Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lisel Perrine, Trang and Huy's Daughter in AMELIA

Lisel Perrine (left, outside McCaw Hall) is a freshman at Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle, where she takes honors classes, runs track and cross-country, and plays the piano. This spring she managed to fit another extra-curricular activity into her schedule: performing as a supernumerary in Amelia. Perrine played Huy and Trang’s daughter, a girl killed by the Political Official when Dodge (Amelia’s father, who has been captured) refuses to answer any questions. Perrine appeared in both the Vietnam flashback scene and again in the second act hospital scene.

Perrine saw her first opera at age 5 (Die Fledermaus), and has been attending Seattle Opera performances ever since. Although she doesn’t have a favorite opera, she says Amelia ranks pretty high on her list. “[It] was something I could relate to. It dealt with subjects that I, and the people around me, have personal ties to.” And, she said, it was easy to connect with the characters: “[They] seem real and closer to my life than those from other operas.”

Here she shares a bit about her background, how she prepared for her role, and artists that inspire her.

How long have you been performing?
I have been performing since I was about three years old. I attended Pacific Northwest Ballet for nine years, and performed in The Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and seven runs of The Nutcracker. With the Opera, I have been in the 2005 and 2009 performances of Das Rheingold.

Who do you consider your performance role models?
A role model for me is my namesake, Lisel Salzer, who was a very accomplished painter. She would always tell me that "All art forms are connected." I used to think that dancing was what I wanted to do but then I discovered acting and my love for writing. And so my years of dancing and piano-playing have helped me to feel the music and coordinate what I am hearing with what I am acting.

How is performing in an opera a different experience than performing in a ballet?
At the Opera I was able to interact with everyone involved in the performance instead of having the children and teenagers separated from the adults. (At right: Perrine with William Burden (Dodge).) Meeting and conversing with the principals of Amelia was something foreign and I thoroughly loved being able to learn about the people and not just watch them from afar. Also, in this production I had a bigger part than I have had in the ballets, so I was given specific instruction for my character, instead of general instruction for a whole group of people.

How did you prepare for your role?
I try to put a real person behind the character I am portraying, so I talked to veterans of war and read books on the Vietnam War to research a bit about my part. And I talked with family friends who lost their father in the Vietnam War and learned about their experiences.

What was the most difficult part of playing this role?
Making my fall [when her character is shot toward the end of the scene] look convincing and at the same time preventing myself from injury was the most challenging part.

What was your favorite part of this experience?
One of my favorite parts was being able to work with so many wonderful people. I have learned so much from the artists. This was my third time working with [director] Stephen Wadsworth (left), and each time I get to know him a little bit better. I cannot wait for the next Ring cycle when he will come back to Seattle—Stephen said that he was going to bring his daughter to Seattle and I cannot wait to meet him this time as a daddy. Getting to know the people involved in giving life to this opera was incredibly valuable to me.

Top two photos courtesy Lynn Ogdon. Bottom photo © Alan Alabastro.

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