For centuries, countless productions of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Il Trovatore have been staged around the world. After a 20-year absence from the Arizona stage, the classic love tale will re-invent itself March 1, 2, and 3 at Phoenix Symphony Hall using state-of-the-art, high-tech stage equipment.
Dating back to the early 1800s, Il Trovatore made its signature debut in Rome. The production is based on the Spanish playwright Antonio Garcia Gutierrez work El Trovador, which signifies a timeless interpretation of vengeance, passion, and jealousy.
The four-act performance will include the famous "Anvil Chorus," which will comprise about 200 participants to complete the production of the memorable Azcucena's Gypsy caravan. Sopranos Indra Thomas and Karen Slack will alternate in the portrayal of the female lead, Leonora, captivating audiences through her dramatic tale of love and lust.
With backstabbing twists and turns, this dynamic interpretation will keep viewers at the edge of their seats during its historic "soap opera-esque" plot.
Jackalope Ranch had the opportunity to speak with Thomas.
Tell us about your character Leonora. Leonora is pretty much a noble lady. She is bequeathed to Count di Luna, and she really doesn't want to be with him. She is in love with a Gypsy. His name is Manrico and the story kind of unfolds with her being in the middle of this big feud between the Gypsies and the Spaniards. It's about the love that she has for Manrico and how she tries to board off the advances toward Count di Luna.
What makes this performance different from others? It's going to be a more traditional portrayal of Il Trovatore that is set in its original time -- in the beautiful period of the 1500s.
What other operas have you been apart of? I am most known for my Aida, and I sing alot of Aidas around the world. But my most favorite is . . . Il Trovatore. One of my favorite ones to sing along with is La Forza del Destino as well. My Aida is a very long night -- it's a beautiful glorious night, but it's a lot of pressure [laughs].
What do you think of Phoenix Symphony Hall? This is my first time with this Opera Company, now I did do the Trio Gala that was held at Phoenix Symphony Hall here about two weeks ago.
This opera dates back to the 1800s, why do you think it's important to re-tell this tale? It's a beautiful little love story. It has all the elements; love, suspense, and beauty. It also has the mezzo part because my character is a little crazy. It hits all the elements, so you won't have a boring night. The opera starts out big and then it goes and goes and goes and it leaves you thinking, What's going to happen next?" It has a very nice flow between the segue of scenes. The elements are all separate at first, and then at the end of the opera they all come together. It's an opera with a very good story line with a lot of surprises and twists.
What is your favorite part about performing? For me, it would be telling the story and relaying the story to the audience. Whether it's an opera or a recital, it's the telling of the story I like doing the most.
If you could sing any role, regardless of voice type, what would you sing? I have already performed my dream role. But I've always wanted to sing this role by Puccini called 'For Angelica' and I performed it already. Now my dream role is to sing Tosca, hopefully I will get one very soon.
What do you think is something that the average person would never envision is a reality for a professional opera singer? Well, with professional opera singers, it seems like what we go through is just so glamorous but a lot of people don't realize that it's a lot of hard work, a lot of sweat, tears, anxiety, and stress. We don't show that on stage. We try and make it look effortless. Some people think that we're just globetrotting across the world -- going from Paris to Italy to Spain to Madrid and it's all elegant, but they don't realize that it's not all elegant. I'm there in my tennis shoes and a baseball cap lugging my luggage across the airport trying to make my flight. The main thing is that people think it's a very glamorous life -- and we put it on like it is, because we show that as an end result, but it's a long road traveled to get to that result.
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Any advice for our readers out there who want to pursue a career as a soprano? Gather as much knowledge as you can. If you want to be an opera singer, then do it. Go full throttle. Whatever you do -- whether it be an opera singer, a lawyer, a secretary or whatever -- just go for it, give it your all, give it your best. If it doesn't fit, it will be obvious, but you won't know unless you put all of your heart and soul into it and give the best part of who you are to the situation, I think that's what makes you very successful.
Tickets for Il Trovatore are $35 to $125 at AZOpera.org