You may remember Sylvia Szadovszki as the charming Rosina from our production of The Barber of Seville in 2014. She's now back as the hilariously wicked (or wickedly hilarious) stepsister Tisbe in our upcoming Cinderella. Read this New York-based mezzo-soprano's thoughts on Rossini's bel canto masterpiece!
2014’s The Barber of Seville, you are now returning to Edmonton with
another Rossini masterpiece. What do you love about performing in Edmonton?
was born in Calgary, Alberta, so it’s always great to be back in my home
province. The audience in Edmonton is reactive, which as a performer on stage,
I love! We want you to laugh when something is funny and we want to know you’re
enjoying your time in the theatre. You can truly feel the energy from the
audience when you’re on stage and during Barber I always felt an electric
energy from the audience. I’m sure it will be the same with Cinderella! Another
thing I love about Edmonton, or Edmonton Opera in particular, is the company itself.
Everyone at EO is so kind and supportive, it really makes the rehearsal and
performance process a lot of fun!
do you find fascinating about the opera Cinderella?
find the whole fairytale world fascinating. The fact that these stories have
been around for hundreds of years and that they are familiar to everyone all
around the world is amazing! I love stories that bring people together, and of
course I love a story that ends happily. Although there are a couple of
differences in the plot of Rossini’s Cenerentola v.s. Disney’s Cinderella or
other operatic versions, like Massenet’s Cendrillon, the basics are the same.
You really feel for Cinderella; she is kind-hearted, yet mistreated. You’re
really rooting for her to find love and happiness. I think the best stories
make you root for the main characters. Rossini is such an expressive composer,
he really knows how to showcase the sweetness of Cenerentola, the chaos at the
ball, the desperation of the step-sisters, and the excitement of love at first
aspects of Tisbe’s character appeal to you?
of all, I have to say that playing a sassy or mean character is so much more
fun than playing a nice one! Tisbe and Clorinda are hilarious to me. They say
the most ridiculous things, they are always trying to “one up” one another, and
their scenes with the “Prince” are so comical. I think you have to find humor
in their unkindness. When people are spiteful, as these girls are, it is always
coming from a place of their own insecurity. The sisters really play off of
each other’s insecurities. They are very self-centered and although it takes
them almost the entire opera to come around and admit to Cenerentola’s worthiness
of happiness, they do eventually show that they too have kindness in their
hearts. Maybe just a bit deeper down than we would have hoped for!
Is there a part in the opera you think the audience might particularly enjoy?
find Rossini finales so fun! The music is always completely chaotic but very
organized at the same time. My husband hates listening to me practice them, but
he can always tell when I’m working on a Rossini finale so there is definitely
something distinctive about them, even to a non-musician’s ear. My favorite
part in the opera, musically, is when Cenerentola is pleading with Don
Magnifico to go to the ball. I usually find another character’s music to be my
favorite part of an opera!
might Cinderella resonate with a contemporary audience?
think people love a sweet love story with a happy ending. I know I do! This
show has a bit of everything - first love, disguises, swapped identities,
jealousy, cruelty, kindness. You go through so many emotions in this show,
there will be a moment (for me there are quite a few moments) that every person
in the audience will relate to, no matter what age they are. I think for our
younger audience members who unfortunately have to deal with bullying in many
shapes and forms these days, they will be able to relate to Tisbe, Clorinda and
Cenerentola. Whether it’s from the bully’s perspective or the person being
bullied, hopefully seeing how these girls behave with one another will shed
some light on how hurtful bullying can be.
is kind of a mean girl in this opera. Have you ever been like her, or at the
receiving end of mean girl behaviour?
think anybody growing up has been bullied or has been the bully, in some form
or another. Luckily I never really had to deal with mean girl behaviour in my
school. In high school my best friends were guys, so maybe that’s why! I have
definitely said mean things that I wish I could take back, but I’ve learned
from those experiences. Nobody can take back what they’ve said or done in the
past, but we can all work toward being kinder, more understanding and more
forgiving in the future.
Now tell us more about New York City living. What does your average day look like?
I could not love New York more! An average day for me consists of doing my workout in the morning, taking my dog Mint Julep to Central Park, practicing, possibly doing an audition, catching up on emails at one of the many coffee shops in the city, and if it’s a weekend - checking out a new restaurant. There is usually shopping involved at some point during the week as well! I walk around a LOT and I try to walk down different streets each day so that I see as much of the city as possible. There are always new spots to discover, which is one of the things I love most of about New York. Things are always changing. If you’ve never been, you have to visit! It’s an invigorating city.
a scale of one to Tisbe, how much are you into fashion/looking good?
a full on Tisbe and a shopaholic.
Enjoy our 1950s-inspired high fashion production of Rossini's Cinderella at the Jubilee on February 4, 7 & 9. Tickets start from $40 and are selling quickly, so get yours today!