Rising star Avery Amereau on contralto rep, advice for young singers, and Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”

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Rising star Avery Amereau lends her lush contralto voice in the role of Olga in the Santa Fe Opera’s new production of Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin’s story of rakes and romantic mistakes set to glorious music by Tchaikovsky.

While this marks the singer’s Santa Fe Opera debut, Avery is well acquainted with Olga and New Mexico’s great chile debate. Host Jane Trembley chats with her about the perks of possessing an authentic contralto voice, the singer’s less than traditional introduction to opera, and a favorite (shocking!) memory from her Metropolitan Opera debut.

Avery also shares wise words with novice singers about staying true to one’s voice and recommends thematic elements audiences should note while attending this sumptuous opera.

“There's an idea that contralto roles are usually, like, old ladies or nurses,” Avery laughs. Contraltos - singers whose vocal range is the lowest female voice type - are often cast as evil sisters or, as Avery likes to say, the witches and britches of the opera world. She sees teenage Olga as a bit of a flirt, a social butterfly - characteristics that will require a fresh perspective from Avery when the two meet again.

“It'll be a bit more challenging in that way than when I was at Julliard because I've lived so much more life since then,” she says, including becoming a new mother. In addition to heralding the singer’s debut with the Santa Fe Opera, Eugene Onegin also marks Avery’s return to performances after the pandemic. “I think it's very fitting to come back to this role,” she says. “It has a very special significance for me.”

Last seen at the Santa Fe Opera in 2002, Eugene Onegin allows audiences to experience Avery’s vibrant contralto in Russian. The feat required her to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and make sense of consonant clusters and diphthong pronunciations not found in standard American English. Tchaikovsky’s soaring score is worth the effort, though.

“It's a good mix,” Avery says of Olga. “I have a duet; I have an aria; I have a quartet; I have an ensemble. So, I get a nice smattering of everything possible.” Audiences will, too.

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Destination Santa Fe Opera is a Santa Fe Opera podcast, produced and edited by Andrea Klunder at The Creative Impostor Studios.

Mixed by: Edwin R. Ruiz

Hosted by: Jane Trembley

Featuring:

Avery Amereau, American Contralto

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