From the wacky Baroness Aspasia in The Touchstone to the young shepherd in Tosca and now the doomed son in The Juniper Tree, Megan is one of the busiest singers at the Trap this summer!
Which experience(s) most influenced your decision to become a professional singer? What’s the earliest point in your life that you can identify in pointing you in this direction?
I grew up hearing my Grandmothers sing in Russian church. Their voices were beautiful! One of them would start a song, and everyone else would join in with harmonies. This music has been passed down for generations; no sheet music, no instruments. I remember standing there and thinking that that music was absolute bliss! I am so grateful they could show me how important music was at such a young age and I sing to honor them always!
What aspects of your role in this summer’s opera are natural fit with your personality and/or which aspects are a stretch for you?
My role as the Son/Bird in The Juniper Tree couldn’t be more different from who I truly am day-to-day. I’m nothing like an actual young boy, and that kind of person is so far away from where I naturally live in my body. However, being able to play characters that are outside of my comfort zone like this is exactly why I love this art form so much! I enjoy the challenge and love exploring what I can learn about myself through completely different mannerisms and ways of thinking. The Son/Bird is such a lovely and innocent character. He simply wants to make connections with his family. Unfortunately, there is a wicked turn of events where he is chopped up by his step-mother and fed to his father. While I know that this is shocking, I admire how he comes back for revenge to make things right. He must not only be reincarnated, but he must also be strong enough to grow up to bring his family back together. I am a huge Grimm’s Fairy-Tale fan, so this one is especially fun for me!
Can you tell us an anecdote or story from your training or career so far that will give us insight into what makes you tick as an artist?
While I was in college, I was able to volunteer for the Metropolitan Opera Membership Program. Because of this, I was lucky enough to attend tons of shows (I must have seen every night of their new Rigoletto production). This is when I truly fell in love with opera. I learned so much from standing all the way in the back of that enormous theater. I think seeing and hearing those amazing singers so often fueled me as an artist. They are the reason I need to do this for the rest of my life!
What’s your favorite part (or parts) of the preparation/rehearsal/performance process(es)?
I love it all! Performing is unlike anything else! Somehow, being in front of people is a safe place. I am a bit of a “stage animal”, if you will. I can’t help but absolutely love exploring new characters and digging into new ways to tell their story, as me.
Do you have any artistic heroes? People whose careers or artistry you particularly look up to?
FLICKA. Need I say more? I was able to work with her on Cherubino from Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart, one of her most famous roles! It was a life changing moment for me.
What’s your dream role and why?
There are too many! There are so many wonderful roles that I want to dig into – Octavian, Romeo, Carmen, Mélisande, Rosina, Donna Elvira, (the list goes on and on). But I my most recent obsession is Cendrillon! I think the music is pure heaven! I have always been in love with Cinderella of all forms, but this French version by Massenet has my heart. She is so pure, innocent, and loving. I think it would be such a joy to be Cendrillon; to find my true love and to whisk away the evils of the world through kindness. I love it so much I even listen to it while I drive. I cannot wait to sing Cendrillon one day!
What’s the most exciting thing you think is happening in the opera industry today? The most discouraging/challenging thing?
I think that opera is so important in the world that we live in today. I believe that opera is an art form that is all about connecting with others, whether it be on stage or off. How often do people get the chance to sit in a room and focus solely on relating to one another? There are so many new operas that are being premiered around the world that speak so strongly to all of us. As an example, I was in the World Premier of O Columbia by Gregory Spears and Royce Vavrek at Houston Grand Opera. It focused on the 2003 loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia. We were able to sing for current employees at NASA, some who even worked on the mission themselves. It was a raw experience that completely changed me as an artist. The whole rehearsal process meant so much to me, and I felt that the opera was so special to premier in Houston. It was a beautiful thing and I believe that it is direct proof of how important opera can be!
We’re giving you a time machine: What period, or moment in musical history, would you travel to and why?
I would have to say that I would love to travel back to the 1800’s and meet the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and Emily Dickinson. Of course, Dickinson was alive a little later. So maybe I can do two trips to meet them all? All their works have inspired and shaped the way I see storytelling. Literature was my first love, and I am so lucky to have found an art form that incorporates not only lush librettos, but also beautiful music and acting. Digging into opera librettos are a huge part of what fuels me as an artist! Also, speaking with Dickinson through her bedroom door would be unreal!
I have a new border collie puppy who loves opera! He loves when I practice at home and will curl up under the piano to listen. He is and will always be my best audience!
My sisters and I all sing. All three of us love playing piano and making music together! (You can imagine how loud our home is – sorry Dad). We grew up singing in church and choir together; not to mention we still provide the entertainment at every family event. It is something that has always brought my family together and we are so grateful for it!