In opera, few opportunities are as rewarding as reprising a role. This past summer I was fortunate enough to perform the role of Rusalka with UBC in the Czech Republic. This was a daunting task for several reasons. First, the role is incredibly demanding technically. The second and more frightening reason is the fact that Rusalka is perhaps the most beloved of all Czech opera characters. I therefore made it my mission to delve into the language so that I would sound somewhat Czech IN the Czech Republic. I also tried to learn as much as I could about the Rusalka legend and traditions surrounding the opera so as to do justice to such a culturally significant piece of theatre.
This year I am lucky enough to reprise the role of Rusalka in Vancouver. This has been an incredible chance to learn more and more about the opera and sink deeper into my own interpretation of this gorgeous role. This opportunity has of course come with challenges. Reprising a role allows a singer the chance to improve on his or her past performance, which means constantly questioning ingrained interpretive choices. It also means not getting mixed up between different versions of the stage and resulting staging, adjusting to a different cast, and learning to move in a new set of costumes. Since professional singers rarely sing a role only once (they often, in fact, perform a few roles many times through their careers), this is an incredibly valuable set of skills to learn.
I am thankful not only for this, but more importantly for the sublime chance to simply become this character again: to get back into her body and voice and share her beautiful, heart-wrenching story with a new audience.