How did you become interested in opera?
Actually, I wasn’t interested in opera. I really wanted to be a professional trumpet player. I played the instrument from the age of 11 and was accepted into two conservatories—primarily to study trumpet, secondly to study singing. However, when I was accepted into the Royal Northern College of Music as a singer (I will skip the long story of arriving with my trumpet to be told that the school of wind and percussion auditions had closed two weeks before, and I was there for a singing audition!), I was persuaded to go there to see if the singing would pan out!
Did you have other career aspirations in the works before you decided on singing?
Other than the trumpet? No.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge in the original production in Santa Fe, and how will that translate to the stage in Dallas?
Just the normal acclimatization at that high altitude. That won’t be a problem in Dallas!
How did the experience of The Golden Cockerel change your perspective on Russian opera?
It didn’t. I’ve done a few productions of The Golden Cockerel before. The very first time I ever did it, however, I vowed that I would never ever sing another Russian opera in my life because it took me so long to grasp the Russian…working with an unfamiliar alphabet and sounds that are alien to an English speaker’s ear. Then a few years later I was asked by the Metropolitan Opera to do Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, and I accepted, thinking it was in French, but when the contract came my heart sank at the line ‘to be sung in Russian’ Now I LOVE singing in that language!
I suppose my take away from doing Cockerel the first time was that it was beautifully lyrical. Up until that point I had spent an entire career singing Italian bel canto music and I was pleasantly surprised by Rimsky-Korsakov’s singability.
What message do you think the opera is trying to convey to the audience?
Ahhhhh. That’s for the audience to ascertain and perhaps discuss, afterwards.