Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meet Our Singers: MARCY STONIKAS, Magda Sorel

When Marcy Stonikas first came to Seattle, it was to join our Young Artists Program in 2009. Since then, we’ve watched the career of this soprano—who takes on the lead in the Seattle Opera premiere of The Consul—blossom. Her voice, huge and powerful to cut across the orchestra and fill the house, yet still expressive and beautiful, raged as Turandot and bloomed as Leonore in Fidelio in 2012. This summer she’ll take part in our International Wagner Competition, and then return next season as Ariadne. But Stonikas’ path to stardom wasn’t always so clear-cut. As she describes it, when she first auditioned in Seattle, she felt like she was a risk. “With bigger voices, people are kind of afraid to touch it. You don’t know what it will become,” Stonikas says.

You worked with Peter Kazaras (former Seattle Opera YAP Director) during your time in the program. Now he’s directing The Consul. How has Peter influenced your career?
If it weren’t for Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program, I have no idea where I would be. Peter was no small part of that.

On the first day of rehearsal for The Consul, many people from Seattle Opera’s staff and cast shared real-life stories of escaping persecution, either their own or a family member’s. Did you have a strong reaction to that discussion?
My grandfather (who was Lithuanian) was drafted into the Soviet Army during World War II. He ended up spending a summer living in the forest trying to avoid the draft and because he defected, the rest of his family was sent to Siberia.
Marcy Stonikas (right) as Magda Sorel and Sarah Larsen (left) as The Secretary in rehearsal for The Consul 
Bill Mohn photo
Magda Sorel, your character, has a nightmarish experience in this production. She is fighting for her and her family’s survival. She fears for her life. How do you tap into a character like that?
I try to use every life experience that I can. I happen to be married and I have a little boy, but I can’t really go there in a way. It is helpful to have those relationships, and in fact, I even lived with my mother-in-law at one point, just like Magda does.

What’s the most challenging part of this opera for you vocally and dramatically?
What’s funny to me is that the most challenging scenes are the ones where I’m trying to interact with The Secretary. It’s hard to calm down enough to sing; it gets to the point where, because of what I’m doing, I’m actually agitated and nervous. It’s way more complicated and dramatic than simply singing an aria.

Marcy Stonikas (center) as Magda Sorel, Michael Todd Simpson as John Sorel (right) and Lucille Beer as The Mother
Bill Mohn photo
You’re headed to Europe after this. What are your thoughts on being a traveling mom?
I’m slightly trepidatious, but also, I’m excited to have my son Henry come on these intercontinental adventures with me. I want him to speak other languages, which is just a good idea if you’re the son of an opera singer. I myself speak French, German and Italian.

What are you most looking forward to about singing Magda?
I’m excited to have my most dramatic role yet; it’s going to be a big sing, that’s for sure. This story is so relevant, it could be any time period—it’s happening some place right now.

The Consul at Seattle Opera
February 22, 26, 28 and March 1, 5, 7 at 7:30 p.m. February 23 at 2 p.m.
For full cast, more information and tickets, please click here.

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