Opera star says she cannot face CarmenOpera
The Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais announced nine months ago that she was getting ready to deliver her first Carmen this summer.
Sadly, it has proved to be a phantom pregnancy.
After much consideration, I have decided to withdraw from my debut as Carmen at Oper im Steinbruch this summer. I’ve spent a lot of time with this music in the last months, and I feel the role is not one I want to add to my repertoire at this time. pic.twitter.com/hCscXy7eUb
— Kristine Opolais (@KristineOpolais) May 22, 2023
So why on earth did she accept it in the first place? Do these singers get any proper advice or are they pushed into lucrative roles by their agents?
Glynne Williams seems not to understand the amount of work it requires to get into a new role, and it does not always work. The great Janet Baker agreed to sing Alceste with Scottish Opera for the 1974 Edinburgh Festival. About 2 months in advance when all performances were sold out, she begged to be released from the contract as once she had sung the entire role a few times with her coach she found the tessitura too difficult. Should she have known that before accepting the role? She was replaced by Julia Varady who was wonderful.
It was a temporary setback for Dame Janet who was able to return to the role a little later in her career. But if as serious and conscientious an artiste as Dame Janet could not find a role comfortable, it is hardly surprising that other singers sometimes find they have the same problem. To suggest that a singer will always find a role suitable for her voice is just not the case. And it is hard to blame anyone.
But Janet Baker’s situation was so very different and Alcestebnot mainstream repertoire in Britain. Dame Janet was one of the finest singers but not exclusively or temperamentally an ‘opera singer’ but a generation of British singers who did everything within reason. She certainly wouldn’t have done Carmen!
First of all, there have been a number of sopranos who have sung Carmen, so it’s not an unusual idea. Second, each human voice is unique with its own strengths and weaknesses. What seems like it might be an interesting idea at first might turn out not to be such a good idea, but only after weeks or months of working the role into your voice. A working singer does not have the time to explore every role in depth before signing a contract. If you are singing Tosca, for example, you cannot rehearse a role in another tessitura between performances. It’s not an easy decision to make to abandon a month or two of work and income, and I’m sure she is more disappointed than some internet critic.
decided … feel … want
Her approach was correct, first try it out in a small opera house, in a summer festival, to see how it goes. But of course, everything is recorded these days, if just on an iPhone, so if you don’t want to leave a legacy of an experiment, you have to pull out of the project.
Better to have no Carmen than a bad Carmen.
She’s not currently capable of singing much of anything at least at a high level of quality.
So true…beautiful woman but her voice is not what it once was.
If only Maria Ewing had come to the same conclusion…