Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In a Word... Soprano Patricia Racette

(photo credit: Lisa Cuscuna)

Beyond Wiki and to The Club
Diva Patricia Racette reinvents
by Shannon Christy

Soprano Patricia Racette has appeared in the most acclaimed opera houses of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, La Scala, Paris Opera, and the Bayerische Staatsoper.  Known as a great interpreter of Janacek and Puccini, she has gained particular notoriety for her portrayals of the title roles of Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Jenufa, Kátya Kabanová, and all three leading soprano roles in Il Trittico. A champion of new works, Ms. Racette has created roles in a number of world premieres. Among them are the role of Leslie Crosbie in Paul Moravec’s The Letter at the Santa Fe Opera, Roberta Alden in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera, the title role in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline at the Santa Fe Opera, (broadcast on PBS/Albany Records audio) and Love Simpson in Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree at the Houston Grand Opera (released on Albany Records). With the release of Diva on Detour, her breakout first cabaret album, Patricia Racette officially adds the cabaret genre to her performance platform.

CHARPO: What did you dream you would become as a child?  

RACETTE: I thought I would grow up to be a pop singer.. guitar in hand singing my own songs!

CHARPO: Name some of your mentors and influences and how they inspired you.

RACETTE:  Early on I loved some of the women of jazz-- I reference that on my album.. Ella Fitzgerald, Ernestine Anderson, Sarah Vaughan… but operatically, I was totally won over by Renata Scotto.  Many times I have told the story of being in my college dorm room-- devastated by the fact that my teacher told me that I should switch to opera from jazz.  My assignment was to learn SUOR ANGELICA's aria "Senza Mamma" and none other than Scotto was the recording I had.  Lucky me-- it turned my world upside down.. and that circle followed me even in recent years. Curious?!

CHARPO: Describe what according to Wikipedia's Bio Page on you, made your voice more suited for Opera than Jazz? 

RACETTE: Let's not dwell too much on my Wiki pages-- I should really take time to get those edited and corrected!! Thank you for reminding me of that! In terms of my voice's suitability for opera versus jazz-- honestly,  the truth is that one who can sing opera can potentially sing jazz as well, but it's less likely that someone who can sing jazz can also sing opera.  Operatic singing requires a whole set of acoustic properties to be 'built-in,' if you will. I have to be my own speakers and my own sound system in order to project over an orchestra and to the back of huge performance halls.  My college teacher heard that potential in me, and I am very glad that she did!

CHARPO: What else would you be if you weren't an opera singer?

RACETTE: Let's see.. maybe a police officer... or a tomato farmer! I am joking only a little.. as I LOVE to cook and have an interest in growing my own ingredients!

CHARPO: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an artist and how did you deal with them?

RACETTE: Travel and being constantly displaced from home is my biggest challenge.  I do my best to have my checklist for every place that I travel for work in terms of being able to 'nest' comfortably in whatever short term apartment in which I find myself.  I need QUIET to be able to sleep enough hours, especially during production prep and during performance runs, and I always want a decent kitchen-- I do travel with chef knives, spices, and a few other supplies!

CHARPO: What is the biggest mistake you made?

RACETTE: Ever giving someone else photo approval!!!

CHARPO: Can you give me a detailed overview of your best moment in an Opera?

RACETTE: The solo bow at the end of Anthony Minghella's MADAME BUTTERFLY is one of the most thrilling and chilling moments I have ever experienced-- which is not to say that there aren't many moments of actual PERFORMANCE-- but coming up over those stairs with that blood red doused backdrop after having just killed myself (again!) is simply one of those turn-you-inside-out events!

CHARPO: Walk me through "a perfect performance according to Patricia Racette"

RACETTE: My voice feels pliable, wigs and make-up make me feel like the character, my colleagues are on fire, the audience is poised and palpable and ready to absorb every moment..  I  just have to hop on the board and surf the wave!

CHARPO: Aspects of opera you truly enjoy?

RACETTE: I love the thrill of multi-tasking in real time-- "where do I need to catch the light, the cue, the change in tempo... react to a new moment from a colleague, all the while singing with as seamless a thread as possible"--that adrenalin pump feels like the most wonderfully intoxicating transformation. I honestly feel the most at home on the stage and 'in my process.'

CHARPO: How have you changed as a person throughout your career.

RACETTE : I hope that I have become wiser. I can acknowledge that I have learned SO much through my years of experience, but  I am always open to stretch further, be clearer, capture a moment more poignantly, rediscover anew a character that I might have portrayed a hundred times or more.

Read also Shannon Christy's review of Diva on Detour.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.