Hello, opera lovers. I’m sorry for the extended absence! It’s been a busy stretch and I still have a lot to tell you all about.
However, today, I’m back with a great interview for you! Recently, I had the pleasure of talking o the soprano Lisette Oropesa, a Metropolitan Opera mainstay who is singing the role of Gilda in the new, Vegas themed Rigoletto that premiered a few months ago. It was super interesting to talk to her, and you can see my questions and her thoughtful responses below. Enjoy!
How did you get into opera?
My favorite question! My mom was a singer and I started singing, but I never wanted to sing opera.I played flute and wanted to pursue that professionally. My mom entered me in a vocal competition and I auditioned. After that, I started to sing more and more and in college, I fell in love with the art form. Then, I gave up with flute.
When did you discover you wanted to be a singer?
I always wanted to sing, but I wasn’t sure it would be opera. I would write and sing songs about Disney and princesses, but the actual opera career as a choice wasn’t there immediately.
You sing roles all across the board… How do you manage your technique in each type of music?
Sing everything as bel-canto. Everything should be sung in the same technique. You have to find what works for you, not the composer. Portamenti aren’t appropriate for some musical styles. Your vowels should be in the right place and singing a clean legato line is the foundation of good singing.
Favorite role? Dream role?
I do have a favorite role. I had a great time singing Lucia. Every role in the opera (Lucia di Lammermoor) is so great and it’s not all about the soprano. Other characters are really important. The acting is fulfilling, and the whole opera is about the conflict, not just the mad scene. I would love to sing Violetta in La Traviata one day. I’ll probably have to wait another decade until I’m vocally mature enough to sing it.
Did you have a plan when you started out as a young artist?
When I first got to the Met, they told me I needed to lose weight. My first plan was to get physical health together. Vocal maturity comes with time. No problems in the beginning, except I was working with the wrong voice teacher. I would go to the Met every day. I would sit in on rehearsals, coachings and language classes amongst other things. I keep so many things I’ve learned from then with me. I learned so much in the (Lindemann Young Artists Development) program that a college could never have taught me.
How has running affected the way you sing?
I started running seriously two years ago, a little at a time. At age 14, I was the last to finish the mile and I thought I was bad at running. I was not built for it, and trained very slowly. The weight loss took seven years and I dropped more from running. If you practice healthily, running will not affect your voice in a negative way. Running helps stamina, breath control and keeps your connection with your body more intact. I didn’t wake up one day and say I wanted to run a marathon. It took me two years to do it. I love running and it’s my secret relaxation technique. Opera is stressful, and running helps relieve some of that stress.
What was it like to create the role of Miranda in the baroque pastiche, The Enchanted Island , at the Met last season?
It was interesting because Miranda exists in Shakespeare. I knew who she was, but it was a transition from the book to the stage. Our director was really into the emotion. There was not strict blocking and we could flow as people. He would call out an emotion and we would have to interpolate that into our arias and he gave his opinions on both the music and stage work. It was interesting to work with him, because some directors are very specific about cues.
What kind of say did you have with the music you were singing?
I had zero say at all in The Enchanted Island. I was fine with what I got. I had a score with a duet and an aria. I was just excited to be doing something with Joyce DiDonato and David Daniels.
Any words for young opera lovers?
Thank you for loving the art form. Thanks for your enthusiasm. Nothing is greater than young energy. Younger people have a positive outlook as opposed to some older fans who might be stubborn or stuck in their ways. I always look to see young, fresh face in the audience. It’s amazing that it can touch them and that opera isn’t elitist and you don’t have to be older to appreciate it.
I hope you enjoyed the interview! Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts in the comments below. Also, I took tons of notes on both the opening night of La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera and the second performance of Francesca da Rimini there as well. If you want me to post reviews of those, please say so below. Thanks!