Month: April 2014

Ten Questions with Daniela Mack

Ten Questions with…

Daniela Mack,
mezzo-soprano

Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking




1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:

Having the chance to embody a character who is different from myself.  I love the process of discovering my character’s voice, and then learning how to communicate that through my own singing.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: 
Staying healthy.  So many things affect the singer’s instrument: weather, travel, sleep, diet, hydration, allergies, over/under use, etc.  Singers try to create the best possible environment in order to be healthy, but many of these factors are out of our control.  The upside is that no live performance will ever be exactly like another, which leaves room for spontaneous and wonderful things to happen on stage.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:

My first opera.  I was 7 years old and attended a college production of La Traviata and was totally captivated.  I loved the music, the costumes, the set, and was so mad at the end because I didn’t want Violetta to die!  Immediately after leaving the theater, I locked myself in my room so nobody could hear me pretend to sing like an opera singer. 

4. A few of my favorite films are: 

The Goonies, Labyrinth, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jone’s Diary, Batman movie (Burton and Nolan), Gigi, any Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, The Usual Suspects, any Gene Kelly film…I could go on and on 🙂 

5. Three things I can’t live without are: 

Love, my family, chocolate.

6. My number one hobby is: 
Reading (but binge-watching my favorite tv shows is a close second!). 

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

 Tatiana Troyanos, Frank Sinatra, or Jacques Brel. 

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

Education or Ballroom Dance.


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

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage. 

The first time I’m on stage with the orchestra always overwhelms me with joy.  The wash of sound and energy that rises up from the pit is so invigorating, and it always reminds me of how blessed I am to be able to do what I love.

See Daniela in Madison Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking April 25 and 27 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with Michael Mayes

Ten Questions with…








Michael Mayes, baritone
Joseph DeRocher in Dead Man Walking







1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:

The look on someone’s face when you’ve reached down into them and plucked a seldom strummed heart-string.  That look can make the mountain of work I’ve had to climb to get to that point seem almost insignificant in comparison.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: 
Being on the road full-time.  I’ve been on the road for about 2 years this stretch…it wears on your soul.  Not having a consistent “home” is really tough on your psyche ~ luckily I have some great friends and family in incredible places conducive to the recharging of one’s spiritual and emotional batteries.  My folks live in Creede, CO ~ it’s a funky little mountain town 9,000 ft above sea level ~ the people and environs of that town really know how to hit the sweet-spot for maximum relaxation and decompression.  One of the most gorgeous places I know.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:

Standing on the stage only about 20 feet form one of my musical heros, Willie Nelson, while he sang “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” I was there with my good friends Thomas Ryan Rhodes (of Fort Worth Opera) and his wife Logan.  We’d gotten backstage access through my friends Amber Digby and Randy Lindley who make up Amber Digby and Midnight Flyer ~ a popular Texas Roadhouse Country Band.  I was standing there with a bunch of other notable country artists ~ some of whom I had been listening to my entire life, while Willie crooned his way through one of my favorite songs with absolute perfection vocally, while his fingers worked their way across Trigger’s neck in counterpoint.  Standing just behind him, and looking out over the enormous 4th of July picnic crowd ~ which was almost completely silent while he sang ~ the power of that moment was absolutely indescribable.  It would have been easier to count the people without tears in their eyes, that those with. 

4. A few of my favorite films are:  
There Will Be Blood (Should be an opera)

The Grand Budapest Hotel
No Country for Old Men
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Searchers

5. Three things I can’t live without are: 
Coffee. Music. Dog hair covering everything I wear.

6. My number one hobby is: 
Playing folk and country music with my friends from other musical disciplines.

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

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

I’d probably join the Peace Corps.

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

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage. 

The first time I did Dead Man Walking ~ it was the first performance in Tulsa, OK.  I was fortunate to have Jerome Shannon, who is a great friends and colleague, in the pit.  Jerry is the kind of conductor that learns the score so thoroughly that his eyes are always on you while he conducts ~ you’ll actually see him reach down, and turn 10 or 12 pages in his score while never taking his eyes off the stage…it’s really incredible.  The last scene of the opera, where Joseph finally confesses his guilt to the parents of his victims, is an emotional pressure cooker.  I was strapped to the bed, which then is released from the base, and stood up as to allow the condemned to address those gathered to watch his execution.  While I am laboriously working my way through one of the most intense moments in the show ~ I look down to get my cue for the next phrase, and I see Jerry, looking up at me, with tears streaming down his face.  I was crying, he was crying, everyone on stage was crying, the audience was crying ~ in that moment, we were all connected ~ we were all one, performance, audience, orchestra, conductor… it’s those kinds of feeling of interconnectedness that really drive me to keep doing what I am doing… that moment when Jerry’s tear-soaked eyes met mine and went right through me.  It was all I could do to stammer out the last few words I had left to sing.  In moments like those, I get it ~ and getting it ain’t always easy.

Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer)
Do you have any idea what I could do with this extra pile of money I have lying around?
Absolutely ~ here are my 5 favorite composers, directors (one of which is directing our very own Dead Man Walking), producers, and ideas for incredible operas.  Get them all together in a room and lock the door until they come out with something unlike anything that’s been on an opera stage to date.  Fund it and produce it in a combination of cities where their conception of opera is still stuck in the past and blow their minds so completely that they’ll never be able to look at opera the same way again.

See Michael in Madison Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking April 25 and 27 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with Susanne Mentzer

Ten Questions with…








Susanne Mentzer,
mezzo-soprano

Mrs. Patrick DeRocher in Dead Man Walking




1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:

Singing great music that someone deliberately put to the page and sharing it.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: 
Staying healthy and in top form.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:

Hard question.  There are so many! 

4. A few of my favorite films are: 

The Best Year of Our Lives, Rear Window, Life of Pi, Legends of the Fall, Lawrence of Arabia, Godfather I and II, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Anchor Man.

5. Three things I can’t live without are: 
My family, my dog and my iPhone.

6. My number one hobby is: 
Scrabble/Games.

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

Paul McCartney. 

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

Nursing or Music Therapy. 

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

That is a hard question. I guess it would be Werther. 

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage. 

Duet with Joan Sutherland in Anna Bolena at the Royal Opera Covent Garden 1988. 

Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer)
Why is The Phantom of the Opera not an opera?
Because it is a musical and musicals are sung with sound enhancement (mics) and opera is not.  People always mention it when I mention opera.  One of my pet peeves.

See Susanne in Madison Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking April 25 and 27 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with Karen Slack

Ten Questions with…









Karen Slack, soprano
Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking







1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:

Traveling the world and sharing my gift.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: 
Being away from family, friends, and my fury children.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: 

When I was a kid my parents took me to see the Soul/Funk group Earth, Wind and Fire at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia.  Live band with horns blasting, dancers in glittery costumes and pyrotechnics on stage.  It was incredible.  I stood on my Dad’s shoulders all night.  I will never forget it!
  
4. A few of my favorite films are: 
The Color Purple, What’s Love Got To Do With It, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Carrie.

5. Three things I can’t live without are: 
Lipgloss, inspirational quotes, and Richard Strauss lieder.

6. My number one hobby is: 
Making jewelry. 

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

Luciano Pavarotti. 

8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
A veterinarian, or a Life Coach.

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

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage. 

Last season I sang one performance of Tosca with Arizona Opera on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  The most fun I have ever had on stage! What a dream role!

Bonus:  One Question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer)
What would you tell your 16 year-old self who decided she wanted to pursue a career in Opera/Classical music today?
Pray hard, work hard, take nothing for granted, seize each opportunity you get and all the joy possible, integrity is most important, treat everyone with kindness and PRACTICE!!!

See Karen in Madison Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking April 25 and 27 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

Ten Questions with Jeffrey Beruan

Ten Questions with…


Jeffrey Beruan, bass
Warden George Benton
in Dead Man Walking












1. My favorite thing about being a singer is: 

Sharing my talent with others and making music.

2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is: 
Trying to make singing look easy.

3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is: 
Lucia di Lammermoor with my wife as Lucia!

4. A few of my favorite films are:
The Fifth Element, most of the Rocky movies, The Usual Suspects, Shawshank Redemption, and The Big Lebowski.

5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My wife, great food, and music.

6. My number one hobby is:
Right now, it is jogging daily!

7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be? 
Cesare Siepi.
 
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in? 
Accounting.

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

10. Describe your favorite moment on stage. 
My favorite moment on stage was when I was the King in Aida with Portland Opera, when I had to step onto a moving turntable during the Triumphal March and somehow managed not to fall over despite the long, heavy robe of my costume. Also, during that same scene, getting to have Greer Grimsley and Lisa Daltirus singing away with me! 


See Jeff in Madison Opera’s production of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking April 25 and 27 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!