Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit more about yourself.
Claudia Rosenthal: I grew up in a suburb of New York City, and as a child I went to see Broadway and off-Broadway shows on a regular basis. I always loved these performances, and in my teens I decided to take voice lessons and perform in my high school's productions and choruses. I joined a local adult choir and made recordings with them. I spent two high school summers in Italy singing in the chorus of operas. I was ravenous! I then went to Yale University for my undergraduate degree, majoring in music and art history, and I have Master of Music degrees from Mannes College the New School for Music and Yale Opera in the Yale School of Music.
OI: When did you know you wanted to be an opera singer?
CR: I have always loved singing and performing, but I wasn’t completely sure if this would be my career until I went to college. Yale has a completely undergraduate-run opera company (at the time they were producing three operas a year!), and I jumped head first into their productions my freshman year. I also sang with Yale Baroque Opera Project and Yale Symphony Orchestra. As the years at Yale went on, I realized how much I loved being on stage.
OI: Do you remember the first opera you saw? Did that influence you in deciding to become an opera singer?
CR: I remember as a child being obsessed with the Ingmar Bergman movie of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte- I think we rented that video at least once a month! Though it was sung in Swedish, I was enraptured with the story, the characters, and the music. During the opera's intermission, Bergman cuts to scenes of the singers chatting and playing chess, and I remember being struck by the fact that these people weren't just characters in an opera, but actual people in real life...I could do that!
OI: How will you be preparing for the Regionals?
CR: I’ll be preparing as I have been all audition season, with thoughtful practice and plenty of sleep. The day of an audition I always have an apple before I start warming up.
OI: What do you enjoy most about participating in the National Council Auditions?
CR: The wonderful thing about the community of singers and the nomadic life of a performer is running into old friends months, maybe years, later and picking up right where you left off. The National Council Auditions brings wonderful singers together, and I was happy to run into and support friends and colleagues I’ve known from previous schools and young artist programs. Though it's a competition, there is so much camaraderie backstage!
OI: What did you learn from your experience at the Districts?
CR: The day of the Districts, I told myself to go out there and just perform. As with any opera performance, this was an opportunity to say something special with music. Viewing the Districts this way really grounded me and allowed me to have fun on the stage.
OI: What advice can you give future applicants?
Sing what you sing best- it’s as simple as that! Even if a piece isn’t considered a “standard” repertoire choice, if you sing it with something new and fresh and it really speaks to who you are as an artist, then go for it!
OI: What roles have you performed? Any dream roles you would like to sing?
CR: I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to perform many incredible roles- Adina, Giulietta, and Musetta are some of my favorites. As for dream roles for the future, I have plenty! Violetta is a big dream, but I would love to sing Norina and Pamina someday soon.
OI: Do you have a favorite opera or composer?
CR: My favorite operas tend to be ones I have performed in, and as such they run the gamut- L’elisir d’amore, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, La Bohème, Street Scene, and Dialogues des Carmélites all come to mind.
OI: What kind of music do you listen to when you want to relax?
CR: I grew up listening to Cole Porter classics, so I am a huge fan of Eartha Kitt. I also love oldies radio stations. I do listen to current music, of course, but I think the saying is true: they don’t make popular music like they used to!
OI: Do you have any upcoming performances?
CR: This summer I will be performing the role of the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw with Opera on the Avalon. It is a dream role of mine, and every day I get more and more engrossed in the psychology and inner workings of this character.