Over the course of three performances, Edmonton audiences will become familiar with the stories of Almaviva, Rosina, Bartolo, Basilio and Figaro, along with other characters that they pull into the drama of The Barber of Seville (Oct. 25, 28 and 30). But what about the stories of the opera singers behind these characters? Through a series of blog posts, we'll share some of the most interesting answers that members of the cast have submitted.
What first interested you in opera?
I have loved expressing myself through singing since I was five years old and I have always admired people who have the courage to be performing on a stage. I saw my first musical at age eight and knew I wanted to be up on stage someday. The grandeur of the sets, the costumes and the orchestra is what drew me into the opera world. The ability of the human voice to convey so much emotion is what astounds me in opera and keeps me interested. - Sylvia Szadovszki, Rosina
The natural way of projecting the voice. -Alexandre Sylvestre, Bartolo
When I first went to college for music, my instructor loved opera and shared her love with me. -Cara Brown, Berta
I first became interested in opera mid-way through my BMus, around the time when I took my first voice lessons. If I were to pick a moment when I realized how great opera can be, it was on my first-year listening exam for music history. The surprise excerpt, which turned out to be Birgit Nielsen singing the Liebestot, from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, had me weeping, completely overwhelmed. - Phillip Addis, Figaro
Opera got under my skin at age 16, after seeing Carmen in Vancouver. I disliked it, actually! But a few years later, my college music history teacher suggested I join the chorus at Pacific Opera Victoria for their production of Eugene Onegin. I'd never spoken in Russian before, much less tried to sing it, and here I was, dancing Russian folk dances and living in Pushkin's world. The opera bug bit, and continues to bite me every time I open a score. -Aaron Durand, Fiorello/Sergeant
I started singing in musicals and school choirs when I was a kid. But when I started my music degree in university, it was a piano major. I discovered opera in my school's music library, watching opera films and recordings of live performances — Theresa Stratas in La Traviata and Salome, Placido Domingo in Carmen. Seeing the video of The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano, which the Metropolitan Opera commissioned in the early '90s, had a big impact on me. I was immediately struck by the theatrical possibilities of opera, which I had never been exposed to before. When I finally heard a recording of Jussi Bjorling singing Una furtiva lagrima (the famous tenor aria from l'Elisir d'amore), I got hooked on the sound of the operatic voice. Something about it just resonates deeper inside of you than any other type of singing or instrument. And when it's coupled with great acting, opera is just a phenomenal experience. -James McLennan, Almaviva