Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Alicia Berneche

An Interview with Alicia Berneche       
[ Sharon in Master Class

Alicia Berneche
Tell us a bit about your character, Sharon.

Sharon is the sleeper Maria Callas. She is a nice person, had a lovely childhood, and has had a fine life so far. None of this has given her grit, the grit one needs to survive a career in opera, especially the top eschelons of the art form. She has a ton of talent, but it is the drive, the guts she needs to succeed. 

What did you do to prepare for the role? Any special study or research of Maria Callas?

I had already studied Maria Callas as a student, reading handfuls of biographies to learn about this amazing and singular singer. She could do more standing still and emoting than anyone. I brushed up a bit, but I needed to come at this as someone who doesn't know her end, only the story to 1971. I also own the actual master classes on CD, so I re-listened to a few of the sessions again. But, as this is the fictionalized version of them, I needed to divorce myself from the real to what McNally dramatized. I also have been singing the Macbeth aria for months to get it in my voice. It is not an aria I would EVER sing in real life (it is for a MUCH heavier voice than mine), so I had to learn a healthy way of singing it in my voice but still sing it in the style and force of someone who would sing it without any doubt, and multiple times a week, no less!

Is there anything fun or interesting about the rehearsals and tech process that you would like to share with readers?
Alicia as Sharon in

It has been really interesting coming from an opera background into a straight theatre. There are slightly different conventions and language that we singers needed to learn, but it is heartening to know that we are all essentially the same in process and frustrations!   

What aspects of the show are you most excited for patrons to see?  What do you hope audiences take away from MASTER CLASS?

McNally has structured such a beautiful show. There are so many perfectly placed musical moments that echo what we are seeing and what we are about to see, so much mirroring of Callas' real life in her advice to the singers. It really explains the life of a singer and how truly singular Callas was to the art form. There are very few people who would truly give everything--their energy, time, money, love, EVERYTHING, for their art. Callas did that. It elevated her, but left her bereft and alone, and killed her in the end.

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