Grammy-winning soprano Christine Goerke will make her Tucson debut tonight with UApresents as part of the second annual Tucson Desert Song Festival.
We caught up with Goerke last week via email. She was at home in New York City with her two small children after yet another big winter storm slammed into the East Coast and forced schools to close.
Here are excerpts from that interview.
What’s it like for you to go from a stage as big as Covent Garden or the Met to a much smaller recital stage here in Tucson?
“Surprisingly, it’s a bit more frightening for me. When I am on stage in front of thousands of people, in a costume and behind an orchestra it’s somehow ... separate. I am portraying a character, and people don’t see ‘me,’ they see the character. Song recitals are an entirely different animal. You can’t hide behind sets, costumes and an orchestra. You are about as emotionally naked as can be. That’s what makes the experience so different, so moving, and wonderful.”
Your program goes from Gluck to Poulenc to Berg and then to Sondheim and Gershwin. What is your philosophy when you craft a recital program?
“I absolutely love the Poulenc and Berg together on the first half, since they are so vastly different but both considered 20th century compositions. They are both incredibly lyric and melodic also, which makes them very accessible to the audience. The second half of the program is all American music, all in English. I always try to have a bit of American music on my recitals, if possible. If we don’t champion our own music, who will?”
Which of the works on the program are your absolute favorites? Which will absolutely take our breath away?
“I hope they will all take your breath away! I have been singing the Poulenc cycle for 20 years now. I fell in love with the simplicity and humor behind it when I first began singing it, and now that I am a mom, I truly understand it in a very different and more profound way than I did when I first took it on. Then there is the Gershwin. It’s not often you’ll hear a 6-foot- tall German and Italian woman singing it but it’s so incredibly powerful. So gut-wrenching at its core. I adore it.”
How do you juggle motherhood and your busy career/travel?
“How do I juggle it indeed? I ask myself that question just about every day. The same way every other working mother manages. With a lot of help and even more luck ... and less sleep than I would probably like!”
If I stole your iPod and hit play, what would I hear?
“Ha! Excellent question. Right now, you’d hear Queen’s greatest hits, Elektra, this current recital program, some Adele, Billy Joel, Bruno Mars, and at the moment I’m completely addicted to the original cast album of ‘Sunday in the Park with George’.”
How are you surviving the polar vortex?
“I’m going to get in trouble for this one. It’s winter! It’s cold here in the winter! Everyone is losing their mind about the temperatures. It’s a bit colder than normal, but we live in the Northeast. It’s nowhere near as bad as say, Chicago. It has caused a bit of trouble around, granted, but I actually like the cold.”
You’re performing the day before Valentine’s Day. What is your fantasy Valentine’s Day?
“I’m a working mom. Sleep!”