Ten Questions with...
1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:
I get to meet the most interesting and wonderful people in my work! Particularly in opera, there are so many people that come together to make a show come alive. I love the collaborative atmosphere of opera. So many people bring their amazing talents and creativity to the table, and you end being proud of the finished product. There is a really wonderful sense of community in the theatre.
2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
I would say that the hardest part is the ability to multi-task. Generally I am thinking of five things all at once when I am in the rehearsal process. Learning and memorizing music is only just the first step. In order to be an engaging performer, you also have to master the ability to translate foreign languages, sing, act, and dance all while trying to keep one eye on the conductor. By the time you reach the stage, all of these aspects need to be fully integrated so that you can become the character you are trying to convey to the audience. It's a challenge, but a really great one.
3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
The very first time I saw an opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago is forever imprinted in my mind. I got to see Faust with an amazing cast of singers. I was sitting in the very last row of the theatre, but I'll never forget how amazing Samuel Ramey sounded as Méphistophélès. It was astonishing and I was enthralled!
4. A few of my favorite films are:
It's all over the place: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Love Actually, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I Love You, Man, Wall-E, The Color Purple, the X-Men movies.
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My husband, Jim, who is the hardest working and the best plumber I know! (Although, I'm probably biased) He is really amazing man and I have learned countless life lessons and skills from him. Also, my family and friends- I am so grateful for their support and encouragement over the years. I cherish our conversations and laughter over the years.
6. My number one hobby is:
I get way too excited every year about my vegetable garden! I love to garden and am excited because my husband and I have just moved into a home with a two acre lot. I've been planning for perennial and vegetable gardens and hopefully some fruit trees for next spring! I have signed up to take a level one Master Gardening course in 2013 and am so excited for the upcoming growing season.
7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
Wow, it's difficult to choose- there are so many. Leontyne Price has probably been my absolute favorite over the years! Stephanie Blythe and Susanne Mentzer have been my mezzo heroes over the years.
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
I wanted to be a lawyer when I was young, which is pretty funny. I've always liked a good debate! I like to look at both sides of any argument and enjoy the exchange of ideas.
9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type/gender?
I love Sarastro's music in The Magic Flute. I've always wanted to be a bass-baritone. Their voices sound so deep and incredibly powerful!
10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
I really enjoy making people laugh. My first comedic role was Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with UW Opera. It was initially intimidating, but I really love the outlet of playing a goofy character. My favorite moment on stage was hearing explosions of laughter from the audience during opening night. We had rehearsed for weeks without an audience, so all of the laughter came as a surprise. It was delightful!
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Do you volunteer anywhere?
I am a Feline Friend at the Dane County Humane Society. I am there every Friday socializing with the cats and clean their cages. It's a wonderful organization and I am so happy when the animals find their "fur-ever homes". Volunteering there has made me a better owner to my dog, Gabby, and cat, Spike.
See Jessica in Madison Opera's production of Handel's Acis and Galatea January 10-13 in The Playhouse at Overture Center. Tickets start at just $20, but they're going fast!