Madeline will be singing the role of Sylvia (Servilia) in the Red cast of Promenade Opera Project's Justice or Mercy (an immersive modern adaptation of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito). We got together with her to discuss her hope - both for this production and as a character!
POP: Where are you from? How did you first get interested in opera or musical theatre?
Maddy: Portland, OR. I grew up in a musical family (my mom plays oboe) and sang at church where I learned to read music and got to perform as a young singer. I also did chorus as a young person and musical theater starting in Middle School. In college there was no musical theater, just opera, so I gave it a shot and the rest is history!
POP: What are your dream roles?
Maddy: Zerbinetta in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos and Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.
POP: What's a role you would never sing that you would like to sing?
Maddy: The Count in Le Nozze di Figaro, his aria is AMAZING and he has so many wonderfully terrible character moments throughout the show.
POP: How should we as interpretive artists deal with works that are highly politicized and potentially sexist?
Maddy: Art is one of the most important ways to get people to engage with ideas that are difficult and highly polarizing. Through engaging with these ideas we have the opportunity to see the humanity in every stance and decision that a character makes and see the world through new eyes. As artists it is our duty to humanize each and every character in the stories we tell.
POP: What do you think is the best way to make opera relevant to the next generation?
Maddy: I was reading an interview with Kasper Bech Holten, the youngest conductor to sit as Artistic Director at the Royal Danish Opera House. His theory, like many others, is simply to get people to experience opera from a young age. If we can get kids to come see opera.
POP: Who is your character and how do you see them?
Maddy: My character is Sylvia, a young senator who is in love with another politician. These two are the pure lovers in the story. She is wise enough to know what is important in her world but also naive enough to really believe she can have what she wants, and because of that she fights for it. I identify with my character very strongly, as I am in a committed relationship and have been for a long time. It takes effort to build a life with someone, but it also take a measure of dumb naive hope, which Sylvia brings to this otherwise very hopeless story.
POP: What do you love about this interpretation of Tito? What’s challenging?
Maddy: I love getting to play so up close and personal with the audience and singers. There is no such thing as “cross up stage” when you’re working in a house. Everything is so much more immediate and real, it almost feels unnatural. It is challenging because it is a different kind of acting, almost like stage and screen acting. As an opera singer you get used to over exaggerating every movement for a big stage, and here you have to do the opposite, which makes it a great challenge and a wonderful way to play as an actor.
POP: What’s your favorite moment in the opera?
Maddy: I’m really looking forward to seeing how the choose your own adventure goes. I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts to their decision. Plus, as an actor it will be fun to see what new emotions I can play with in each different ending.
POP: What do you think will be special about doing this as a promenade adaptation?
Maddy: Again, the fact that we’re so close to everything makes it very special, but also the space that we all get to inhabit while seeing/acting in the show is BEAUTIFUL. Just walking into this house gives me chills. I would say come see the show just to hang out in the house!
POP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Maddy: The talent in this cast is crazy and wonderful. We have so many beautiful young singers just starting their careers. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these people is on the Met stage in 6 years. So, come see them now, up close and personal!
POP: Most importantly... which will you vote for: Justice or Mercy?
Maddy: I would vote for Mercy, one can always hope, right?