Written at Newark Liberty Airport, NJ
Today is a travel day and I am feeling inspired to write another journal entry.
It’s days like today that I feel the emotional contrast of being a singer. The excitement of traveling to a new and exciting place, meeting new people, working with great colleagues and friends. Victoria, British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. And Pacific Opera Victoria is a wonderful, innovative company that is very near and dear to my heart.
The contrast to this is that I am already homesick, and I haven’t even left the ground yet. Today is Tuesday and I got home last Saturday….3 days just doesn’t seem long enough to reconnect with loved ones. Oh well, quality vs. quantity. That is something to be grateful for.
Something else I am grateful for is tomorrow I will start rehearsing the role of Contessa Almaviva. Le nozze di Figaro was my first “opera love.” When I was a teenager I bought myself Decca’s 1984 CD recording and discovered the names Solti, Te Kanawa, Popp, von Stade and Allen . It was a revelation. I still remember reading along to the libretto as these glorious voices washed over me.
And that’s when I fell in love with her, La Contessa Rosina Almaviva. There was just something special about her grace, her humanity, her will to fight for love. So I feel it is a tremendous gift to have the opportunity to bring her to life on stage. I have an endless amount of empathy for Rosina. I see her as a woman who is lost…..she has lost the love of her husband and worse, she has lost herself. When the opera opens we see very little of the woman in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Rosina’s spice and sass has transformed to regret and solitude.
What I can relate to is how her identity has become so tied up in her “role”. How often do we as women (and men) give over to that? Our roles as sisters, daughters, wives and mothers. These days it’s the pressure to be the woman who can do EVERYTHING!
Growth and change is a natural part of life, I realize, but with life and love comes expectations and responsibilities. The danger is often we give what is expected of us even if it does not register with our authentic selves. I think this is a big part of what is troubling Rosina. She doesn’t recognize herself anymore.
I always think of her as a woman ahead of her time. Her marriage to the Count was unusual by normal standards because they fell in love and chose to be together. Today that is normal but with the aristocracy of Mozart’s (and Beaumarchais’) time period, that type of matrimony was the exception, not the rule. In becoming the COUNTESS, she has sacrificed Rosina. In fact, she tells the Count to never say her name to her again. “Cruel man, I am not her anymore. I am the miserable object of your neglect.” And whether out of love or out of social pressure (probably both), she has molded herself into a very unhappy place.
So when we meet the Contessa, she is fighting to find some shred of the girl she was. I find it deeply moving that she is willing to do whatever it takes to take back her power, teach her ding-dong husband a thing or two and in the end show him compassion and forgiveness. I think that is very inspiring and hope I can do her justice.