In between rehearsals, intensive tech training, and avatar transfigurations, cast members Carami Hilaire (Alice) and Eve Gigliotti (Mrs. Lee, her mother) took a little time to share a bit about themselves and their experience making Alice during this very strange year.
What made you want to be an opera singer?
Carami Hilaire: I haven’t always loved the spotlight. When I was just a lass, my first performance was reading a poem for my mom’s friends and I was horrified. I really wanted to read the poem, I wanted to be in the spotlight, but I was really scared of taking up that space and having people pay attention to me. Obviously, as the years have gone by, I have learned to enjoy the spotlight and I’m really thankful any time that I get to be in it.
Eve Gigliotti: I wanted to be an actress and musical theater performer! didn’t know about opera until I went to college, but my voice was always my identifier. I was clueless about classical music and it took a while for me to find my way in. With a lot of work and a little luck, to my surprise, I ended up cultivating that love of singing into a career in opera. But hey, with all these new formats, I am still having my moment on the big (and little) screen!
How do you relate to your character in Alice?
CH: Although Alice is a nurse and I’m a singer, we have all been cast into unprecedented times and we’ve had to just do the very best that we can with the resources that we’ve been given.
EG: I’m a mother and a daughter, and I appreciate how complicated and formative these precious relationships can be. In these precarious times, so much devastation can happen in a moment — it magnifies how fragile life is and gives time an even deeper and more urgent meaning.
The production of Alice is entirely digital. How has working in this format been for you?
CH: It’s been fun and interesting. It’s occupied me during some unprecedented times in human history but to say that it’s simple would be inaccurate. It’s definitely a test! Whereas all I had to know how to do in the past was come to rehearsal prepared with my music, now not only do I have to do that, I have to handle my computer so everything is really smooth, set up my own mic before every performance, know how to make my Zoom application work best. These are things that usually the singer never takes on, but in these times, I’m figuring out.
EG: Oof! It’s been hard. Fortunately, everyone on the team has been nothing but kind, supportive, and patient. I am so grateful! And I recognize that in order to innovate and adapt, one must go through feeling uncomfortable, taking that long ride around the learning curve, and sticking with it. I think these explorations hold great promise for how we can continue to build our art form in tandem to the more traditional iterations. It’s an inevitable evolution. I am very excited to see how the audience receives our storytelling.
Which performers are inspiring you right now?
CH: My favorite musician right now, who I’ve been thinking about a lot these days, is actually Maria Callas. The time she lived through was really fraught with a lot of unprecedented moments in our history as a people. She went through the Great Depression, she went through World War II, and then she was in living in Greece when Greece had a Civil War. So she went through a lot and persevered through it- actually changed the world with her music.
EG: Anthony Roth Costanzo remains a constant beacon of inspiration. I am in awe of his intellect, his energy, his creativity, his generosity as a colleague, and his entrepreneurial spirit — as well as his ability to move you with his artistry and beautiful singing. Also, Karen Slack, whom I’ve known for over twenty years now. We came up through school together and I have witnessed her incredibly artistry, generosity, and talent grow and bloom over the years. She is a constant supporter and cultivator of good energy. And what she’s accomplished in her KikiKonversations has really been a breath of fresh air as far as gaining perspective and understanding the depth of talent in our field. She really lifts people up.
Get your tickets now for Alice in the Pandemic, October 23-27!