Ten Questions with Jeni Houser

Ten Questions with…

Jeni Houser, soprano
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?

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!

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