It's all about the ladies in Cincinnati Opera's summer festival, which opens tonight. We asked each of the four leading ladies - Eva Urbanova, Catherine Malfitano, Hasmik Papian, Lauren Flanigan - in the four productions to tell us about themselves, and the roles they will play.
|How I see my character:
||Turandot is an ice princess.
||Anna I is gutsy; Anna II is idealistic; the Woman is fragile and feminine; Medusa is mythic, bigger than life.
||The real happiness of life - to be loved by someone you love - comes to Violetta when it is too late. Therefore, I pity her (and) … I admire her.
||I see Norma as the embodiment of true love.
|What makes her a strong woman?
||She has a strict upbringing.
||Medusa is strong because she is willing to make the ultimate sacrifices.
||Her ability to preserve her personal pride - from the beginning until the very end.
||She takes the ideals of fidelity to the extreme. … To Norma, death is the only answer to a life without love.
|My biggest moment in the opera:
||When Medusa invites her salvation and allows her maternal self to overcome the disaster of her life.
||Act 2. In general, each time I step on stage. For me, it is still a miracle to do this profession every night.
||New York City
||Where my family is. (Armenia)
||New York City
|What inspires me:
||If it's not here (points to heart), I can't sing it.
||To see packed houses in so many places in the world where I sing.
||I draw a tremendous amount of inspiration from the characters that I portray.
|My biggest temptation:
||Diet Coke and French champagne.
||To live out the lives of my characters.
||To buy really good looking fashion.
||I love a new challenge.
|Why I am/am not a diva:
||Today I am a prima donna, tomorrow no. It's like the weather: one day sunny, the next day rain.
||I'm a diva, because diva backwards is avid, and I am an avid pursuer of once-in-a lifetime experiences.
||I am a diva because all the parts I sing are 'diva' parts…. I try to stay in touch with reality - without giving up my self-confidence.
||I aspire to emulate the traditions of the great artists - the intense work ethic, the dedication to the craft, and the attention to detail.
|Things I always carry in my bag:
||Perfume, lipstick, a special European gum, … and my talisman, a picture of St. Patrick.
||My own roasted green and vanilla spice teas, and a picture of my daughter.
||An alarm clock, makeup remover and Chanel No. 5.
||I don't carry a bag.
|How I stay in shape:
||Yoga and pilates. I don't like fitness.
||Aerobics and a lot of weight lifting. I can press 500 pounds on the leg press.
||I never forget that I am a singer (which is not very easy sometimes).
||My best workouts take place when I'm on stage. Strength and stamina go hand-in-hand with vocal and dramatic ability.
|To prepare myself on performance day, I always:
||Rest, and study my role. I am Turandot all day long.
||Put myself in performance mode.
||Stay in bed as long as possible; eat chicken for lunch six hours before the performance starts.
||Focus on inhabiting the character.
|My most unforgettable opera experience:
||Jenufa, a Nic Muni production, that I just sang in Toronto.
||In 1992, while making the film of Tosca in Rome, the Vatican had to give me permission to kiss Placido Domingo in Act I.
||Singing Norma in front of 9,500 people in the ancient Roman amphitheatre of Orange under the silver moon of France.
||When I was covering for Aprile Millo as Giselda in the Met's I Lombardi, the day before the performance, I was called in to sing the role. … The director drew out my staging on napkins at a restaurant.