Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught has dazzled audiences around the world in the title role of La Cenerentola, appearing in Rossini’s effervescent adaptation of the Cinderella story in Vienna, Munich, Hamburg, Washington, Cardiff, and Dublin. As she prepared to bring one of her signature roles to New York for the first time, Erraught spoke to the Met’s Christopher Browner about finding the humanity in this classic fairy tale.
With a role like Cenerentola that you’ve sung so often, how do you keep each performance fresh?
With Rossini, it’s not hard at all. You can sing a role 50 times, but you can always decide to change a cadenza or add a new ornament. I’m also influenced by what’s going on around me. I recently premiered a new production of Cenerentola in Dublin, and I spent a lot of time standing back and looking at the state of our world. Seeing the stress of the world changed something in the core of the character for me. My approach has become more about Cenerentola’s soul, rather than just her singing.
How does that change your approach to the music?
Let’s say that before, I may have sung her with Champagne, and now I sing her with the warmth of a good red wine. I try to let the ornaments grow organically out of each moment, rather than seeing how virtuosic I can possibly be. My tendency had always been to straightaway put in ornaments that go right to the top of the voice and show that I have those top notes. But this time I decided to be more vulnerable and stay in the middle of the voice much more, to be warmer and more honest.
What’s one moment in Cenerentola that audiences should watch for?
There’s no greater joy than singing the duet with Prince Charming in the first act. It starts very simply, very beautifully. Then, the 16 velocity picks up because maybe they’ve made eye contact and are falling in love, and that leads to loads of fun jibber-jabber and quick text. And then, they lose themselves again, back to the gorgeous melody. It’s so clever. And I couldn’t ask for a better Prince Charming than Javier Camarena.
The two of you have appeared together in this opera several times.
We first met singing Cenerentola together in Munich. I came into the rehearsal room, and Javi was singing through his aria. My jaw hit the floor. His voice obviously was a gift from baby Jesus when he was born. You could be having the worst day of your life, and that man sings, and you just live in a world of happiness with him. For every bit as delightful as he is to watch from the audience, I can tell you it’s ten times more delightful working with him.