Soprano Heidi Melton (pictured left, photograph by Kristin Hoebermann) sings Third Norn in Götterdämmerung and Sieglinde in Cycle Three's Die Walküre this summer at San Francisco Opera. She sings Third Norn in the Met's upcoming Ring cycle next year. The Opera Tattler caught up with Melton at the War Memorial before rehearsal a few weeks ago.
When did you first start singing?
When I was about 15 or 16, I wanted to be a soccer player. I didn't make it into the premier league, and I felt absolutely terrible. I locked myself in the bathroom at home and cried, and my sister, she picked the lock and talked some sense into me. She challenged me to find what was next. I started taking singing lessons, and it clicked right away.
What was your first Ring?
My first Ring was the one at Deutsche Oper Berlin by Götz Friedrich. It is from the 80s and set in the DC subway. I sang Third Norn, Helmwige, and Gutrune. For Gutrune, I didn't know I was singing the role until a week before, so it was pretty surreal. They had told me that I should look at the role, and thankfully I'm slightly OCD, so I did have the part memorized. I had about two days of rehearsal.
How do you like Berlin?
It is amazing, there is so much history.
What do you miss about the States?
Let me be honest, I really miss American Diet Coke. It is my biggest vice!
Welcome back! You spent three years here as an Adler. Is there a role that sticks out for you?
The funniest story is when I sang Diane in Iphigénie en Tauride. I had to sing from the second balcony, and I was standing up before I was to come in, watching Maestro Stewart carefully. An audience member was absolutely incensed that I was standing up, and kept hissing "Sit down, you sit down!" Once I started singing it was all fine, but I had to have an usher escort me for the rest of the performances.
You are singing Sieglinde soon. How do you relate to this character?
I've fallen in love with Sieglinde. I think you have to, in order to really do your job. Sieglinde is such a woman, not a girl. You do have to get past the incest, of course, in order to relate to the character. She has a serious case of arrested development. But I admire her cunning, and I feel this really comes out in Francesca Zambello's direction.
How have rehearsals been?
Great! I have been doing all the rehearsals for Die Walküre before Anja Kampe arrives. It is also Brandon Jovanovich's first Siegmund, so doing this together has been very rewarding. The most challenging scene has been the beginning of Götterdämmerung, though it doesn't look hard. We are on a pile of rubble, with the scrim down. We are wearing goggles and they had been fogging up, so it was difficult to see!
I hear your nickname is "Pippi." Why?
That's right! My mother named me "Heidi" because she just liked the book by Johanna Spyri. Once my colleagues heard of this, I got the nickname "Pippi," from the Pippi Longstocking books, of course.