Month: January 2015

Ten Questions with Emily Pulley

Ten Questions With…

Emily Pulley, soprano
Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd

1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born in Jackson, Mississippi, where my dad was helping to install the first computer for the University of Mississippi medical school, but we moved to College Station, Texas, where my dad helped install the first computer at Texas A&M, when I was a couple months old.  We have kept the same house (with some of the same carpeting and furniture), but the town sure has changed!

2.  If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I always figured I would teach English Literature (still have the filled-out applicaton to TAMU grad school somewhere), but the closest I’ve come to that is giving a lecture for the New York C.S. Lewis Society last spring (titled “True North v. Magnetic North:  Divine Paganism in Wagner’s Ring Cycle“).

3.  My favorite opera is…
Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.  I have often said that Minnie is the type of person I hope I would have been had I lived in that time and place.  I’ve sung the role three times now, but have yet to make my entrance on a horse in Act III.  Maybe someday…

4.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is…
I’m a big fan of sandwiches and usually snarf one down right before the show (pre-costume and lipstick, of course).  After the show, it’s generally whatever I have in the fridge (hopefully not *everything* I have in the fridge).

5.  People would be surprised to know that…
I’m a First Class Girl Scout (it used to be the equivalent of Eagle Scout) and have done a great deal of hiking, including the Laugavegurinn in Iceland and the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Still hoping to solo hike the Outer Hebrides and some other extended trails.

6.  What is your favorite song to belt out at the bar / in the car / for karaoke?
Any song by Heart, which I’ve been belting out since “karaoke” was just a hairbrush and a mirror.

7.  What is your pop culture guilty pleasure?
I used to be a Law and Order junkie, especially the original series.  I’m allergic to almost all reality TV, but my DVR is full of late-night talk shows.  Oh, and Nathan Fillion (Firefly and Castle) is totally my boyfriend (but may not be aware of that).

8.  A few of my favorite films are…
The Man from Snowy River, the original Star Wars, classic Steve Martin comedies (especially All of Me, Roxanne, and such), The Princess Bride, Monty Python, Mel Brooks, etc.

9.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would we see on your recently-played list?   
I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and just finished re-reading Terry Pratchett’s entire Ankh-Morpork City Watch storyline.

10.  What is the worst costume you’ve ever worn? 
The worst costume was for First Lady in Julie Taymor’s production of The Magic Flute, when we had to black out our faces and ears with dark blue paint and wear big puppet heads mounted on top of a cone-shaped hood.  We did a lot of running around, and the paint would mix with sweat and run down our necks, etc.  We would find it everywhere, even days later….

11.  Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  Who is your favorite author and your favorite book by that author?
A:  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.

11b.  Another bonus question.
Q:  What were your favorite TV shows as a kid?
A:  Scooby-Doo and Gilligan’s Island.

Don’t miss the chance to see Emily in Sweeney Todd, a thrilling American masterpiece!  Performances are February 6, 7, and 8 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Ten Questions with Jeni Houser

Ten Questions with…




Jeni Houser, soprano
Johanna in Sweeney Todd

1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and grew up in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

2.  If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I would be a dancer in a dream life.  In my real life, I would be a teacher.

3.  My favorite opera is…
Don Giovanni has been my favorite since I was four or five.  Verdi’s Falstaff is also high on the list, as well as Britten’s Peter Grimes.

4.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is…
A hearty sandwich or something with a lot of ginger.

5.  People would be surprised to know that…
I have an undergrad degree in English literature and I studied abroad in Amsterdam.

6.  What is your favorite song to belt out at the bar / in the car /for karaoke?
Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.”

7.  What is your pop culture guilty pleasure?
HGTV and the Food Network, especially House Hunter and Chopped.

8.  A few of my favorite films are…
The Philadelphia Story, The Sting, Singing in the Rain.

9.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would we see on your recently-played list?

Bon Iver, Sweeney Todd, the Radio Lab podcast, and Pentatonix.

10.  What is the worst costume you’ve ever worn?

In the 8th grade, I costumed myself for the role of Betty Body, who was a personal trainer tasked with shaping up Santa Claus so he could fit down chimneys better.  I wore jean shorts, an ill-fitting sea green t-shirt, and big ol’ pink scrunchie in my ponytail.  So simple, so classic, so bad.

11.  Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  Can you say all 50 states of the USA in alphabetical order in one breath?
A:  Yes.

Don’t miss the chance to see Jeni in Sweeney Todd, Sondheim’s masterpiece!  Performances are February 6, 7, and 8 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Three Questions With Four Choristers, Part III

Three Questions With…
Kristen Bond, soprano
Michael Etzwiler, baritone

Beth Morgan, mezzo
Scott Seyforth, tenor
Madison Opera Chorus, Sweeney Todd


1.  What is your day job?

Kristen: Working as a singing teacher and a research assistant at UW-Madison.

Michael: I’m a dancer by trade.  I also teach Zumba.
 
Beth: Quality Assurance at Epic (I test software).

Scott: Helping run the residence halls at UW-Madison, working with the incredible students that come to the University and helping them be successful.

2.  What are you most excited about for Madison Opera’s Sweeney Todd? 
Kristen: Seeing Sweeney’s chair and the chute in action!

Michael: I hope I get my throat slit onstage!
 

Beth: SONDHEIM IS MY JAM.  The music is so difficult and so interesting and so rewarding.  It’s my first time performing a full show of his (finally!!!)

Scott: The amazing cast of principal singers that has been assembled for this production.


3.  What is your favorite show that you’ve been in?
Kristen: 
Dead Man Walking.

Michael: I really enjoyed singing “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide with 300 other people on the Overture Hall stage!

