Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MEET OUR SINGERS: Emily Hindrichs and Mari Moriya, Queens of the Night

Now that both our talented casts for The Magic Flute have had some time to settle into town, we've begun chatting with the singers about their roles here and their careers in general.

Today, we introduce you to our two Queens of the Night: soprano Emily Hindrichs, who performs on Saturdays and Wednesdays, and soprano Mari Moriya, who takes on the role on Sundays and Fridays. (To the right, see a Queen of the Night costume sketch by designer Zandra Rhodes.) Both are making their Seattle Opera debuts in the role, though you may recognize Hindrichs from the Young Artists Program in both 07/08 and 08/09. We asked them about the Queen's famous arias, and also find out what they've been up to lately.

The Queen’s two arias are so impressive. Do you find them really hard to sing?

Emily: The Queen's first aria, "O zittre nicht," is one of my favorites to sing. It's a lot less flash and dash compared to the more famous Vengeance Aria, but it's one of the only opportunities the Queen has to show that she can really SING. But the Vengeance Aria presents its own set of challenges, especially if the director has you dragging Pamina across the floor by the wrist (which I've done before, but not in this production!).
Mari: Yes, it is definitely something hard to sing because all the notes should be very precise. And everybody knows these arias! Singing the Queen has some unique stresses that I do not have with other roles.

Should the audience be able to read between the lines in “O zittre nicht,” even if Tamino can’t? Or are you trying to seduce us, too?

Mari: What the Queen delivers should be believable, so the goal is to seduce both Tamino and audience.
Emily: Director Chris Alexander's vision of the Queen is more faceted than most. He wants her to be real, genuinely hurt, and vulnerable when she first comes to the stage. She's trying to get her way, to be sure, but it's in the interest of saving her daughter. I think it's a rare opportunity to play her as something more than manipulative and power-hungry.

Does the Queen love her daughter?

Emily: Absolutely. Only from deep love could such incredible anger and venom spring forth. She's a woman of extremes!
Mari: Yes, I think so. Pamina is the Queen's daughter—she is hers.

Emily, your first audition for the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, in December of 2006, was the Queen’s first aria. How long have you been singing these pieces, and how have they changed?

The Queen was my first operatic role—ever. I was just discovering this crazy upper extension in my voice, and singing really high was the most fun thing I had ever been asked to do. After auditioning for doctoral programs with those arias, I knew I had to put them on the shelf for a little while.

When I returned to “O zittre nicht” in 2006, she was a lot more ready to be seen, and I was a lot more ready to sing her. Every year, the arias evolve for me—it's a very long-term relationship we have!

Emily Hindrichs as Tytania in the Young Artists Program production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2009. Also pictured is Jeffrey Madison as Bottom.
Photo by Rozarii Lynch

Tell us about your career as an academic. What are you researching/writing/teaching these days, when you get a chance to get off stage?

I finished my dissertation during a run of Magic Flute a few years ago. When it was finally submitted and approved, I felt this huge sense of relief, followed by incredible restlessness. Getting my doctorate was the big goal since I was in junior high school, and suddenly it was over. Since then, I've been rattling around ideas for academic papers and maybe even a book, but I have the opportunity to do some really great singing—that thing I spent so many years writing about—and I'm focusing on doing that to the very best of my ability.

Mari, does the Japanese language have more in common with German or with Italian?

Phonetically, Japanese has much more in common with Italian than with German. I always feel it’s much easier to sing in Italian—it’s such a vocally friendly language. However, I like to sing in German, as well! German has some beauty in it, too.

When you did The Magic Flute at the Met, in the Taymor production, did you sing and do the dialogue in German, or in the McClatchy English version?

I sang in English at the Met. I have had so many combinations for The Magic Flute: German singing with German dialogue, singing in German with English dialogue, and English for both of singing and dialogues.

Mari Moriya rehearses the Queen of the Night's aria "Der Hölle Rache." (Photo by Alan Alabastro)

Do you sing much in Japan these days?

I'm not singing in Japan much, but I hope to sing in my country as much as I do in America and Europe, so I can invite all my family and friends to my performances.

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