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Friday, January 21, 2022

‘I Savor Everything’: Soprano’s stellar twist at Met Opera

Soprano Erin Morley is no stranger to the Metropolitan Opera, where she has performed for over a decade. But until now, she has never been the face of the company.

That has changed in recent weeks as her image – zoomed in to the size of buses and billboards – contributed to her stellar take on Eurydice, which premiered Tuesday at the Met.

“I feel like I’ll never get used to seeing my face on a billboard,” Morley, 41, said in an interview Wednesday morning. “It was definitely weird to walk by him every day on the way to rehearsal.”

Morley sings the title role in an opera composed by Matthew Aucoin, to a libretto by Sarah Rule after her 2003 play. Eurydice is the heart of this retelling of a classic myth, which premiered at the Los Angeles Opera in early 2020. In Helm’s concept, she is reunited with her dead father in the underworld and is ambivalent (at best) about her relationship with the greatest musician in history. ; she struggles with these insecure feelings in the work’s most essential aria: “This is what it means to love an artist.”

Peter Gelb, CEO of Met, mentioned this aria during a performance at a post-premiere party. Representing the cast in a superlative manner, he said, “She sings ‘what it means to love an artist.’ But we will learn what it means to love her, the incomparable Erin Morley. “

Since her Metropolitan debut in 2008 as a madrigalist in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Morley has become a stage stealer – comic and utterly accurate in the musical stratosphere, like Olympia in Offenbach’s Quest for Hoffman; beckoning even behind the scenes of the Woodbird singing in Wagner’s opera Siegfried; and the sheer lyrical power that holds her alongside Renee Fleming and Elina Garanca as Sophie in Strauss’s The Cavalier of the Roses. For the Met’s live At-Home Gala at the start of the pandemic, she unforgettably accompanied herself on the piano in the bel canto show Chacun le sait from Donizetti’s opera La Fille du Régiment.

In an interview, Gelb said the Met is “very interested” in her future. Over the next four seasons, she will play eight different roles, including Pamina in Mozart’s new production of The Magic Flute and a leading role in the Baroque stylization that the troupe is developing.

But first, “Eurydice”, which will continue at the Metropolitan until December 16 and will be broadcast in theaters on December 4. Still at the peak of the premiere, she spoke about preparing for the role, overcoming the pandemic and returning to the Met. … Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

What is your relationship with contemporary opera?

When I was in college, I composed a lot of new music. I had many composer friends and loved to study their music. Since then I have made contemporary music, but not premieres, and certainly not opera premieres. Many of my colleagues have written more new operas than me. I saw their experience and how much it feeds them, but I still did not understand it. This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever participated in.

How did the thrust of something new differ from the standard repertoire?

Both situations have a certain severity for them. But with this I felt a certain responsibility: I am the first to bring this to the Met, and I offer people a kind of guideline for the future.

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Obviously, the study of a new work is fraught with enormous difficulties, because there are no references to it, and this takes exponentially more time. I first spoke to Matt two and a half years ago. He writes very mathematical rhythms. Never before had I been so thoroughly questioned; There were days when I felt like I wasted 20 minutes on two dimensions. This is partly due to the fact that he writes with the intention of achieving some kind of natural speech rhythms. Sounds good, but it takes a long time.

You’ve been singing with Met for a while now, but how does it feel to be on posters and posters?

I started with Met on their Young Artists program. Based on this, this is a difficult bridge to a full-fledged professional, and the Met has offered me many such bridges. It is somehow wonderful and pleasant to take the audience with you on a journey and know that the people who saw me in Eurydice also saw me in Manon Lescaut.

Looking at the billboards, I feel a certain responsibility to put on the show, bring people to the theater, and celebrate this moment the Met is experiencing. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort. But it really inspired me to put a lot more energy into it.

The real highlight of the Met At-Home Gala was that you accompanied yourself.

It was nice and beautiful when I became a pianist again. For some time I was an accompanist and did not understand how much I missed it. However, it was unpleasant not to cooperate with anyone. It was very interesting to watch and be a part of this experience, but it was so sad just to be alone.

We were all so nervous that day. When I walked, my husband took our children to the park, because there was nowhere to go. They came back after I finished and my daughter said, “Mom, you missed the note.” What I had.

But you seemed so light-hearted, not nervous at all. And you have landed – what a high note in “Chacun le sait“?

There is a high F at the end. That’s why I’m a performer. I respond well to adrenaline. I was actually nervous that day. And I missed it. I was so lacking in adrenaline during the pandemic that I jumped with a parachute. I remember how I felt after it was over: it was just like performing on stage in the Metropolitan.

What was it like finally returning to the Met?

About a year ago I did a photo shoot at Met for Town & Country with Angel Blue, Isabelle Leonard and Peter. And it was absolutely creepy to be in a building with the lights off and no one. It was so deeply depressing.

Then I came to the house for my first rehearsal of “Eurydice” – my heart was almost unbearable. It was a great reunion, but it was also a little sad because we have all been through a lot. Everyone seems to have changed; Now I give my projects 10, 20 percent more, because I just don’t know if I can do it again. It was so hard to lose him during the pandemic that now I enjoy everything much more.

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