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<<  -- 4 --  Maria Nockin    HONEST WORK

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I had been doing auditions for a while and winning many of the competitions that I entered. I had won the Baltimore Opera competition. I got a prize, not first place, at Palm Beach. I think I also got second prize in the McAllister contest in Indianapolis. All of this was good exposure because the judges were influential people who had input in various theaters.

I did the Marguerite McCammon competition in Fort Worth, Texas which is only held every second year and I won that. Jonathan Pell of the Dallas Opera was one of the judges. He was incredibly helpful. The day after the competition was over he was back in Dallas on the phone telling just about every management firm in NYC that he thought I had great potential. He helped me both with management and with getting my name out to opera companies. Before that I had been winning competitions but I had not been getting jobs.

I auditioned for Maestro Rescigno and he said he wanted me to sing for the General Manager of Florentine Opera, so I did. It was then that I was cast as Isabella without anyone looking at my resume. Other people had considered giving me roles but chose to wait until I had some stage experience. Once I knew I had the role I had a year to study like crazy for the performances. The rehearsals went well but I was nervous before the première. It was my first time doing anything like that.

On the night of the première, just before curtain time, there was a knock on my dressing room door. When I opened it, conductor Joe Rescigno and general manager Dennis Hanthorn were standing there with programs. Dennis said, 'We were just reading your bio and wondered if this is your professional début.' I thought to myself 'I'm blown! They're going to send me away because they don't trust me with the show,' but I had my costume and wig on and it was five minutes to curtain time. I said 'Yes,' and they said 'Well, OK, good luck.'

Ian Campbell was in the audience that night. My mother had talked to him before the show and she knew that he was casting L'Italiana. She asked if he was going to hire me and was told that he did not know yet. At intermission he came to find her, saying that he was going to hire me right away. He also gave me contracts for The Barber of Seville and a new opera by Myron Fink, The Conquistador.

MN: When will you sing in San Diego again?

VG: I think it will be a couple of years from now. I will be singing Sesto in Handel's Giulio Cesare. That will be my first time singing that role and I'm looking forward to that. It should be a great time. I always love to get back to San Diego whenever I can get there. Ewa Podles is in it and I'm really excited to work with her because she has the voice I dream of having, with a full rich sound in the lower register.

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Copyright © 13 June 2004 Maria Nockin, Arizona, USA

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