Meet The Step-Mother and the Son/Bird, two of the most important characters from the Grimm Brothers’ dark and sinister tale, The Juniper Tree. Here is a symbolic universe where we find the apple of sin, the tree of fertility and the bird of renewal.

At the heart of these symbols dominates a terrible and evil character, the Step-Mother, while the bird is the hope of a new and better world. These two wildly unique and disturbingly different characters share a troublesome story-line, filled with deceit, manipulation, hope, fear and, most of all, jealousy. The Juniper Tree sets in place an atmosphere of darkness, while all the while bringing with it a sparkle of hope.

Navigating through her marriage and fighting for her daughter’s recognition, The Step-Mother falls into a rabbit hole of darkness, jealousy, vendettas and, eventually, madness. She is driven by impulsiveness and her desire to be the center of her husband’s life. She gradually loses her grip on reality and becomes obsessed with the visions she has of her step-son. Through madness and seduction, the Step-Mother ultimately gets what she wants, but at which cost? She makes a deal with the devil, and will most definitely have to pay.

Never take an apple from a stranger, they say. Well, in this case, don’t ever take one from a family member either. Blood, gnarled roots, leaves, feathers and, of course, the famous apple. The ultimate symbol of temptation and the fall into madness. How to capture these elements without going overboard? Here is my interpretation…

Happy Halloween 🎃 👻
Today, for my very final character, on this very spooky day of witches and ghosts, I am not an opera character. I have chosen to impersonate Schubert’s Lied “Der Tod und das Mädchen“, the girl and death.
The girl, afraid of dying, cries out to be saved from her inevitable doom. But what if Death was nice? Schubert’s Lied alludes to this. Maybe Death is kind and maybe death is welcoming. Or, maybe Death is simply manipulative and hypocritical. We will never know!
But what we do know is that, tonight, when the lights go low, when the air gets crisp and owls howl, creatures will be roaming. This year, they may not be roaming our streets, but they will be there. The monsters are ALWAYS there 😈
Der Tod und das Mädchen – Schubert

“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers ‘tis near Halloween.’”
Beware of stories as old as time, they hold within them creatures that should not be seen. Look out for the Gingerbread Witch, she will turn little kids into treats. Humperdinck brought to us Hansel and Gretel through music, and did not leave out the witch’s evil laugh.
As Halloween approaches, let the spirits roam free and disguise yourself as the evilest vilain you can imagine. Let’s enjoy the spooky season even in confinement, cause, really, is there anything scarier than 2020 😉

Amidst a dark and twisted family, Massenet perfectly incorporated a kind and passionate Cinderella. Although her stepmother, Madame de la Haltière, represents all that is wrong with the world, Cinderella is still able to follow her dreams and go after what she wants. Why not take example of this and not allow the heaviness of 2020 to bring us down. Let’s bring out the glitter and find compassion in our hearts, in order to overcome this challenging Thanksgiving weekend.
Although the pandemic has closed down our venues and has canceled our performances, we will push through. We will get through this. Like Cinderella, let’s not let the darkness overcome our light. The show must go on!

Who says I can’t have my cake and eat it too?
« Cosi fan tutte”, an opera composed by Mozart in 1790, translates to “so do all of them”, meaning all women are the same. Oh really?
Today, I present to you Dorabella, a strong willed, naïve, but “does what she wants” kinda girl. She is the type of woman we should strive to be. She does not care what people think, she drinks her hot chocolate and does what her heart desires. We should be able to have the same openness to life, to enjoy every desert without counting the calories, to whole heartedly see the good in people without doubting their loyalty, and to have a sexuality that belongs to us and us alone.
We expect all women to fit into one standard of beauty, especially in opera. We judge ourselves, and we judge others. How can we say that times have really changed, if us, as women, we won’t let ourselves have that little piece of cake? All shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities are beautiful, in opera and in life. We need to accept these differences, to embrace them and to make them part of our art form. We are not all the same, because we are all unique, and we have a reason to love ourselves, especially our differences.
Cosi fan tutte : Smanie Implacabili (Mozart)

We often believe that operas have older ideologies that do not touch us in our modern world. I tend to disagree. Vanessa is a modern opera written in 1956. It captures the fragility of the human psyche, and is what I perceive as a story about mental illness. A story about loss, loneliness and isolation, not unlike the present day pandemic, which could threaten the mental stability of so many of us.
Introducing my vision of Erika, frozen in grief, based on the aria “Must the Winter Come so Soon” from S. Barber’s opera “Vanessa”. Erika is a ray of sunshine in a twisted and broken world. She is hope, joy, youth and innocence amidst a home filled with deception and loss. Although we hope that she escapes the darkness of the world surrounding her, she does not end up overcoming it. She loses her will to fight, lies outside and uses the cold to put an end to her pregnancy.
So as Winter approaches and as the lights dim low, do not forget to check on your loved ones. A holiday season in quarantine will be hard, especially for those alone. Love the people around you, let them know you are there, because even the brightest of stars can lose themselves in a night sky.
Vanessa : Must the Winter Come So Soon (Barber)