Ten Questions With…
Emily Birsan, soprano
Musetta in La Bohème
1. Where were you born / raised?
I was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, and moved around quite a big as a child to North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, and a few cities in Wisconsin. I ended up in Neenah, Wisconsin, for middle school and high school, so I feel most connected to Fox Cities in Wisconsin.
2. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I think I would be in a profession involving working with people – a social worker, realtor, or development in a non-profit.
3. The first opera I was ever in was…
The Magic Flute (in college!! I was Pamina… totally memorable experience.)
4. My favorite opera is…
Whatever I’m working on. When you deem something your favorite, you want to look at it from all angles and figure out why it’s so great… It’s a good challenge for whatever I’m working on.
5. My favorite pre/post-show meal is…
Pre-show I like chicken and broccoli – something with protein (usually MEAT). I like a good-size meal to sing on. After a show, I crave popcorn and dark chocolate while I’m coming down from my adrenaline high.
6. People would be surprised to know that…
I played the trombone in the band, jazz band, and marching band.
7. A few of my favorite books are…
Mostly biographies – lately one about Egon Shiele, and anything by Thich Nhat Hanh.
8. If we were to turn on your ipod right now, what five artists/songs would we see on your recently-played list?
The Pandora radio station “Positive Hip Hop” for my workout, some Joni Mitchell, Nancy Wilson, Monteverdi madrigals, and usually a recording of whatever I’m working on.
9. What is the worst costume you’ve ever worn? Or if no such costume, what was the best costume?
I would say the answer to this was the best because it was the worst!! I was the trainbearer in Strauss’s Elektra in a new production at Lyric Opera of Chicago. I had painted white skin, a leather corset, and a bald head with a little tuft of hair (a comb-over!) on top.
10. Everyone should see La Bohème because….
It has stood the test of time for a good reason, combining amazing music with such a relatable story line about youth, love, and our hopes and dreams.
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer):
Q: What new hobby did you just pick up?
A: Major league baseball – learning about the ins and outs of the game, and picking out rookie players that shine. AND painting! I’ve been learning how to paint with acrylic and watercolor paints – it is quite fun!
Don’t miss the chance to see Emily in La Bohème, one of the greatest operas of all time! Performances are November 13 and 15 in Overture Hall. Tickets start at $18; visit madisonopera.org for more information.