Month: December 2012

Ten Questions with Jessica Lee Timman

Ten Questions with…








Jessica Lee Timman,
mezzo-soprano

Ensemble
in Acis and Galatea





1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: 

I get to meet the most interesting and wonderful people in my work! Particularly in opera, there are so many people that come together to make a show come alive. I love the collaborative atmosphere of opera. So many people bring their amazing talents and creativity to the table, and you end being proud of the finished product. There is a really wonderful sense of community in the theatre.  

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
I would say that the hardest part is the ability to multi-task. Generally I am thinking of five things all at once when I am in the rehearsal process. Learning and memorizing music is only just the first step.  In order to be an engaging performer, you also have to master the ability to translate foreign languages, sing, act, and dance all while trying to keep one eye on the conductor. By the time you reach the stage, all of these aspects need to be fully integrated so that you can become the character you are trying to convey to the audience. It’s a challenge, but a really great one.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
The very first time I saw an opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago is forever imprinted in my mind. I got to see Faust with an amazing cast of singers. I was sitting in the very last row of the theatre, but I’ll never forget how amazing Samuel Ramey sounded as Méphistophélès. It was astonishing and I was enthralled!

4. A few of my favorite films are:
It’s all over the place: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Love Actually, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I Love You, Man, Wall-E, The Color Purple, the X-Men movies.
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My husband, Jim, who is the hardest working and the best plumber I know! (Although, I’m probably biased) He is really amazing man and I have learned countless life lessons and skills from him. Also, my family and friends- I am so grateful for their support and encouragement over the years. I cherish our conversations and laughter over the years.

6. My number one hobby is:
I get way too excited every year about my vegetable garden! I love to garden and am excited because my husband and I have just moved into a home with a two acre lot. I’ve been planning for perennial and vegetable gardens and hopefully some fruit trees for next spring! I have signed up to take a level one Master Gardening course in 2013 and am so excited for the upcoming growing season.

7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
Wow, it’s difficult to choose- there are so many. Leontyne Price has probably been my absolute favorite over the years! Stephanie Blythe and Susanne Mentzer have been my mezzo heroes over the years.

8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I wanted to be a lawyer when I was young, which is pretty funny. I’ve always liked a good debate! I like to look at both sides of any argument and enjoy the exchange of ideas.

9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender?
I love Sarastro’s music in The Magic Flute. I’ve always wanted to be a bass-baritone. Their voices sound so deep and incredibly powerful!

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
I really enjoy making people laugh.  My first comedic role was Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with UW Opera. It was initially intimidating, but I really love the outlet of playing a goofy character. My favorite moment on stage was hearing explosions of laughter from the audience during opening night. We had rehearsed for weeks without an audience, so all of the laughter came as a surprise. It was delightful!


Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Do you volunteer anywhere?

I am a Feline Friend at the Dane County Humane Society.  I am there every Friday socializing with the cats and clean their cages.  It’s a wonderful organization and I am so happy when the animals find their “fur-ever homes”.  Volunteering there has made me a better owner to my dog, Gabby, and cat, Spike.


See Jessica in Madison Opera’s production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea January 10-13 in The Playhouse at Overture Center. Tickets start at just $20, but they’re going fast!

Ten Questions with Daniel Shirley

Ten Questions with…






Daniel Shirley, tenor
Acis
in Acis and Galatea










1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: 

Meeting interesting people from all over the world.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
Being away from home, often for weeks or months at a time.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
My first concert ever: M.C. Hammer, 1991, Mississippi Coliseum, Jackson MS. U can’t touch this!!! I wore the pants and everything. I wonder if my parents have any pictures of this infamous evening. 

4. A few of my favorite films are:
Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Man Who Wasn’t There, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men
. That’s more than a few, but I love the Coen brothers.  Everything they do is compelling. I also think Christopher Guest is a brilliant writer/actor, and I can quote most of Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman (like any true theater nerd).

5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My wife, my dog, YouTube.

6. My number one hobby is:
Wasting time on the internet.

7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
The person that immediately comes to mind is the English tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson. He is a real inspiration to me. I find myself constantly turning to his Britten and Handel recordings, and am always left in awe at his expressive singing and the range of colors he could produce. I believe he did some teaching in his later years – what a joy it would have been to work with him.

8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I’m fascinated by urban planning and American/Southern history, so I’d probably work in historical preservation in a place like New Orleans.

9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender?
Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute! Talk about leaving an impression.

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
Singing a love duet with my wife Caitlin in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Indiana University, 2008.

Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Dog person to the core. Dogs teach us compassion and help us become better people.


See Daniel in Madison Opera’s production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea January 10-13 in The Playhouse at Overture Center. Tickets start at just $20, but they’re going fast!

Ten Questions with Jeni Houser

Ten Questions with…







Jeni Houser, soprano
Ensemble
in Acis and Galatea










1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: 

The variety of the job. It is exciting to work on different styles of music, learn numerous languages, create different characters, think about how my body works, and study with experts in each of those fields.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:

I think it may end up being the amount of travel. It is difficult to feel settled and have things like pets and a garden when so much of your career involves performing in different places. So far, that’s a great part of the adventure, but I do hope to have a dog and kids someday.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
The Luther College Nordic Choir came to town when I was in high school and did a concert. Very different style of singing than I do now, but the goosebumps are the same.

4. A few of my favorite films are:
Singing in the Rain, The Sting, Best in Show, The Philadelphia Story.
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
A good book to read, great friends to spend time with, and the support of my family.

6. My number one hobby is:
Playing board games or running.

7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
Beverly Sills.

8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
Teaching.

9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender?

So many baritone/bass-baritone roles! Figaro (in 2 operas), Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Scarpia in Tosca, the four villains in The Tales of Hoffmann, Fritz in Die Tote Stadt, to name a few.

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
I had a great time trying not to crack up when I was playing Olympia, the mechanical doll, in The Tales of Hoffmann. The staging had all of my colleagues playing semi-mechanical goofy characters who were incredibly excited every time the doll moved. As I would walk toward one side of the stage, they would wave and grin at me, being as silly as possible, and it took a lot of effort not to break character the first few times. Good colleagues make lots of performing moments wonderful.

Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
What is your favorite food?

Whole steamed artichokes – dip the leaves in butter before scraping off the yummy stuff with your teeth, then remove the choke when you get to it and dip the heart in the butter. Heavenly.


See Jeni in Madison Opera’s production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea January 10-13 in The Playhouse at Overture Center. Tickets start at just $20, but they’re going fast!