10 Questions with Alisa Jordheim

Lyric, coloratura soprano Alisa Jordheim will make her company debut as Gilda in Rigoletto in the beginning of February. Native of Appleton, Wisconsin, Alisa comes to us with a variety of experience in opera, oratorio, and musical theater performance; and prioritizes her health and exercise to maintain an active career. Recent appearances include: Opéra national de Paris, Palm Beach Opera, and Crypt Sessions NYC. 

Miss Jordheim was kind enough to pause her Holidays to break the ice with us before we start rehearsals on January 14th, we can't wait to meet her!

1. What was your last gig before coming to San Diego?
"Three concerts (in one day!) on New Year’s Eve with the New Philharmonic; and, a concert of opera scenes (including some from Rigoletto) with the New York Opera Society."

2. How do you relate to/feel about your character (Gilda) in Rigoletto?
"I relate to Gilda’s close relationship to her father as I am very close to mine (of course, a big difference I have with Gilda is that my mother is alive and I am very close to her, too!). I also know what it’s like to be blind to reality because of love, and I believe we all have experienced that at some point and in some way in our lives. Because Gilda has been so sheltered by her father, she has never experienced the feelings the Duke awakens in her, and as a result, her reactions to him and his behavior are believable. From the first time we see Gilda in the opera, it is apparent that she is a curious, strong girl longing for identity, knowledge, and independence. She is naïve and selfless, yet simultaneously a young woman who is strong in her convictions. I believe she is a character of many layers, and Verdi masterfully depicts her journey in his music – I can’t wait to portray her for the first time!"

3. Are there any dream roles that you would love to sing and why? And since we're dreaming it doesn't even need to be in your fach.
"I would love to sing Ophelia in Thomas’s Hamlet, because she would be such a fascinating character to play from beginning to end. I would also LOVE to sing the mezzo role of Hermia in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – she has been one of my favorite characters ever since I had the opportunity to portray her in Shakespeare’s play. She is such a feisty lady, and being of small stature myself, I relate to her on both personal and physical levels! I actually wear a bracelet engraved with Helena’s line, “And though she be but little, she is fierce,” just to keep some of Hermia with me on a daily basis!"

4. What was your introduction to opera and how did you decide this was the path you wanted to pursue.
"Both of my parents are professional musicians and professors at Lawrence University in my hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin; my dad teaches classical saxophone and music education, and my mom teaches flute and music education. I grew up around music, played several instruments, studied ballet, and sang in choirs until it became clear that the activity I was best at and loved the most was singing. I enjoy singing all genres of music, but my voice seemed most at ease in classical musical theatre and opera. So, I started taking voice lessons when I was 10 and decided to pursue vocal performance in college and as a career."

5. Name a singer you loved working with in the last year.
"Oh, I have a very hard time naming just one! I loved working with the entire cast of Candide when I sang Cunégonde at Palm Beach Opera in February 2018! Among those wonderful singers/people were Miles Mykkanen as Candide, Denyce Graves as The Old Lady, Ron Raines as Voltaire/Pangloss, and Tobias Greenhalgh as Maximilian."

6. What are your hobbies that keep you busy outside of music?
"I have always loved reading. Recently, I've been working my way through Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series about detective Kinsey Millhone (I’m currently on book/letter “X”). I also enjoy working out (I love the Insanity videos!), being active outside, catching up on my favorite Netflix shows, and keeping in touch with family and friends."

7. Fill in the blank: "If I was not an opera singer, I would be ____.”  
"A hospital nurse or nurse practitioner."

8. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why? 
"Kate Middleton – wouldn’t it be fun to see how royalty lives for a day?!"

9. Name three artists, bands, or composers on a current playlist that aren't opera related. 
"Jessica Vosk, Astor Piazzolla, and Panic! At the Disco"

10. What are you most looking forward to doing in San Diego while you’re in town?
"Soaking up some sun, visiting the beach and the zoo, exploring the city, and seeing family and friends who live on the west coast."

(Bonus) 11.What’s next for you after your gig in San Diego?
"Ninetta in Rossini’s La gazza ladra, although I’m not at liberty to say any more yet!"

Photo: Rebecca Fay Photography

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