Boston Lyric Opera opens its 40th anniversary season with Carmen on Sept. 23-Oct. 2, bringing opera back to the Boston Opera House for the first time in 25 years. A co-production with the San Francisco Opera, the show marks the U.S. debut of provocative Catalan director Calixto Bieito and stars mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano in the title role. She lent us her voice for a few questions.
You’ve performed with the BLO before, starring in Don Giovanni last year. What do you enjoy about working with them? They hire wonderful people, who come prepared. From day one, we can have dialogue about the story we’re planning on telling and the things we want to highlight. There’s always an atmosphere of respect. Everyone here wants to put on a great performance and give the audience something that will be memorable, a powerful experience.
How does this staging of Carmen differ from your previous time in the role? They were both in updated, more modern settings—settings that would be closer to things that people can visually relate to. I feel very fortunate in that both of them that I’ve done, I think they really highlight the humanity of all the characters, rather than a stereotype of the character. This production is very focused on the storytelling between this man and this woman, and the complexities of their relationships—these ideas that are ever-enduring in terms of human relationships of love vs. lust, freedom vs. possession and how physical chemistry with a person doesn’t make them the best choice for a partner.
Are you looking forward to performing at the Boston Opera House? Very much so. I have never actually been in the Boston Opera House. … I’m very excited to get into the theater and try it out. It’s a beautiful space, which I think is very fitting for our Carmen production.
What’s the most important thing you do to before performances? Rest. I want to rest my voice, but I also want to rest my body. Carmen is typically a very physical show. I tend to get manhandled quite a bit. Sometimes I find that after a long series of rehearsals, I’m a little sore. The best thing to do is to be quiet, cook myself a nice dinner, maybe go see a movie. It’s incredibly boring, but that’s the best way for me to fill my gas tank.
THE IMPROPER’S 2016 FALL ARTS PREVIEW: DANCE | VISUAL ARTS | MUSIC | COMEDY