Death in Venice at La Scala
Orlando Furioso at Champs-Élysées

Melody Moore Interview

Melody-moore This week the soprano Melody Moore (pictured left) performs with New Century Chamber Orchestra. She will be singing in Stephen Schwartz's Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera next month, Gordon Getty's Plump Jack with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester in May, and returns to San Francisco for the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis' Heart of a Soldier in September. Last week, the Opera Tattler spoke to her by telephone.

How did you get involved with opera?
Purely by the encouragement of others. I was in my high school choral program, and the director pulled me aside, and got me to audition for the Texas All State Choir. I had some piano as a child, but as far as music goes, it was mostly church music around me, or bluegrass, or country, since I'm from Memphis. The choral director gave me sheet music and tapes to listen to, and I sang alto in the Texas All State Choir. Only 300 people are chosen a year. I never even know you could have a job as a singer, but I went to school for music in Baton Rouge, Louisiana because of my music teacher. I did also study music therapy.

So you were a mezzo-soprano? When did you switch?
I sang lyric mezzo rep until I was 26 or 27. I always had a lot of top, a B natural and even a C, so my music teacher had me explore that. I don't know if I ever fully transitioned to a soprano mindset, however.

How are mezzos different from sopranos?
There are fewer lyric mezzo-sopranos than lyric sopranos, so it is a more competitive environment for the latter group.

What are you singing with New Century Chamber Orchestra? How has it been?
They are a great group, very tight-knit, and they play like one instrument. I enjoy coming back to work with them. This concert is Schubert, Bach, and Mendelssohn. I will be singing 4 little tiny songs, Schubert Lieder. They have a lovely arc of poetry to them, dreaming about love but not being fulfilled, or rather fulfilling love through the search for love.

Did you just sing Kurt Weill at San Francisco Ballet?
Yes, it was a blast. I was in the pit, and no one could see me so there was no pressure, I just had to deliver the text. Weill really gets down to brass tacks, his music is bawdy and gutsy.

With the exception of Faust earlier this year in Hawai'i, you have a lot of new music for 2011. What are the challenges of contemporary music?
Thankfully I do learn fast. I sit with the score and listen to recordings of the orchestra, if there are any. I try to get the scope, shape, and bones of the music so I know where I fit in. All the music I am working on this year is tonal, though there are challenges with mixed meter in the Schwartz, the meter can change 3 or 4 times on a page, from 9/8 to 7/8 to 5/8, and so forth. Looking over the Getty, it does seem to be mostly in 4/4 and 3/4. I will have to learn it in the next month, so I will be busy! I do feel really comfortable with the Theofanidis, as we work-shopped it in December, and there haven't been any major changes.

What is your workout regimen?
I work with a trainer, just as I prefer to work with a coach with my singing. It is good for me to be responsible to a person as far as exercise is concerned. It makes me feel ready for the day. Working out has been great for me, I had a year of terrible back pain, so strengthening my core has been key to changing that.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I love to cook, I love the alchemy of it. I also love reading. It makes me sad that there is not enough time in one's life to read all the books worth reading.

I love books too! What are your favorites?
Cormac McCarthy's The Road. To me, it is one of the most beautiful love stories. That might sound strange, given that the awful circumstances of the novel, but the love of the father for the son is incredible. Another favorite of mine is The Handmaid's Tale. You could say I am drawn toward dystopian novels.

Any guilty pleasures you are willing to share?
I enjoy American Idol. It is completely awful, but I watch it every week. When it comes on air I feel chipper!