American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky makes her role debut in Washington National Opera’s season-opening production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena beginning September 15 in the Opera House.
Q: How did you choose opera as a career path?
A: I’ve loved opera since I was a very, very young child. My mother brought me a record player when I was five years old; I started singing along, then harmonizing at five, six years old and loved it. Then I was eleven years old and saw Plácido Domingo on television singing opera and that was it. Sold. Thank you very much. I want to do that.
Q: Take us through the process of preparing a role for the first time.
A: Every time I prepare a role it’s a little different. I always like to know about the character: what they went through in real life and we all know that… yeah, she got her head cut off, but to know more in depth about the character. And to learn the music, it’s a very long and difficult opera vocally to sing, so knowing every word…it’s always important because you have to have a conversation. So this role I’ve been working on for well over a year: vocally, dramatically, all of that.
Q: How does getting into costume help you get into character?
A: For me, it transports me to some other place. Especially in period costumes, you really get a sense of what Anne Boleyn went through, what she felt like wearing these costumes every day. You walk a different way, you have a different stature; they were never comfortable and there was always that sense of uneasiness.
Q: Can you talk about how Anna Bolena will appeal to a current audience?
A: With The Tudors, The Other Boleyn Girl, and the royals nowadays—William and Kate and Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee—I think it’s very current. Also, the music is wonderful. And for me, Anna Bolena is a great character to play. I really get to be dramatic, not only vocally, but on stage, and that’s a wonderful evening at the opera.
Q: Washington National Opera is…
A: Culture, dramatic, fun, and exciting. Come!