporter but he also is someone who challenges me and I know he will be very honest when things are working and when things are not working. He’s helped me improve ten-fold, five thousand-fold in my German language, in general, and I have a great teammate and partner. It is wonderful to get to perform together, and be in the audience watching him, bursting with pride, thinking “I can’t believe that it is my husband up there,” but also to feel nervous for him, or when I hear something happening or I can feel something in him.

    He also got more and more into photography so he is sort of balancing both careers at this point and it is wonderful that he has something else that really drives him and that he is passionate about and very talented in. So we decided that once we had our son, that we don’t want to live a life apart, and he has said “you are the one who is doing more things internationally; we are going to go with your career at this point and have our family be together as much as possible and be together on the road at least 90% of the time.”

    OL – That’s great.

    HS – Yeah, we still get to go home to Berlin and perform together. We are very thankful for having sort of upcoming guest contracts continuing on with Deutsche Oper. We will keep our base in Berlin and raise our son together.

    OL – I met my wife at the psychiatric hospital.

    HS – [pauses, looks surprised] Really?

    OL – We are both doctors. We both had the keys and the badges.

    HS – [laughs hard]

    OL – We share the same profession. I can sympathize.

    HS – Yeah!

    OL – Yes, and it’s the same thing – when she is presenting a case I’m nervous for her and proud of her and admiring her. We supervise each other on cases. It’s been great, for 31 years.

    HS – Congratulations! That’s wonderful.

    OL – Like you opera singers travel all the time, we are on call all the time, and sharing the same field leads to more support and understanding.

    HS – I think so too.

    OL – Yes, and regarding the point you said about competition, twice in our careers we worked for the same hospital, and people hiring us hesitated because they thought there would be competition or some sort of other trouble, but there was never a problem.

    HS – Yes.

    OL – I’ve seen others run into problems. So it depends on the person, and the maturity level.

    HS – It does. It really does. And we both had come from previous long relationships, and not with people in our careers. And those didn’t work out. As you said, it’s all about the two people and their personalities. The fact that we do the same thing enhances some things about our relationship, but it doesn’t determine the factors of how we define us. Yes, we are an opera-singing couple.

    OL – So it’s the same with us, we are both psychiatrists. But she plays the piano and loves opera too. She is here with me and coming to all the performances.

    HS – Oh great!

    OL – But not to yours.

    HS – Oh no!

    OL – It’s the only one she will be missing, because she has a dinner with her former classmates. We went to school here.

    HS – I understand that.

    OL – OK, back to you. How do you cope personally and psychologically with the pressures of an international singing career?

    HS – Having my spouse, having my partner teaming with me and my son with me, it’s a good balance. They are my peace and my happiness. I have much happiness in this environment. Yes, there are challenges at times and ups and downs but overall I think – perhaps it will be a completely cheesy thing to say – but day to day I just feel so blessed to have the chance to do this; that I get to sing and make music and share this as my job, as my profession. And like I said, it wasn’t that I had a tunnel vision that I wanted this, or this place in my career, or this role, so I had a lot of wonderful surprises along the way. I work. I’m a determined person. My parents stilled in me good hard work ethics, but beyond that, I’m just in awe of doing what I do.

    OL – Yes. A singer once gave me an answer that you would like; you probably think the same way. Many of the singers complain of problems with raising kids, but this one singer said “people complain that we have to travel all the time; kids are in school and it is hard on them, but I opened up the world for my kids and I gave them the opportunity to see things that they wouldn’t have seen, if I lived in some place and had an office job.”

    HS – Exactly. I like the fact that Henry our son who is two years old has seen and lived in so many different places in the world and has friends all over… I wouldn’t say friends at this point; it’s adults; adult friends, but people who care about him all over the place, and he is so open to people in general! Maybe that’s nature versus nurture; maybe it’s a part of who he is inherently, but I think because we are always around different people, different languages, he likes being around people. He likes to strike up his funny two-year-old nonsensical conversations on the subway or the elevator or the airplane with people around him.

    OL - How are you as a person, in terms of take on life and personality?

    HS – I'm trying to be thankful every day for this, for my husband, for my son, for this career, for music in our life every day, being thankful that we have time in many different places to live, meeting friends, crossing paths with friends in various cities all around the world. I certainly wish at times that we had more time to be closer to some family members, but we find a great balance with seeing nieces and nephews or Henry’s cousins in-between jobs. I try to stay positive. I’m a worrier, also. I have been since I was teeny tiny. But overall when I take a couple of steps back and take a deep breath I know how many amazing things we have in our life, in our health.

    OL - What are some of your hobbies, or extra-operatic interests?

    HS – Hobbies, I’m a fisherman! That is my favorite hobby. My dad taught all four of us, kids. He taught us fishing from a very young age. He would probably say seeing you sitting next to me that I’m his best fisherman of the four kids. I just love it. I love lake fishing, for bass, walleye, and musky. I just love sitting out in the lake and doing it. It’s peaceful. It can be exciting at times. And then I take it home and my dad or my husband flay the fish and we eat it. So, fishing, running… I love to run. Books, movies, obviously playing with my son. Yeah.

    OL – Great. I think it was a very human-flavored interview.

    HS – Yay! [laughs]

    OL – I loved it.

    HS – Oh, good, I’m glad.


    Photo Credit Simon Pauly

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    Now let's listen to a sample of the singer's voice, singing "Meine Lippen" from Giuditta, in San Francisco:



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