Lisette Oropesa, a 28-year-old professional opera singer, has already been in 32 operas. On October 12, she will open with the Arizona Opera as Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor, a role she has played multiple times before.
Lucia is a role Oropesa has played before with the New Jersey Opera in 2009 and Deutsche Oper am Rhein in 2011. She will also be performing new roles this season like Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare with Michigan Opera Theatre from October to November. From January to February 2013, Oropesa will play Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Florida Grand Opera.
Needless to say, she’s successful and busy.
“Getting this role under my belt again, this is one of those cornerstone roles of my repertoire so just doing it again is a treat because it’s a role I will grow into,” Oropesa said of performing Lucia.
Oropesa said her biggest performance going forward will be with the Metropolitan Opera from April to May 2013 as Gilda in Rigoletto, a role she performed with Arizona Opera in 2008.
With new characters, Oropesa said, she rehearses for two to three hours a day. She first translates the text for a new role and then learns to pronounce the words. She also listens to the opera once to hear how it sounds before she sings it on her own. Because Lucia is a role she is familiar with, Oropesa said she only needs to spend 30 minutes to an hour a day touching up her character.
Despite her preparation, Oropesa said she is always nervous before a performance because anything from a typical day has the potential to damage her voice.
“When you’re a singer, you realize how much everything affects you,” Oropesa said. “The temperature affects you, if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, if you didn’t get enough sleep; all those little things affect your voice.”
To counter these risks inherent in a singer’s life, Oropesa eats healthy foods and runs regularly. This way, she said, she can focus on portraying the character instead of worrying about her voice. But certain things like allergies, she said, are unavoidable.
“I try not to freak out because that will just make you feel worst,” Oropesa said. “If you freak out, you still have to get through the rest of the night. You can’t let it get to you. It’s a very focused art form so I just try to focus.”
Oropesa’s mother, a former opera singer, taught her three daughters how to sing at an early age. Oropesa was the only one who pursued professional singing after her mother encouraged her to audition for Louisiana State University’s music department. Now her sisters, Oropesa said, only sing when her family gets together for a karaoke night.
“We all get together at home and my aunt has a karaoke machine and we put that sucker on and we sing until we can’t sing anymore,” Oropesa said. “It’s harmonized and we’re all up in it. It’s so awesome! I love making music with other people.”
Though away from her family, Oropesa is enjoying her time in Phoenix.
“I love the company. They are really, really great people, and I love Arizona,” Oropesa said. “The energy, the atmosphere of this location is just so unique. I’m just in love with it every time I go outside in the morning on my morning run. I just feel this is totally just a special place.”
As she continues with her career, Oropesa said her dream is to one day sing the part of The Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro. She said she knows she has to wait and grow into the role before she is ready, but that is okay with her.
“It takes several years to become a huge star,” Oropesa said. “Most of the biggest stars you know are in their 40s which is awesome and I hope to get to that point when I’m at that peak of my career.”
There is one person, Oropesa said, who she cannot sing better than, even with her 25 years of experience.
“Mariah Carey is untouchable,” Oropesa said. “I literally cannot sing all those notes, so she’s the best.”
For those wishing to see Oropesa at the Orpheum Theatre this October, tickets for Lucia di Lammermoor are available via Ticketmaster.
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