The sopranos in Arizona Opera’s production this weekend of Verdi’s “La Traviata” are both making their debuts in the role of Violetta.
We caught up with American Caitlin Lynch, who has performed in two other Arizona productions — as Fiordiligi in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” in 2009 and as Constanze in Mozart’s “The Abduction From the Seraglio” in 2011 — and with Canadian Ambur Braid, making her Arizona Opera and U.S. debuts, to talk about the challenge of learning a new role.
Both women are relative newcomers with about seven years on professional stages. Lynch will sing the role Sunday afternoon at Tucson Music Hall; Braid will sing it Saturday night.
Best known for
Braid: Mozart and Handel. “I live sort of up high, in the high notes.”
Lynch: Mozart. “Any Mozart role I feel at home in because I’ve done it more than any other composer.”
Learning the role
Braid: “I learned the aria a year ago and the rest of it I learned over the summer. And then I didn’t touch it until a week before I came here. … That’s my key, the way I learn things. I really like learning things and then leaving it and coming back to it.”
Lynch: “The role is so intimidating it is hard to feel totally worthy of it, ever. I think especially in preparation, it is one of those things that before you do it you don’t know if you can. Kind of like childbirth.” (She gave birth to her son 17 months ago.) “It’s just one of those things that it kind of feels like an overwhelming task until you do it. I’m at that point where I feel I can.”
Biggest challenge with Violetta
Braid: “At the beginning of rehearsals, I was like OK, I’m just learning you. I’m going to give 110 percent right now and scale it backwards. I want to know how far I can push it and where to stop and what percentage I need to give where it is effective and I’m not frightening people.”
Lynch: “My entire vocal range is being used, not just the notes but the range of expression. It’s high and it’s low, it’s loud and it’s soft, it’s fast and it’s slow. She has to be the party girl to start ... and by the end she’s on her death bed.”
At home in the role
Braid: “It’s a character that has a lot of strength and it counter-balances with some vulnerability at times. That also goes along with my personal being.”
Lynch: “She’s very vulnerable and I think as artists we are very vulnerable. And I think I relate to her in that way.”
A future with Violetta
Braid: “It looks to be in my future so that’s really nice. And it will get easier every time.... And the more you do something the easier it gets.”
Lynch: “I’m doing it again this summer. ... I honestly thought I would try it in Arizona, see how it goes. … I knew I could sing the notes, but that’s a different thing from knowing you could pull it off. … Now that I’ve done it, I want to do it again and again and get to know her better and really make it my own.”