Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I was backstage at a performance of Lucia the other day and got to chat with one of the younger people on the Lucia team, twelve year-old supernumerary Luke Yugawa (left, in circle). A “supernumerary” is a non-singing character performed, usually, by a volunteer; Seattle Opera is blessed to have dozens of people in our community eager to volunteer their time and theatrical talents to bear princesses on litters, carry corpses on biers, swell ranks of soldiers, run away from crossfire in a Vietnamese village, or any number of other things. In Lucia, Luke plays a young Lammermoor who greets Arturo Bucklaw, upon his entrance to the castle in Act Two Scene Two, and (with another young supernumerary) offers him flowers on his wedding-day.

Luke, how did you get involved in this production?

I did a lot of acting at Seattle Children’s Theatre and I have a lot of connections there. I think Paula [Podemski, Seattle Opera’s Production Coordinator] had a person who was going to play my role in this production, who backed out right before the rehearsals started. She contacted Seattle Children’s Theater, my mom saw the email, we printed it out and that day had the interview with Paula.

When might we have seen you at SCT?
Two summers ago I played a fawn in Through the Looking Glass; last summer I played Jeff in There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom.

And were you the boy in the girl’s bathroom?
I played the friend of this kid who got labeled a bully. It was about how he, sort of, changes into a better person because someone believes in him as a human being.

Let’s talk about Lucia. Where do we look for you in this opera?
I’m in Act Two Scene Two. We give Arturo flowers, as he comes down this staircase. I know it’s safe, but it shakes a little bit, and it’s hard to keep balance. It gets worse when Edgardo comes running through...that makes it shake more.

What’s your favorite part of the opera?
I really like the mad scene, with the flute.

Do you play an instrument?
Yeah, I play flute.

Have you tried to play the mad scene on your flute?
Never...I suppose I might be able to try.

How did you get started with the instrument?
My sister started playing violin when she was 3, and I’ve always been around a lot of musicians. I love the sound of the flute, and I really wanted to play it. I’ve been playing for about seven years.

Back to Lucia...what’s your least favorite part?
Ooo…that’s hard. I can’t think of any part that I don’t like. I like opera music, even when the story’s not that great.

Would you say this opera has a dumb story?
I wouldn’t say it has the best story...but for me, operas are really about music anyway.

Whose voice do you like the most?
I’d say the gold cast Edgardo, Bill Burden. His style, his voice, it’s different, it stands out from all the other people’s voices.

Do you have any advice for our characters? What would you like to be able to tell Lucia?
I would tell Lucia that if her family is gonna get killed, she should probably marry Arturo, even if she doesn’t love him. I think it’s a bit selfish of her to get all of them killed just because she was in love.

How unromantic of you! Any advice for the other characters?
I’d tell Edgardo not to freak out at Lucia’s wedding...I suppose I’d ask Enrico not to be quite so evil, not to be so hard on Lucia, even if he’s going to die if she doesn’t marry Arturo. And as for Arturo, I’d tell him to be cautious…Lucia’s got a knife!

If you were to work for an opera company when you grow up, what job would you most like to have?
I think...I’d like to be a conductor.

What surprised you the most about being in an opera?
I’ve seen a lot of operas, and I had this stereotype from just sitting there watching them. I thought they were very old fashioned. I didn’t know they were wearing wigs, for instance, I never thought about what the singers would look like when they weren’t onstage, and they’re so normal! My favorite part of this whole experience was being in the rehearsal room, watching all the people in their jeans and t-shirts, singing opera. That was pretty interesting.

Do you want to be in another opera?
Yes! [Smiles broadly.]