She makes her Vienna State Opera debut this month (I Vespri Siciliani, opening September 9) and brings her considerable gifts this season to, among others, L.A. Opera (Don Giovanni), Washington Opera (Norma) and the Met (Il Trovatore).
1. A few works of classical music that you adore:
Norma; Anna Bolena; Strauss’s Vier letzte lieder; Verdi Requiem; Le Nozze di Figaro; Rake’s Progress; Rosenkavalier; Lucia di Lammermoor; Lucrezia Borgia; Giulio Cesare; Le Villi; Ernani; final scenes of Rossini’s Armida and Strauss’s Capriccio…and so many more!
2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:
Norma with Serafin, Callas, Stignani – 1954
Anna Bolena – Rudel, Sills, Verrett, Plishka – 1972
Vier Letzte Lieder – Eschenbach, Fleming – 1995
Le Nozze di Figaro – Levine, Te Kanawa, Upshaw, Hampson, Furlanetto – 1991
3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:
4. Music that makes you cry – any genre:
“Il lament di Federico” from L’Arlesiana; “Torna ai felice” from Le Villi; “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca
5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):
Mercadante. I had the great pleasure of working on one of Mercadante’s opera’s Virginia in Ireland a few years ago at the Wexford Festival. Mercadante’s music is somewhat of a cross between Donizetti and Verdi, so it was a perfect fit for me.
6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):
Sometimes the war horses can be overdone, but they’re war horses for a reason
7. Live music performance (s) you attended – any genre – that you’ll never forget:
The Met’s 125th anniversary gala – it was like being transported back in time.
Karita Mattila’s recital in Los Angeles in 2003
8. A few relatively recent films you love:
The Help; The Hunger Games; Brave
9. A few films you consider classics:
Citizen Kane; Gone with the Wind; Singin in the Rain; Casablanca; Fantasia; King Kong
10. A book (or two) that is important to you (and why):
I love to read autobiographies and biographies of singers and of the historical figures I play on stage. I’ve read just about every biography on Maria Callas, as well as Beverly Sills, Joan Sutherland and many, many others. I am also an avid reader of the Tudor era.
11. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re most proud of:
That I’ve stuck it out through heartache and rejection to make my dreams come true
12. Thing(s) about yourself that you’re embarrassed by:
I have a hard time remembering names
13. Three things you can’t live without:
14. “When I want to get away from it all I…”
I go to the spa
15. “People are surprised to find out that I…”
That I’m an awesome baker and that I aspire to design evening gowns and stage jewelry
16. “My favorite cities are…”
Vienna, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, London, New York and Wexford Ireland (it was so charming)
17. “I have a secret crush on…”
My boyfriend, although that’s not so secret…
18. “My most obvious guilty pleasure is…”
Expensive designer handbags
19. “I’d really love to meet – or to have met…”
Callas, Sills, Sutherland, Pavarotti, Margaret Price, Anne Boleyn, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Mozart
20. “I never understood why…”
Opera isn’t more mainstream. It’s got it all: life, death, fear, joy, love, war and peace. What’s not to love about that?
21. Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer to that question):
Q: Where would you like to go on a dream vacation and when does your schedule allow for it?
A: Bora Bora. I would like to stay in one of the huts over the water and swim with turtles. Who knows when I will have time to actually do that.
Past installments of 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS:
Albert Imperato, a music promoter who co-founded 21C Media Group in January 2000, writes frequently about the arts for various publications and blogs.
His new series, 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS, is his take on (and nod to) Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire." Email him at email@example.com.