Soprano Simone Osborne makes her role and company debut at Edmonton Opera in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor this April. The Canadian soprano is an alumna of the esteemed Canadian Opera Company Studio Ensemble, and was one of the youngest winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.
Have you performed in Edmonton before?
Yes, I have performed in Edmonton before. The first time I was here as a young student taking part in the Opera NUOVA summer training program. I was only 20 years old but had the opportunity to sing the title role in the Czech opera The Bartered Bride. I spent an incredible summer in Edmonton, learned a whole lot of Czech and explored all of the amazing shopping on Whyte Ave. The second time was shortly after that, I had just won the Metropolitan National Council auditions in New York and a big season of engagements came my way. One of them was with Edmonton Symphony Orchestra singing Bach and Mozart. It was a wonderful experience and I was happy to be back in Edmonton.
Do you have a personal connection with Lucia di Lammermoor?
This is a big role debut for me. That comes with some extra excitement. I remember being an undergrad student and picking up an anthology of coloratura arias. I was skimming through it, and came to Lucia's mad scene. I distinctly remember thinking, "Oh, I could never sing that ..." It was so high, so exposed, so many notes! Hopefully, opening night in Edmonton ... it will remind me never say never!
Please describe your character.
Lucia is a young, passionate woman torn between great love and a great sense of duty to her family. She is pushed to the brink over the course of the opera and loses her mind — literally! Cue 20-minute mad scene ...
What first interested you in opera?
When i first started singing lessons I just loved to sing. But when I was introduced to classical music, I fell in love with the challenges the languages and styles presented and the technical ability it took to master the craft of classical singing. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment?
Is there anything else interesting we should know about you?
I'm half Iranian, half Icelandic. My seven-pound Morkie, Gatsby, travels the world with me when I am working.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
I like to wake up as late as possible, go for a nice walk to start my day, do some yoga and stretching to prepare for the evening show. There's lots of hydrating and a good protein-filled meal before heading to the theatre. Every night I stop in the wings, before my first entrance, and thank my lucky stars for the opportunity to step out on that stage ...
Which movie would make a great opera?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Although Zoolander the opera might prove to be comedic.
Which composer is your favourite and why?
That's an impossible question! Mozart, Verdi, Debussy, Schumann, Stravinsky ... I tend to fall in love with whatever I am working on at the time, but it would be impossible pick a favourite.
What is the biggest challenge with being an opera singer?
The most difficult part of what we do is definitely being away from home for important life events. It's hard to keep personal relationships, even family and good friendships together when one spends most of the year on the road, living out of suitcases. I have missed countless birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and celebrations when I was away on a job. But I try to always look on the bright side and be grateful for the opportunity to see the world while doing something I love.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I never understood this piece of advice when I was a younger singer, but it really is true: unless you have to sing opera, find something else to pursue. This is a gruelling, all-encompassing career. If you do decide to follow your dream, keep your head down, work as hard as you possibly can. Don't worry about what everyone is doing or singing, just stick to your own, individual path and work to become the best musician and artist you can be.
"Lucia di Lammermoor" is at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium April 18 (8 p.m.), April 21 (7:30 p.m.) and April 23 (7:30 p.m.). Tickets start at $40 and can be purchased online at edmontonopera.com or by calling the box office at 780.429.1000.