• Exclusive interview with Kristin Schwecke, young promising soprano

    Almaviva interviewed Ms. Kristin Schwecke, very talented and promising young soprano who is a student at our prestigious partners the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Almaviva saw this young lady performing the role of Alice Ford in Nicolai's The Merry Wives of Windsor. [Opera Lively interview # 24]
    She exhibited excellent pitch control and extraordinary projection, being able to be heard very clearly above the orchestra. Some of her peers had trouble keeping up with her powerful and full dramatic soprano voice, and were at times drowned by her. She is also a talented actress and kept the comic flair running throughout the entire afternoon. She never showed any sign of vocal fatigue or strain, and was able to perform all the coloraturas with flying colors – a spinto in the making? I believe that we'll be hearing from this young lady again, once she finishes her training.

    This is what she said to us:

    “At the School of the Arts I’m doing a Performing Artist Certificate. I have already done my Bachelors and my Masters degree.

    I was always exposed to music from a very early age. I started taking voice lessons in sixth grade in Wisconsin. I was in a children’s chorus at the time, and everybody at my church recommended that I take voice lessons. I didn’t really know what voice lessons were all about, but I went to see this voice teacher that had sung professionally in the chorus at the Metropolitan Opera and was the teacher that everybody went to. I was into musical theater and pop music so we worked on that. But then she steered me into classical music and said I was very good at it, so I started doing voice competitions, and she actually got me involved in my first opera. I was one of the three ladies in The Magic Flute in about seventh grade. And then I kind of took a break from classical singing while I was in high school and went back to musical theater. That’s when I decided to go to college for voice.

    Halfway through my freshman year in college I decided that opera was what I was going to go into. I think it was because I’ve always been a singer and I’ve always loved music. I found that classical singing and opera took the most technique and dedication and training, and I think I really enjoyed that challenge. Other types of music have come too easily to me, and I really enjoyed that part of it, that there are so many layers to the art form.

    I went to a small college in Wisconsin by the name of Carroll College. Then I did my masters at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then I came to the Fletcher. The Fletcher program is absolutely amazing, I’ve never been in such a supportive environment. We get lessons once or twice a week, coaching at least three times a week, and we have aria classes once a week, we get so much special attention from the artistic director, from the conductor, from the coaches, the teachers. It’s just an amazing experience. We always feel like they’re helping us to work toward that goal of having this as our career. I have been here since August, just a few months.

    The Merry Wives is my first complete opera at the Fletcher. We did a scenes program back in November. Before that I did a summer program in Colorado, and I covered the role of Mimi in La Bohème, and we did a lot of scenes there. I did a scene as Tosca, and a scene as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, and Marguerite in Faust. While I was at the University of Wisconsin I sang the role of Thaïs in the opera by Massenet. Mostly dramatic roles, besides Die Fledermaus, so this Merry Wives as a comedic role is very fun for me. I do have a kind of bigger dramatic voice, and lots of times the music that I sing is sad or ‘in love’ or tragic, so it was a lot of fun for me to be funny and witty and happy all the time. To portray Mrs. Ford I did some research in the actual play by Shakespeare. Alice Ford is a very fiery, witty, vivacious woman. She is in a loving relationship with her husband, but I think since they’ve been married for a while now, some of the spark has gone out, and in her daily life she is trying to find enjoyment and fun things to do, basically to just entertain herself, and since her husband is so easily kind of tricked, and easy to egg on, I think she usually decides that she’s going to play a trick on him. I feel that in this opera this happens once a week or twice a week, and this isn’t anything new.

    The quality of this production, this is another very cool aspect of the Fletcher itself. We have this Design and Production school, that… everybody that is making our show, this is their big project, the opera itself is our big project of the year, and in the other school, there is someone who is designing our scenery as their project, and someone who is designing our costumes as their project, so it’s just as important to them that our costumes and lighting and everything looks great because it’s a big reflection on what they’re learning at the school as well.

    The immediate future for me is that we’ve started the rehearsals for The Crucible. The School of the Arts is doing a joint production with Piedmont Opera, and it is very cool because it was written by Robert Ward who was the Chancellor, formerly, of the School of the Arts. He’ll actually be coming to see the show and will work on it a little bit with us. I’ll be singing the role of Abigail. Contemporary opera, vocally it’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s a challenging role as well, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

    I have one more performance of the Merry Wives tomorrow, and then I jump right away into the preparation for The Crucible; our performances for The Crucible are on March 15, 16, and 20, so, we jump right into it. The director Jimmy Allbritten told me I’d be doing this role about a month ago, so I started looking at it, and I think there will be enough time to learn the role. As soon as I learned I’d be doing the show I got the only recording of it and I’ve been listening to it ever since.

    As far as my immediate future goes, it’s a little up in the air right now. This certificate is supposed to be for one year, with an option for a second year. It’s being decided right now, whether or not I’ll stay for a second year. If I decide not to stay I’ll will be auditioning for a lot of Young Artist Programs, or possibly I’ll be travelling to Germany or getting some kind of fast contract, something like that.

    For my future, I’d love to sing the role of Nedda in Pagliacci, and I’d love to sing the whole role of Tosca since I’ve only sung the first act of that role. There are so many I’d love to sing… Liù in Turandot… Those are kind of the main ones that I’d love to sing right now.”

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