Rossini’s The Touchstone enjoys its final performance this coming weekend, and it features Filene Young Artist Zoie Reams as Clarice. We’re so glad she decided to choose music instead of Mandarin!
If you hadn’t chosen this career, what would you have pursued instead?
I began undergrad with a back up plan of being a Mandarin translator for corporate companies. I had taken Mandarin Chinese all four years of high school (by my mother signing me up even though I wanted to take ASL). I ended my senior year with a study abroad exchange program to Shanghai and Beijing to solidify my language before college. At the beginning of my freshman year I realized that taking Mandarin, my international relations requirements as well my first year music conservatory requirements was not feasible for me at the time. So I chose to only continue with music though I really had grown to love the Mandarin language and culture.
What do you find to be the hardest part of an opera career?
I think, for me, the most difficult part of this career falls a lot on stepping enough outside of yourself to truly create a memorable or effecting performance. Classical singing is almost entirely practiced alone until you get to a rehearsal room, but before that there’s mostly just rehearsal in a practice room or with a teacher or coach in front of you. You have to be so in tune with yourself and body and then once you get to stage you have to be able to keep that all in tact and also forget about it at the same time to truly perform. There’s both a scary and exciting aspect to that which is difficult but also attracts me to the art form.
Do you have any “hacks” that make your job easier/more enjoyable?
I have come a long way with organization. I really think that’s one of the biggest keys to success at pretty much anything. In my spare time I love to cook and actually enjoy meal prepping for a few days at a time which help makes meals easier while saving money. Little things like laying out my clothes the night before or packing for a trip 2 or 3 days in advance helps me stay mentally organized. I also love to mark and highlight my score. It’s a nerdy thing to appreciate, but I get excited to highlight my lines and color coordinate my tabs for my parts in my music. It also really helps during the learning process to see the progress you have made and the things you still need to learn.
What’s your favorite part (or parts) of the preparation/rehearsal/performance process(es)?
I have a few favorite parts of the musical and performance process. One of them is after the music is learned I feel like there is the true ability to add on layers of the character. This is when things get more fun and exciting and become more than just notes on the page. I also love the first few stage tech rehearsals. This is one of the first times you have costume and make up and are on the set in the theatre. It’s a busy time and usually quite hectic as things are more about problem solving and stringing everything together, but it’s really fun and exciting to see your and everyone’s costumes as well as be on the stage for the first time. I also love the moment that the show begins. After the orchestra tunes and the maestro steps on the podium, there’s usually dead silence, I just think that moment where the audience, cast and orchestra are are here either waiting for something to happen or waiting to start its a very interesting moment of silence where everyone is focused and I think that’s very cool and unique moment to our profession.