In this series, Artist Interviews, we hear what our artists have to say about the project they're currently part of...
Allyson Dezii, who sings the title role of Alcina, gives her take on Alcina's power and humanity and how her view of Alcina has changed:
We know Alcina is a powerful sorceress who isn't always the nicest person on the block (or island). But in your opinion, what are Alcina's redeeming qualities?
Alcina has many redeeming qualities! Though used primarily for evil, Alcina's unwavering tenacity and interminable will is admirable. She tries everything she can possibly think of to get what she wants, even in her moments of desperation and total despair, so you definitely have to give the lady credit where credit is due! My days tend to be a bit more "beastly" when they begin with an Alcina practice session.
This is not your first introduction to the role of Alcina. What was your first impression of her?
My first impression of Alcina...am I allowed to say bad-ass?! If not, then: Femme fatale vixen who stops at nothing to attain all of her wildest desires. I was so caught up in her immense power that her loss of power never truly made sense to me. But the beautiful thing about time is that, over time, you evolve. Your ideas change with every new life experience, which leads beautifully into your next question...
Has your understanding of her changed during this production, and if so, how?
Alcina's humanity. I do realize that I may get some confused reactions with this initial response, but hear me out. The undoing of Alcina the Sorceress is Alcina's experience of human emotion- and an array of intense emotions at that- for the first time, which is a powerfully raw, beautiful thing to witness. It is a reminder for us all that it is better to exist passionately than to merely exist as a shell, feeling and therefore experiencing nothing at all.
Of course, we dislike her for all of the terrible things that she has done to her prisoners, but we watch (and listen) to her soul come alive with her love for Ruggiero over the course of the opera. We witness her ecstasy in "Di cor mio," her passion and cunning in "Si, son quella." Her first tears and jabs of pain in "Ah, mio cor." Her first helpless moments of desperation in "Ombre pallide". Her first maddening heartbreak in "Ma quando tornerai." Her first moment of empty hopelessness in "Mi restano." Her first pangs of jealousy in the final trio as she watches the man she loves reunite with his true love.
To feel sympathy for such a callous villain is remarkable, achieved only through the pathos of Handel's music and the singer's dedication to engage and lead the audience through Alcina's journey towards humanity. The undoing of Alcina is essentially a crash-course in common human emotion, which is why opera is easier to relate to than many people think. No, most of us are not power-hungry sorceresses, but we all know what is feels like to experience love and loss.
What is your favorite moment in the opera and why?
This is a ridiculously hard question to answer because Alcina has so many delicious moments, but my favorite has to be "Ah, mio cor"- when Alcina cries for the first time in her hundreds of years of existence. Handel's musical genius captures her shock and pain beautifully, I simply cannot use any other word to describe it. The steady plodding/beating of her heart in the orchestra, the falling tear motif, the hollow emptiness of c-minor, the multiple octave+ leaps in the vocal line to emphasize her loss of control...stunning and heart-wrenching. I constantly have to remind myself of my technique during this aria because it is so easy to give into the emotion and lose your composure, but you can't allow it to take over completely because opera singers still have to cry beautifully! (Says the soprano who languishes and dies often)
Come see Allyson in the role of Alcina on March 6th!
Event details and tickets are available here.