• Second OL exclusive interview with Leah Crocetto: now, about Maometto II

    Dear readers, we have interviewed Leah Crocetto already, for her Il Trovatore at North Carolina Opera. She is an incredibly gifted young singer, and her interesting answers can be found [here].

    Now, Luiz Gazzola will have the pleasure of seeing her for the second time live on stage, in her Santa Fe Opera performance of the role of Anna Erisso in Rossini's Maometto Secondo, which Opera Lively is extensively covering, with full announcement [click here], an interview with Dr. Philip Gossett - Rossini scholar who is assisting SFO in this production (see his interview [here]), an upcoming interview with Luca Pisaroni (in the role of Maometto), and now a second interview with Leah. [Opera Lively interview # 37] Here it is:


    OL - Dear Leah, I'd like to ask you some follow-up questions on Maometto II to include in our coverage. But first, let me compliment you on your interview with Opera News Magazine. We are happy that we spotted you before they did! (laughs)

    LC - Dearest Luiz, thank you so much for the compliments on the interview for Opera News! It was great fun!

    OL - You deserve it! Back to Maometto II, I watched it in the old 1985 Pesaro Festival production, and watched it two more times in more modern productions. Anna's part seems excruciatingly difficult! She sings and sings and sings; it's a very long role with wicked coloratura. I'm sure you'll be great, but I'd like you to describe for our coverage of the Santa Fe Opera event what challenges you see in this role.

    LC - The role of Anna Erisso in Rossini’s Maometto II is one of the most intense, beautiful, fast, slow, acrobatic and multi-faceted roles I have ever looked at, let alone performed. While she does sing and sing and sing (she has the most music in the opera), it never gets boring and never sounds the same.

    And it is healthy singing! It feels amazing in my throat and my body. Anna’s music is glorious. It begins with a nice warm up, for the middle voice, in the aria of “Ah, che invan” and a nice warm up for the high floaty voice in the prayer of “Giusto Ciel." On top of the many many arias Anna has, she also sings many ensembles and trios, which is exciting!

    OL - And her final scenes are a tour-de-force for the soprano!

    LC - It is indeed a tour-de-force. She never stops. It is a dream for any soprano! The coloratura is dynamic and acrobatic and full of expression. It has a purpose. In the aria, “Si, ferite”, Anna sings about being wounded and in fact begs for it, because she knows she has a higher purpose and that this purpose is to die for her country and her people and only then will she find peace and tranquility. This means the coloratura has to be fast and arduous.

    Because the poetry used for this particular Rossini opera doesn’t extrapolate from much vocabulary, Rossini finished thoughts with coloratura, thus making it incredibly difficult and meaningful.

    OL - How do you understand your character, Anna?

    LC - Anna is a multi-faceted woman who is in love with a man as well as her people. She is full of honor and goodness, but also fire and passion, and is quite modern. She gets Maometto’s blood boiling in a way that it never has and I think that has to do with the fact that she gives him something to think about and stands up to him, and is independent. He meets her while her father is away, so he sees this young woman, alone, and yet able to take care of herself and meet his mind with her own. (but of course there is major lust-factor as well).

    OL - Is the opera hard on your colleagues as well?

    LC - My role is not the only difficult role in this opera. One of the questions I get asked the most, in interviews, is “Why do you think this opera isn’t performed much?” My answer is simple…It is essentially un-singable. Because of this, the SFO had to be sure to have world-class artists and articulate singers, and they succeeded. Pat Bardon, Bruce Sledge, and Luca Pisaroni are the best. There are no better interpreters of this rep than these artists, not to mention the fact that they are wonderful colleagues and easy to work with, and we are having a magnificent time putting this show up!

    OL - Please tell us what working with Luca is like.

    LC - Luca and I are very close outside of the show. We carry on like brother and sister and his wife Cate and I are very close as well, and because of this, we have no inhibitions on stage. We are like animals trying everything and anything to make this story be told in the most creative, interesting light. It is wonderful to work with someone like that. This makes the relationship between our characters (Anna and Maometto) all the more interesting and deep.

    OL - How is the production looking like?

    LC - Our director, the illustrious David Alden, has chosen to make all sides of these characters known, which in turn gives them such deep humanity. You will see a stark white set with many dimensions and yet, during the love scene between Anna and Maometto, we are in a red room. The gift of working with David, is in these details. He knows the score better than anyone and uses the music more than any director I have seen. Because of this, the story becomes fully formed and no detail is left out.

    OL - How was your preparation for this difficult role?

    LC - When I was in New York, learning this role, I had many moments of panic. Matthew Epstein, who brought this idea of Maometto to life, had to talk me off the ledge many times and coached all of my music with me and talked intention and musical excitement. He has “old school” ears, which means nothing gets past him, and he excepts only your best work, so because of this, I worked long and hard on this role and studied not only my part, but my colleague’s parts as well. I wanted to make sure to fully grasp all that is going on in this story and draw from the libretto and fill in the blanks with my own choices. It was an excruciating process that I would gladly do again!

    OL - What makes of this production such a special one?

    LC - Because we have had musicologist and Rossini expert Phillip Gosset on-site for this premiere of the Critical Edition of the score, we have another layer to work with. This will be a historically accurate piece with traditional ornaments and insight that never was made available before.

    OL - How are the rehearsals going?

    LC - This week is incredibly busy with staging ALL DAY...so tiring in the heat, but I am loving every minute of it.

    OL - Are you very much looking forward to opening night?

    LC - When we open on July 14, all of our hard work will pay off. The audience will hear this tremendous music and history will be made! I couldn’t be more ecstatic to perform in it, I can't wait!

    OL - I'll be there, watching you and your colleagues. Like you said, it's a historical occasion, not to be missed!

    LC - it will be lovely to see you again, this time in Santa Fe!

    OL - Likewise!

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