Parlando: The COC Blog

8/15/2013

Catching up with Ensemble Studio Member Claire de Sévigné

By Jennifer Pugsley, Media Relations Manager

Soprano Claire de Sévigné has spent much of her summer studying at the prestigious Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. We at the COC wanted to find out exactly what she’s been learning, what kind of performances she’s been giving and if she’s been having any fun in that California sun.

What have you been doing at the Music Academy of the West?

At Music Academy of the West there are two public masterclasses a week, in addition to Italian, German and French diction coaching sessions, as well as voice lessons and coachings. At the beginning of the summer, we did a three-hour scenes program and I performed a scene from Rossini’s La Cenerentola, in which I sang the role of Clorinda (see photo below).

Back in mid-July, we had the Marilyn Horne Song Competition. Each singer had to perform three songs, one being in English. I sang "An die Nacht" by Strauss, "À Cupidon" by Milhaud and "Black Anemones" by Schwantner. Although I didn't place, I enjoyed the experience so much. I got to perform with a fellow Canadian, pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg from Montreal. We had such a positive experience collaborating that we’re now planning to schedule a recital tour, making it possible for us to work again in the near future. We’re now staging Mozart’s The Magic Flute in which I’m singing the Queen of the Night (see photo above). At the end of the summer, I’ll also be performing in the Cabaret concert and sing "Il bacio" by Arditi, a great coloratura waltz.

[Since Claire answered the COC’s questions about her time at the Music Academy of the West, performances of The Magic Flute and the Cabaret concert have taken place. Read the Santa Barbara Independent’s review, in which Claire is praised for making “splendid sense out of her notoriously difficult arias”, and her "ravishing" performance in the Cabaret concert.]

What’s been your favourite role or experience so far at the Academy?

I'm really enjoying singing the Queen of the Night. The first rehearsal with the orchestra was such a rush! The Queen’s arias are pure rock and roll! The orchestra sounds great and they all seem to be really keen to be a part of the show. An especially cool thing about the show is that the orchestra will be re-creating the thunder and water sounds with the original materials that were most likely used in Mozart's time. So for example, thunder sheets for the sound of a storm, crumpled paper for fire and tubs of water for rain and the trial scenes.

Who have you been most excited to meet or work with in California?

I’ve been most excited to work with Marilyn Horne and Warren Jones, as well as Carrie-Anne Matheson (a fellow Canadian and a vocal coach and prompter at the Metropolitan Opera). I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed working with coaches and conductors Jonathan Kelly and John Churchwell, as well as The Magic Flute director David Paul.

Did you offer any tips, tricks or advice for new Ensemble Studio member Andrew Haji, who’s also at Music Academy of the West?

No tricks or tips. I've known Andrew for many years and we've become great friends. I love singing with him. I'm so happy to be here with him and to know that we’ll be going back to the COC together in the fall.

It hasn’t been all work and no play, we hope.  You are in California after all!

All of the Music Academy Fellows are connected with Compeers for the summer (a personal sponsor or donor) and they take very good care of us. I have Shirley and Seymour Lehar and they are very supportive. They come to all of my performances and cheer me on. It's nice to know I always have someone in the audience. They’ve also shown me around Santa Barbara: the beach and the town of Santa Barbara.  It is really a little oasis down here.

So your summer is part work and part time-off from the Ensemble Studio. What kind of music are you listening to while travelling?

The music I'm listening to right now is mostly from operas in the COC's upcoming season!! But during serious down time I listen to a lot of indie music and Beyoncé.

Photos: (top) Claire de Sévigné as Queen of the Night in the Music Academy of the West's production of The Magic Flute; (bottom) Claire as Clorinda in a rehearsal scene from the Music Academy of the West's La Cenerentola. Photos by David Bazemore. 

Posted by Danielle D'Ornellas / in Ensemble Studio / comments (0) / permalink


Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001