Beth: Don Giovanni with Madison Opera.  Sure, chorus was minimally involved vocally, but I got to take a (staged) drunken nap right onstage, mere feet away from a gorgoeous “Batti Batti” right beside me and the cello obligato directly below me.  Also memorable because I totally bit it on stage, opening night, front and center, during the beautiful rose petal drop.

Scott:
It’s hard to pick one. Of course, I remember fondly my first show with Madison Opera, the 1996 production of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. A wonderful opera and such beautiful music. No one conducts this opera like John DeMain, who makes the Sextet in the Giulietta act seem like Mahler. It’s extraordinary. I’ve also fond memories of Fidelio, Dutchman, Lucia di Lammermoor, Merry Widow, and I would sing Rigoletto, Carmen, or La Traviata any day (and do, sometimes, to myself).


Don’t miss the chance to see these four amazing singers in Sweeney Todd, a thrilling American masterpiece!  Performances are February 6, 7, and 8 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Ten Questions with Thomas Forde

Ten Questions With…

Thomas Forde, bass
Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd

1.  Where were you born / raised? 
I was born on the northwest side of Chicago in a very residential neighborhood.

2.  If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I’ve always wanted to be a TV news anchor or to host a morning show on the radio.  I love WGN and the morning talk radio show in Chicago – in fact, I listen to the podcasts every day no matter where I may be in the world.

3.  My favorite opera is…
Eugene Onegin.  I sing the role of Prince Gremin, which is one of those roles that appear at the very end of the opera.  He gets to sing a beautiful, lyric aria.  He actually “wins” in the opera, but the meatier character for me is the title character of Onegin.  Sometimes, I’ll just go through Youtube and watch various scenes with different singers and stagings of the pivotal scenes to dream about singing the role.

4.  My favorite pre/post-show meal is…
I eat pretty normally every day, but after a show, I’d have to go with a burger and fries.  In Madison, I’ll go with cheese curds or poutine and a beer (after the show, of course).

5.  People would be surprised to know that…
I’m a pretty good student.  I took most assignments in school pretty seriously.  But I will say there are a couple of subjects I just have an insane amount of trouble comprehending.  I got mostly As and Bs in high school and college, but I had to switch out of the Geometry class I was in, because I could never get a grasp on the concepts of “proofs” in Geometry.  Go figure.

6.  What is your favorite song to belt out at the bar / in the car / for karaoke?
I love karaoke.  I usually go with “Home” by Michael Buble (who, for the record, I think is a fantastic singer).  I’ll also sing “Stars” from Les Mis or “Push” by Matchbox 20.  I’m not afraid to try new songs, though.  My best friend, Brittany, and I do a great rendition of “Light My Candle” from Rent.

7.  What is your pop culture guilty pleasure?
I love episodic TV shows.  I try to only focus on one or two that I religiously follow at one time, but some of my favorites are Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Comeback.

8.  A few of my favorite films are…
Jerry Maguire, Empire Records, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Home for the Holidays, and Father of the Bride.

9.  If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would we see on your recently-played list?   
You would see three different recordings of Sweeney Todd.  Aside from that, the Begin Again soundtrack, Damien Rice, the Mozart Coronation Mass, and Jay-Z.

10.  What is the best costume you’ve ever worn? 
I had a custom-made beautiful Don Carlo costume as one of the deputies at Opernhaus Zurich.  It was tailored exactly to my figure for the premiere, and I think it’s cool that my name will always be inside the costume for the future singers who wear it.

11.  Bonus:  One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q:  How did you know you wanted to be a performer/actor/singer?
A:  My parents took me to a PG-13 movie when I was about 10 years old, and I asked them what would make it different than the PG movies I was used to seeing.  They said there might be swearing and kissing in the movie, and that it was okay, because it was make-believe.  From this point onwards, I wanted to be an actor.

Don’t miss the chance to see Thomas in Sweeney Todd, a thrilling American masterpiece!  Performances are February 6, 7, and 8 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.

Three Questions with Four Choristers, Part II

Three Questions With…
Dale Kaufman, mezzo
Kenny Lyons, tenor
Alannah Spencer, soprano 

Tom Stone, baritone
Madison Opera Chorus, Sweeney Todd



1.  What is your day job?

Dale: I am a middle school social worker in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District.

Kenny: Junior voice student at UW-Madison.

Alannah: Student at UW-Madison studying voice and anthropology.

Tom: Information Technology Consultant.

2.  What are you most excited about for Madison Opera’s Sweeney Todd?
Dale:
Where do I start?????  I love the music of this show!  It is beautiful and dramatic.  I have never been in a Sondheim show, so I am very excited by the challenge! The story is compelling….Sweeney is such a sad character.

Kenny: I am excited to be in my first Sondheim show with a professional company!

Alannah: I’m most excited about seeing the chair!  (And maybe trying it out…?)

Tom: I am excited that it is challenging and brilliant, musically.  It requires a high level of production expertise and musical talent to bring it off well and I feel lucky that I can be a part of this show.
 
3.  What is your favorite show that you’ve been in?
Dale:
Probably Dead Man Walking.  It was an amazing journey for everyone… cast, crew, audience.   I was so grateful to be part of it.

Kenny:  Dead Man Walking.

Alannah: My favorite Madison Opera moment was during the party scene in Don Giovanni. I had this bit where Don Giovanni (Kelly Markgraf) helped me off the floor. On opening night, after helping me up, he kissed me right on the lips. The experience was both surprising and not altogether unpleasant 😉

Tom: A concert version of Candideas put on by Four Seasons in Madison.  Singing the Bernstein music was really special.


Don’t miss the chance to see these four amazing singers in Sweeney Todd, a thrilling American masterpiece!  Performances are February 6, 7, and 8 in the Capitol Theater.  Tickets start at $25; visit madisonopera.org for more information.