Erin Milley-Patey shares her experience with a trouser role in Rusalka

Posted on Feb 8, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments

ERIN MILLEY-PATEY —Trouser roles are fairly common in opera, and they refer to male characters that have been written to be played by a female singer. This is usually done so that the voice of a young man or boy will sound more youthful. These types of roles are most commonly reserved for mezzo-sopranos, such as Cherubino in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Octavian in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier or Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Dvořák’s Kitchen Boy in Rusalka is one of the few pants roles written for the soprano voice. The young Kitchen Boy works in the Prince’s castle, and along with the Gamekeeper, these characters provide the comic relief in this opera.

Becoming a completely different character is both exciting and challenging, and which I have found is definitely true of this role. Ana Toumine, my double, and I both enjoy the fun and beautiful music as well as the creative staging (Nancy Hermiston) of the Kitchen Boy. Nancy has given us lessons in physicality that enable us to become a character that we have no experience with in reality!

The most exciting step for me in the creative process was finally getting to try on the costume. Our costume designer, Ines Ortner, knew exactly how the Kitchen Boy should look and I think the result is great! While most of the other ladies in the opera are wearing gorgeous dresses or colourful Sprite costumes, Ana and I get to wear white pants, a chef’s hat, and a fat suit! Dress rehearsals ended yesterday, and the show opens in less than 48 hours — I am excited to put everything together and finally see the finished product. The orchestra, sets, lighting, costumes, staging, and singing are coming together to make this an opera you will not want to miss!