Teseo:Medea Artist Interview: Mithuna Sivaraman

Soprano Mithuna Sivaraman. Photo credit: Vero Kherian Photography

Soprano Mithuna Sivaraman. Photo credit: Vero Kherian Photography

Behind every man is a woman with a story to tell, and this May that story is TESEO:MEDEA. Mithuna Sivaraman makes her CantantiPROJECT debut as Clizia in a production that has women center stage and ready to shine.

Get to know Mithuna in the interview below.

Teseo:Medea

Music by Handel, libretto by Haym

May 11th @ 7:00pm

May 12th @ 3:30pm

Underground Theater at the Abrons Art Center

466 Grand St, New York, NY 10002

Part of the @Abrons Series Program and the 2019 New York Opera Fest.

Please introduce yourself: your name, where you’re from, what role you’re singing, and the first three things that come to mind when you think “Handel”.

Mithuna Sivaraman; third-culture kid, originally from Singapore, and a recent SF transplant now living in NYC; role: Clizia. The first three things I think about when I think about Handel: ornaments, Da Capos and Dal Segnos, and the fact that it's crazy that Handel and Bach never met, even though they lived and composed during the same time frame!

Favorite Handel piece to sing? And favorite Bach piece to sing?

Favorite Handel: - “Se pieta di me non senti” from Giulio Cesare

Favorite Bach piece: Jauchzet Gott im Allen Landen, BWV 51

What took you from Singapore to SF to NYC? And who has the best food?

I work for Ernst & Young LLP as a transfer pricing specialist within the international tax practice, and my client base shifted East. So, the firm relocated me in May 2018. As for the Singapore piece, I was born in Singapore and came to New Jersey with my family in 1996. After middle school and high school in NJ, bounced around the states for college (Georgetown) and law school (Emory), and even did a stint in London for a year (London School of Economics - General Course). My first job out of law school brought me to SF, where I lived, worked, and sang for five years. Food-wise ... Singapore has the best food overall, hands-down (hawker centers are the absolute best - I challenge you to prove me wrong!). That being said, New York has the best Italian food, and San Francisco has the best tacos and burritos!

Our production of TESEO:MEDEA emphasizes the fact that women play very important roles in this opera. How has this influenced your character’s trajectory in the plot?

I view Clizia as Agilea's ride-or-die best friend, but also as a woman who knows what she wants, and needs to do to save herself. She is an optimist, and sees the glass as half-full. And of course, she has Arcane twisted around her finger, and she's not afraid to be sassy and speak her mind!

Singing Belinda in a production of Dido and Aeneas with Phenix Opera Company in Pacifica, CA, in February 2018

Singing Belinda in a production of Dido and Aeneas with Phenix Opera Company in Pacifica, CA, in February 2018

What would you say is Clizia's number one hobby?

Thinking up of innocent pranks, but she would never cross the line ... (would she?)

If Clizia could have a theme song, what would it be?

What’s the most interesting discovery you’ve made while preparing for TESEO:MEDEA?

You can find edge in even the most "stereotypical" of characters. Clizia is usually played as girly and flighty, but if you read the libretto, her words have wit and bite, she can dish it as well as she can take it, and she can make quite the incontrovertible argument!

And if you could have a mythological superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation! It's probably the most efficient of superpowers, and it would save so much time!

I made the most of my down time in Austin, TX, during a business trip. :) Unfortunately, the boots I tried on at Allen's Boots did not come home with me (too expensive)!

I made the most of my down time in Austin, TX, during a business trip. :) Unfortunately, the boots I tried on at Allen's Boots did not come home with me (too expensive)!

One of the goals of this project is to showcase women in the arts - we have an all-female cast and a majority-female production team. What has this experience been like for you so far?

I'm blown away and honored to be singing with these women! They are all accomplished and incredibly talented, and they come to the production with a point of view. They are so committed to their characters and their craft, and it has been a humbling learning experience to observe and work with them.

Photo shoot with Vero Kherian during a visit back to San Francisco, in March 2019. I wanted a full-body promo shot that screamed #lawyeratura, and she really delivered! Photo credit: Vero Kherian Photography

Photo shoot with Vero Kherian during a visit back to San Francisco, in March 2019. I wanted a full-body promo shot that screamed #lawyeratura, and she really delivered! Photo credit: Vero Kherian Photography

We hope TESEO:MEDEA inspires other female/female-identifying artists and audience members. What do you hope they’ll take away after seeing this production?

I hope this production breaks stereotypes as to how women in opera are typically portrayed, and how female-identifying performers are typically cast. Opera at its best tells stories that are universal and relatable, and it is our job as performers to make choices that touch the hearts of everyone, regardless of whether you are a newbie to opera, or whether you've been coming to the opera for years!

Visit https://soundcloud.com/lexcoloratura to hear more of Mithuna before seeing her as Clizia in TESEO:MEDEA this May.