NY City Opera Profiles: Brian Mulligan and Julianna DiGiacomo

Classic Arts Features   NY City Opera Profiles: Brian Mulligan and Julianna DiGiacomo
Some words from two of the most promising stars of the company's fall 2007 season.

Marcello in La Bohme
September 7, 9 (mat), 15, 21, 23 (mat), 27, 29 (mat)

"Almost my entire season this year is Puccini, just by coincidence. After these Marcellos in Bohème at City Opera, I'm covering Sharpless in Butterfly at the Met, then singing Schaunard in Bohème in Los Angeles, then doing Marcello again in Houston!"

"I love singing Puccini. It's definitely as popular with me as with the audiences. You get the feeling that a lot of the audience knows how it goes. They keep coming back to it, like their favorite roller coaster, so they can take that two-hour ride and relive those familiar peaks and valleys that they love."

"As a young baritone, I feel Bohème is perfect. Puccini has a wonderful way of writing for voices — the music is written in a very natural way, and he's great with the text. It feels easy to sing — not that it isn't challenging! But I find it less difficult than with some other composers to understand exactly what he wanted and how to do it. I think the key to Puccini is beautiful voices and singing with heart, and not being afraid to just enjoy it, to just revel in all the gorgeous sounds."

"Marcello is definitely easier for me than old, square Sharpless, and also, for me, not as big a stretch as, say, Don Giovanni, this legendary evil seducer. The characters in Bohème are a bunch of young guys, carefree, at least in the beginning, until they meet tough circumstances and they have to grow up really fast. It's the end of their innocence. They're regular people, like you and me, so they're easier for me to relate to, and easier for the audience, too. I'm sure that's one big reason why Bohème is so popular."

"Also, the guys in Bohème are struggling young artists in the big city, strapped for cash all the time. Can I relate to that? You bet!"

Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni
September 4, 8, 13, 15 (mat), 22, 25, 30 (mat), October 6 (mat), 12

"I come from a huge sports family. As a kid, I was really serious about tennis and dreamed of being a pro. So when I started singing, it was a little strange for my family to suddenly have this opera-singer daughter. But it began to seem that the sports and the music really do connect — They're both such mental 'games'."

"When I was first starting as a singer, I saw that in an opera role, same as in a tennis match, it's so much about strategy and pacing. Especially in a tough role like Elvira in Don Giovanni, you can't just be giving everything at every moment, or you'll never make it to the end."

"There's also the breathing. Being a tennis player made me strong, with a core strength that gives me the stamina to get through a role. Tennis and singing are both physical and mental disciplines."

"That's why I've often known singers to read books on sports psychology. A lot of performing music is about that same kind of confidence. My dad is a football coach, and when I was first beginning to sing, he'd always take me aside and give me a pep talk. He's not a musician, but he always knew the perfect thing to say."

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