Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Interviews

Mark Padmore reflects on Britten's Death in Venice

“At the start, one knows ‘bits’ of it,” says tenor Mark Padmore, somewhat wryly, when I meet him at the Stage Door of the Royal Opera House where the tenor has just begun rehearsals for David McVicar’s new production of Death in Venice, which in November will return Britten’s opera to the ROH stage for the first time since 1992.

An interview with Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Oxford Lieder Festival's first Associate Composer

“Trust me, I’m telling you stories …”

In conversation with Nina Brazier

When British opera director Nina Brazier tries to telephone me from Frankfurt, where she is in the middle of rehearsals for a revival of Florentine Klepper’s 2015 production of Martinů’s Julietta, she finds herself - to my embarrassment - ‘blocked’ by my telephone preference settings. The technical hitch is soon solved; but doors, in the UK and Europe, are certainly very much wide open for Nina, who has been described by The Observer as ‘one of Britain’s leading young directors of opera’.

Bill Bankes-Jones on the twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival

“We need to stop talking about ‘diversity’ and think instead about ‘inclusivity’,” says Bill Bankes-Jones, when we meet to talk about the forthcoming twelfth Tête à Tête Opera Festival which runs from 24th July to 10th August.

An interview with composer Dani Howard

The young Hong Kong-born British composer Dani Howard is having quite a busy year.

Irish mezzo-soprano Paula Murrihy on Salzburg, Sellars and Singing

For Peter Sellars, Mozart’s Idomeneo is a ‘visionary’ work, a utopian opera centred on a classic struggle between a father and a son written by an angry 25-year-old composer who wanted to show the musical establishment what a new generation could do.

London Bel Canto Festival 2019: an interview with Ken Querns-Langley

“Physiognomy, psychology and technique.” These are the three things that determine the way a singer’s sound is produced, so Ken Querns-Langley explains when we meet in the genteel surroundings of the National Liberal Club, where the training programmes, open masterclasses and performances which will form part the third London Bel Canto Festival will be held from 5th-24th August.

Un ballo in maschera at Investec Opera Holland Park: in conversation with Alison Langer

“Sop. Page, attendant on the King.” So, reads a typical character description of the loyal page Oscar, whose actions, in Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, unintentionally lead to his monarch’s death. He reveals the costume that King Gustavo is wearing at the masked ball, thus enabling the monarch’s secretary, Anckarstroem, to shoot him. The dying King falls into the faithful Oscar’s arms.

Martin Duncan directs the first UK staging of Offenbach's Fantasio at Garsington

A mournful Princess forced by her father into an arranged marriage. A Prince who laments that no-one loves him for himself, and so exchanges places with his aide-de-camp. A melancholy dreamer who dons a deceased jester’s motley and finds himself imprisoned for impertinence.

Thomas Larcher's The Hunting Gun at the Aldeburgh Festival: in conversation with Peter Schöne

‘Aloneness’ does not immediately seem a likely or fruitful subject for an opera. But, loneliness and isolation - an individual’s inner sphere, which no other human can truly know or enter - are at the core of Yasushi Inoue’s creative expression.

In interview with Polly Graham, Artistic Director of Longborough Festival Opera

What links Wagner’s Das Rheingold, Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Cavalli’s La Calisto? It sounds like the sort of question Paul Gambaccini might pose to contestants on BBC Radio 4’s music quiz, Counterpoint.

Six Charlotte Mew Settings: in conversation with composer Kate Whitley

Though she won praise from the literary greats of her day, including Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound and Siegfried Sassoon, the Victorian poet Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was little-known among the contemporary reading public. When she visited the Poetry Bookshop of Harold Monro, the publisher of her first and only collection, The Farmer’s Bride (1916), she was asked, “Are you Charlotte Mew?” Her reply was characteristically diffident and self-deprecatory: “I’m sorry to say I am.”

"It Lives!": Mark Grey 're-animates' Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

“It lives!” So cries Victor Frankenstein in Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein on beholding the animation of his creature for the first time. Peake might equally have been describing the novel upon which he had based his 1823 play which, staged at the English Opera House, had such a successful first run that it gave rise to fourteen further adaptations of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novella in the following three years.

Unknown, Remembered: in conversation with Shiva Feshareki

It sounds like a question from a BBC Radio 4 quiz show: what links Handel’s cantata for solo contralto, La Lucrezia, Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, and the post-punk band Joy Division?

Remembering and Representing Dido, Queen of Carthage: an interview with Thomas Guthrie

The first two instalments of the Academy of Ancient Music’s ‘Purcell trilogy’ at the Barbican Hall have posed plentiful questions - creative, cultural and political.

Angelika Kirchschlager's first Winterreise

In the opera house and on the concert platform, we are accustomed to ‘women being men’, as it were. From heroic knights to adolescent youths, women don the armour and trousers, and no-one bats an eyelid.

Mascagni's Isabeau at Opera Holland Park: in conversation with David Butt Philip

Opera directors are used to thinking their way out of theatrical, dramaturgical and musico-dramatic conundrums, but one of the more unusual challenges must be how to stage the spectacle of a young princess’s naked horseback-ride through the streets of a city.

