Meet the Encouragement Winners 2014: Alexis Rodda

Alexis Rodda - Soprano Age 26

Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Alexis Rodda: I am a soprano from northern New Jersey. I went to Princeton for my undergrad, Mannes for my masters, and now the City University of New York for my doctorate. Some of my favorite roles I've sung are Mimi and The Witch from Hansel und Gretel.

OI: What roles have you sung?  What would your dream role be?

AR: I've sung The Witch in Hansel und Gretel, Mimi in La Bohème, Micaela in Carmen, Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Penelope in Return of Ulysses, and Berta in Barber of Seville. I've also done quite a few roles from new operas, including Nora/Alice in She and After by Daniel Felsenfeld. I have a lot of dream roles so that's a tough question, but I would love to sing Salome some day.

OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer?  Do you come from a musical family?

AR: I come from a very musical family! My cousin was a classical pianist, another cousin is a musical theater singer and has her own band, and my sister is an excellent trumpet player. I started my interest in music very young in instrumental music, playing the tuba in my school orchestra. I was also always very interested in classical musical theater which led naturally to my interest in opera, which began in high school.

OI: Do you have a favorite composer?  Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?

AR: My favorite composer is Strauss. His music is complex but accessible and his operas have some of the most compelling characters in the repertoire! It may be cliche but Renée Fleming is a great role model of mine. She is a very intelligent singer and she is open-minded about the types of opportunities she takes on, such as her jazz album or singing the Super Bowl, which has led to even greater success for her. I really admire that business acumen!

OI: What does it mean to you to win an Encouragement Award?

AR: It's a great honor which to me feels like a culmination of an excellent year of work both personally and with my many professors and coaches who have guided me, including my teachers Arthur Levy and Meagan Miller.

OI: What did the experience of participating in the auditions teach you?  What did you enjoy most about the experience?

AR: Participating in the auditions always reminds me how many wonderful singers there are-- and in New York City alone! I love seeing so many young and talented people striving to do their best. I also enjoy that everyone has their own brand of greatness; it's very inspiring and motivating.

OI: How do you get ready for a performance or audition? 

AR: If I have the luxury of time, I usually start with a short yoga session, lots of water, and then a bunch of jaw/tongue tension release exercises I've learned through my participation in a program called Il Cuore Canta with Szamosi Method teachers Deborah Carmichael and Kinga Cserjési. Then I warm up with a tape from my voice teacher, Arthur. I wouldn't say I have any real rituals except that I always drink a ton of coffee before every audition. Some singers don't like coffee because it sparks nerves, but for me it pumps me up and makes my throat feel fabulous! Or so I think!

OI: What advice would you give to someone auditioning next year?

AR: To choose something that shows what YOU can do, not what someone else can do! Even if you love the way your favorite singer does a particular aria or Fach, it might not be right for you. As long as you remain true to yourself as a singer, you will give a great performance!