Operagasm Exclusive Interview: Elizabeth Caballero on Why Verdi’s Requiem Is a Voice Lesson and Halloween Is Not for (some) Opera Singers
by Melissa Wimbish
We’d like to wish a hearty TOI TOI TOI to soprano Elizabeth Caballero who is gearing up for her first Verdi Requiem tomorrow with Opera Grand Rapids. I just noticed that she is singing with one of my favorite people – and teachers – Margaret Lattimore! Pretty sure all of Michigan is going to hear this one whether they buy tickets or not.
MW: We heard about your upcoming Verdi Requiem debut – congratulations! In preparing the work, are you making any new discoveries about your technique? Or about Verdi?
EC: I am actually. I’ve discovered how easy I find Verdi. Truly. I mean it’s not an easy sing but it comes very naturally to me. Verdi plays to my abilities to float & sing long powerful lines, showing my greatest vocal strength. And actually singing this piece has helped me find my true piano in the high passaggio. My high A piano was always such a tricky one & I finally got it! It turns out I was actually under-singing it for years. Now I’ve given more core to the sound & it has more tone & presence. It’s actually very exciting. Funny how we’re always learning.
MW: If you were to compare the Verdi Requiem to a live action sport, which one would it be?
I guess Rugby because it’s fast, powerful & ongoing. You have moments with big hits along with few rests but the game never stops. Just like the Requiem.
Top 5 things you do to stay healthy on the road. Go!
1. WATER WATER WATER
2. Exercise. Not only are there health benefits but it gets blood flowing which makes my vocal warm up much easier. I usually go for a quick 2/3 mile jog just to get the blood flow going.
3. Cooking for myself when I have a kitchen at the place I’m staying because that way I can control my portions, salt intake, & proper balance. It also helps you save a lot of money by not eating out all the time.
4. Stay away from alcohol (but I do have a martini to celebrate the end of the run on occasion). Alcohol dries me out too much so it’s best to avoid it.
5. Depending on the place, if it’s a very dry location, I travel with a travel humidifier that I place near my bed so that I can maintain proper hydration.
I’d like to add a 6th because it’s recent & it’s mostly for peace of mind health
6. My dog, because it’s a part of home that always travels with me & having him greet me when I return to my home away from home at the door after a long rehearsal.
Did you have any formal acting classes? What do young singers need to know about acting and movement?
When I was an Adler Fellow we had acting coaches give us classes. They were very helpful. However when I was a YA at FGO, Bernard Uzan & Diana Soviero were in charge of the program at the time. I always remember them saying how important the text was/is to the action. So all my acting comes from the text. The music is also an important factor. It guides you in your movements & action. There are many moments in operas where the composer uses a leitmotif of sorts to signify something important and you have to be aware of that and react accordingly. There are many moments where no one is singing but the music is demanding you to react a certain way. This can also happen with a single instrument. In La Traviata for example, Verdi has a tendency to use the clarinet for Alfredo quite a lot and the oboe for Violetta. Whenever I see that the clarinet is playing, I try to be more aware of what is going on and why Verdi wanted the clarinet to be playing. You hear it clearly in the card scene where Alfredo always has the clarinet with him and Violetta’s lines are doubled by the oboe. That also happens in their Act I duet. It’s things like that I believe that are important to listen for because when an instrument is ‘assigned’ to a particular role in an opera (and it begins playing at a time the character isn’t there) it helps to try and see why and what the composer intended for the character to feel at that moment. I guess that comes down to interpretation but that’s my opinion at least.
Ummmm, did we read correctly that a pup by the name of Schumie is joining you on stage for a run of La bohéme?! We need deets and pics stat.
Yes! I will be singing Musetta in La Boheme again & my little Schumie will be making his stage debut. We are both looking forward to it very much.
Where is the most dangerous place for your wallet when you’re trying to avoid spending? (Mine is Lush … love that Dream Cream.)
I enjoy going to Nordstrom Rack & Century 21. I love to find a good bargain on quality brands.
How do you feel about Lena Dunham?
I don’t follow her enough to have an opinion. I think I know she’s the writer/creator of the TV series ‘Girls’ but I’ve never watched it. I know many people enjoy the show. I might check it out some day & watch it on demand.
What are you going to be for Halloween?
You know when you dress up for a living, it’s just nice to be me on Halloween. I will be home in time to give away candy at the door to the kids this year & I’m looking forward to that. I love to see their little faces light up when you recognize their costumes & hand them candy.
Cover photo by Koke Photography