This year's highly anticipated production of Puccini's Turandot will be unveiled at the Jubilee in just one month! Our production is complete with incredible sets, costumes, and a cast of superb singers — including acclaimed soprano Othalie Graham. This Canadian has made quite the impression across the US and beyond in her signature role of Turandot, and now she is set to charm her home crowd with an unforgettable debut!
Othalie took some time out of role preparation to talk about her upcoming portrayal of Puccini's most compelling operatic heroine. Enjoy her insights below!
We are so excited to have your Canadian mainstage debut be with Edmonton Opera. What are you looking forward to most about performing in Canada?
I am looking forward to singing my favorite role in my own country and I am eager to sing for a Canadian audience. Whenever I perform in other countries, everyone always responds positively about how much they love Canadians, so I am very happy to be singing in what is truly my home country.
What makes Turandot such an operatic treat?
Turandot is a very challenging role and the opera has some of the most beautiful, soaring lines and heartbreaking moments for all of the characters. I think that Turandot’s change from what people perceive to be imperiousness (but I interpret as fear within a sequestered woman) to finding love is one of the greatest moments in any opera.
Having played Turandot numerous times, how do you keep your portrayal fresh and inspiring for each new audience? What aspects of Turandot’s character do you relate to?
I can relate to her inner fortitude and her devotion to her father. Turandot is very protective of her ancestors and her family. Every time you re-visit a role it’s different because your fellow castmates, directors, set and production elements are different. It’s always exciting and since I love the character of Turandot so much, I look for new things about her character that I can portray and emulate each time. I also enjoy working with a team that helps me uncover something new about the role or helps me see things in a new way, and I am very open to that in my role preparation and rehearsal process.
Is there a particular part in the opera that you’re looking forward to performing?
I truly enjoy the entire opera. It’s so well written and there are big moments within it that everyone can appreciate. There are also no small roles in this opera and the music is so exciting, from the overture to the last note. Each character has many poignant moments, and with this incredible cast filled with gifted singing actors, I know the audience will be mesmerized!
Personally, when I portray this role, I always look forward to the heartbreaking moment of Liu’s death and Timur’s anguish. The transition that Turandot undergoes when experiencing this moment is riveting. In addition, Turandot pleading with her father in Act 2 really shows her vulnerability and her soft underbelly, and this also makes her transition in Act 3 more believable.
How might Turandot resonate with a contemporary audience?
Turandot is really a timeless love story about sacrifice and characters willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for love. Everyone loves a story where love conquers all in the end.
Use 4 words to describe Turandot.
Beautiful, imperious, vulnerable, loving.
To experience Othalie Graham's powerful performance as Turandot, purchase your tickets today starting at just $40! Act fast for the best seats in the house.