She cautions that even in a prestigious YAP or ensemble studio, the opera directors are juggling many priorities and they simply want "to get the most out of your voice right now."
When the legendary Jessye Norman receives the prestigious Glenn Gould Prize - Canada's most significant award for artistic achievement - soprano Pumeza Matshikiza will be among the impressive line-up of singers set to pay homage.
It is a piece that is so clearly a microcosm of a very specific place and time. Director Richard Jones has chosen to set it in the mid-60s in a repressive, religious Russian community where a life of domesticity, is a woman's only option.
"In the operatic canon, there's a whole lot of male swagger, seduction, anger, and violence but a notable lack of vulnerability. Dramatically, I'm interested in shame and vulnerability, particularly in the lives of men."
2019/20 is a season of revivals, perhaps disappointingly so for some of the COC's longtime audience members who won't get treated to much they haven't seen before.
Every facet of this production is thoughtful and dramatic, so much so that even the actors aren't immune from its terrors. It was announced before curtain that Stemme sustained a knee injury during a rehearsal (one look at the steeply raked set and you'll wonder the whole cast isn't on crutches!).
Hannigan's well received turn at the podium, met by an immediate and unanimous standing ovation, should serve to demonstrate to the Cleveland Orchestra, and to classical music institutions across the continent and around the globe, that making an effort to include and elevate marginalized perspectives holds significance well beyond meeting a quota or "catching up with the times."
The box seems to generate its own energy. Covered in sophisticated hues of copper and gray with a resplendent image of Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde, who had surely passed through hair and make-up before leaving Valhalla, it is of monolithic proportions.
It was at times Sondheim, at times Schwartz, at times Bernstein, but the overarching feeling (to me) was akin to Adam Guettel's masterpiece A Light in the Piazza.
What can one possibly say about Christine Goerke in this role and still do justice to the kind of singing we experienced on Saturday night? Her vocal range is not of this dimension and her finesse to Strauss' bombastic score is something to be witnessed in person.