BWW Blog: Mezzo Soprano Laura Coale on ORFEO ED EURIDICE
I started singing with Opera in the Heights (Oh!) in 2011, shortly after graduating from the University of Houston with my Master's in vocal performance. Over the past five years I have appeared in nine productions, singing in the chorus as well as supporting roles. How thrilling that in my 10th Oh! production I will be singing the title role of Orfeo in Christoph Willibald Gluck's ORFEO ED EURIDICE.
This is a beautiful story and a fantastic score. You can feel Orfeo's determination and passion, or more appropriately, obsession, for finding Euridice within the text and music. This piece is very important in the context of opera history as it begins the transition from the late Baroque to early Classical period. Gluck was adamant that the music more directly reflect the text and that superfluous ornamentation be eliminated. This opera provides some of the most beautiful music of the period that may at first appear to be just a simple tune, but underneath displays a wide range of emotion.
I've had a great deal of fun getting to know Orfeo. What does he want in each moment? What does he go through to achieve his goals? Sometimes these were not easy questions to answer because quite often the libretto might be talking about his sorrow at losing Euridice, while the music would be a lovely tune in a major key.
After reading a translation of the myth and discussing the character with my coach, Katherine Ciscon, the director, Leslie Swackhamer, and the conductor, Eiki Isomura, I decided that Orfeo uses his superpower of music to get what he wants. He can charm the rocks and trees with his singing; therefore, he should be able to persuade the gods to return his wife.
The rehearsal process has been, and continues to be, an absolute joy! Opera in the Heights has become my artistic home, and I am so thankful for the support and encouragement the members of the staff and artistic team have given me. This production is a true collaboration among all parties. During one rehearsal, Maestro Isomura said he "wanted to tell the best story possible." I truly believe that we are telling a story that not only serves the work, but is also deeply moving.
Our stage director, Leslie Swackhamer, is excellent. She comes from a theater as well as opera background, and understands the needs of singers. What I love most about our discovery of these characters is that we all agree that they are not perfect, sweet cherubs who are sad all the time. They feel real emotions and express them truly. Orfeo is a hero, but he is flawed by his hubris and doubt. I am excited for audiences to see the final product of our efforts. There will be aspects that are unexpected and heartbreakingly beautiful.
Our Euridice, Yunnie Park, and Amore, Julia Fox, are gorgeous in voice, body, and soul. It was so easy to build a connection with them on stage. The first day of rehearsal we went to work with an attitude of "let's make something magical". I am exceedingly blessed to have them as my cast-mates. They are not only brilliant performers, but genuinely kind, thoughtful people.
Not only are there three main characters and our wonderful chorus, but we have two beautiful dancers, Marlon Grigsby and Lindsay Cortner, who represent the mirror image of the two main characters. The choreography by Krissy Richmond adds amazing depth to the piece.
I could go on and on about how excited I am to be a part of this amazing production, but I would rather you see it instead. Please, please get your tickets today!
Mezzo Soprano Laura Coale previously appeared at OH in I PAGLIACCI. She has featured at many local companies, including the Lone Star Lyric Theater Festival, Upstage Theatre, and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Houston. For more information about Coale, please visit laura-coale.squarespace.com.
ORFEO ED EURIDICE. Opera in the Heights. Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Boulevard. Through April 16. 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, Thursday, April 14, Saturday, Apr. 16; and 2 p.m., Sunday, April 10. For information, please call (713) 861-5303 or visit operaintheheights.org.