The Moderate Soprano : Q&A with Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam

Nancy Carroll and Roger Allam play Audrey Mildmay and John Christie in David Hare’s play The Moderate Soprano which is currently at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London.

No Time in Eternity: Iestyn Davies discusses Purcell and Nyman

Revolution, repetition, rhetoric. On my way to meet countertenor Iestyn Davies, I ponder if these are the elements that might form connecting threads between the music of Henry Purcell and Michael Nyman, whose works will be brought together later this month when Davies joins the viol consort Fretwork for a thought-provoking recital at Milton Court Concert Hall.

Garsington's Douglas Boyd on Strauss and Skating Rinks

‘On August 3, 1941, the day that Capriccio was finished, 682 Jews were killed in Chernovtsy, Romania; 1,500 in Jelgava, Latvia; and several hundred in Stanisławów, Ukraine. On October 28, 1942, the day of the opera’s premiere in Munich, the first convoy of Jews from Theresienstadt arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and 90 percent of them went to the gas chamber.’

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Interviews

Patricia Racette [Photo by Devon Cass]
30 Aug 2013

Patricia Racette on Dolores Claiborne

On a personal level, I feel that Dolores is almost like Emmeline grown up. Their circumstances are not exactly parallel, but they are both women at very different points in their lives whose stories involve dilemmas with life-changing outcomes.

Patricia Racette Speaks About the Role of Dolores Claiborne

An interview by Maria Nockin

Above: Patricia Racette [Photo by Devon Cass]

 

As Tobias has aptly stated, both of these women have made decisions that go against the conventions of societal propriety and acceptability, both to the peril of their own quality of life.

On Monday, August 26, 2013, San Francisco Opera announced a major change in cast for the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne which will take place on September 18, 2013. The title role will be sung by world-renowned American soprano Patricia Racette.

MN: When did you learn that you would be singing the role of Dolores Claiborne?

PR: I got official word sometime last weekend! It has been a real blur, as you can well imagine! The short answer is: NOT long ago!

MN: What is your concept of the character of Dolores? Is she more of a heroine or more of a villain?

PR: Definitely a heroine, of course! All joking aside, we all live as citizens of the world who face devastatingly difficult dilemmas. I have never personally experienced Dolores Claiborne's hardship, but I do find it relevant to address her conundrum. She DOES love her daughter; she does struggle with trying to make ends meet without the cushion that provides someone like her employer, Vera, with financial freedom. Dolores IS a victim of domestic violence, and her daughter HAS been molested by her father. Do we judge her for her actions or do we understand her reason for reacting?

MN: How does the tessitura of the role lie for you? Do many changes have to be made from the original mezzo version?

PR: This question seems to garner more response than I feel necessary! Tessitura is always a question for any role, whether for contemporary music, or for long-lived, tried, and hopefully true standard repertory as we know or perceive it. The original mezzo version is actually not definitively a mezzo role at all! It sits quite high in range with a frequent visit to the lower register, something with which I am frankly VERY comfortable. It is not unusual for a lyrico spinto soprano to enjoy great comfort with not only the upper range but also the lower extremities. Furthermore, it is typical as well as necessary for a world premiere, of which I have performed several, to involve collaboration between the LIVING composer and participating artists.

Perhaps the most exhilarating aspect of preparing (at lightning speed in my case right now!) a new work is the conversation. It's not about voice type per se, but it IS about voice and making the story tell-able. That is what any great composer does, whether in the nineteenth century or the twenty-first. The composer ultimately wants to make HIS/HER voice heard! This concept does not subscribe to the conventional categorization of what we consider vocal classification. So, to answer the question: the role of Dolores Claiborne written by Tobias Picker does not actually pose any big challenges for my voice that cannot simply be addressed with some minor tweaking to accommodate both Tobias's and my view of how to make this character come to life. Those kinds of changes were, are, and would have been relevant no matter who was tackling the title role. One might be surprised about how minimal these adjustments are. They are perhaps contrary to what you might expect!

MN: How long have you known Maestro Picker?

PR: Tobias and I go back to the genesis of his first opera Emmeline, the title role of which I originated in 1996. So what's the math on that? Seventeen years? A LONG TIME. And I, of course, also originated the role of Roberta Alden in his An American Tragedy for the Met in 2004. Apparently the first relationship lasted, which is always a positive sign in our industry!

MN: Was the role of Emmeline actually written for you? Are there parallels between Dolores and Emmeline?

PR: No, as far as I know, Emmeline was not written in its 'brainchild state' for me, but ultimately I believe it WAS written for me! My connection with that project and that part was huge for me personally and professionally. On a personal level, I feel that Dolores is almost like Emmeline grown up. Their circumstances are not exactly parallel (aside from their Northeastern U.S. settings and MINE, for that matter!), but they are both women at very different points in their lives whose stories involve dilemmas with life-changing outcomes. As Tobias has aptly stated, both of these women have made decisions that go against the conventions of societal propriety and acceptability, both to the peril of their own quality of life.

Maria Nockin

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):