Meet one of the Stars! Meet soprano Rachel Sterrenberg, who will be making her Dallas Opera debut in La Traviata as Annina, Violetta’s maid.
When you heard the news that you’d been cast in this role, what were your thoughts on making your Dallas Opera debut?
My first thought was how FUN this will be to spend some time in a part of the country I have not yet explored! I have heard nothing but wonderful things about The Dallas Opera, and I know the city itself has so much to offer. Something awesome I learned this past week is that Dallas has the longest consecutive Arts District in the entire country! I think that is amazing; so much to culturally explore for the city’s residents and visitors.
How do you prepare yourself for a role and do you have any advice for young singers on how to approach a new piece of music?
For a new role, I always look at the words first. What the storyline is and where my character fits into that story. If the piece is in another language (which is usually the case in opera!), I will then translate the piece and work through the diction and correct pronunciation for my lines and lyrics. Next, I dive into the music!! At this point, I will have noticed in the music score which areas seem to show the most vocal challenge, so I start at that point, then move through the piece in that order.
What is your favorite role to perform and are there any roles you dream of performing someday?
So far, my favorite role I have performed is a close tie: Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carméites and Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. I just love the journeys these two characters take, and the music is GLORIOUS! As of right now, my dreams roles are Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon. But to be fair, my dreams roles change all the time!!
Who is the singer you admire the most and why?
Two singers come to mind who are current international stars. Joyce DiDonato and Sondra Radvanovsky are such honest, giving musicians and artists. I think the vulnerability these two particular women show in their work on stage (and off!) is exactly what modern audiences need!
How did you come to realize you wanted to be an opera singer?
I was not really introduced to opera and the concept of being an opera singer as a career until college. I was a music major at the University of Kentucky, and had incredible mentors who taught me a solid vocal technique and opera education. I caught the bug and have not looked back since!
What is your earliest memory of opera?
My grandmother really likes opera, so I think my earliest memory was likely a CD or record of her playing opera in their home when I was really young!
What are you most excited about for this production?
I am so thrilled to be singing with such incredible colleagues!! Georgia Jarman, René Barbera, and the entire group are incredible artists, and it is always very inspiring to be alongside people of such talent. My character, Annina is one of the smalller (but mighty!) roles in the production, so I get to spend a lot of time observing my cast-mates. I end up learning so much in opportunities like this!
What is your favorite piece of music right now?
The album that has been on repeat on my iPhone lately has actually been the opposite of opera!! Chance the Rapper’s latest album is so catchy and fun; it is my go-to! In terms of classical music, Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande has been a favorite on my Spotify!
What do you do in your spare time when you are not singing?
I love cooking, I love plants, and I love yoga! I think when you spend so much of your time traveling and being away from home as an opera singer, doing “home” things becomes a very joyful experience. My husband and I have a huge collection of indoor plants and succulents, and yoga is a daily practice that has become a huge mainstay in my life. Namaste!
Is this your first time in Dallas? Are you enjoying your time here? What’s been your favorite experience while visiting?
This is my first time staying in Dallas! I have family who live in Grapevine, so whenever I have come to visit in the past, it has been in the outskirts of the actual city. So far, I am loving Dallas! This town is humongous and has just about anything you could think of to offer visitors. I love food, so obviously the incredible food scene in Dallas has been a big treat for me! My favorite type of food is Mexican, so I think I am in just about the best part of the country for that. I am also looking forward to exploring the art museums downtown once we move the production to the Winspear Opera House!