We recently spoke with Brenda Harris as she rehearsed for her role in Don Giovanni. Ms. Harris shared some thoughts with us on her experiences as an opera singer as we ask her 10 questions.
1. How did your initial interest in the art form of opera begin?
Brenda: I was introduced to opera while in college and I went with friends many times to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Before my senior year, I was accepted into the chorus of Opera Theatre of St. Louis (just about 40 miles from my parents’ pig farm) and I was hooked the first day of rehearsal! It’s also the day I met my husband!
2. Where did you grow up?
Brenda: New Douglas, IL…about 35 miles across the Mississippi river from St. Louis. There are only 400 people in the town so that’s really the only way to explain where it is!
3. Do you have a significant other?
Brenda: I have a handsome, brilliant, musical, sensitive, PERFECT husband who also happens to be my voice teacher!
4. What is an average day like for you? Do you have a set routine?
Brenda: I generally do yoga stretching and/or take a walk in the woods or at the beach. Then, tasking, tasking, tasking. Bank, store, errands, cooking, home improvement duties and somewhere in there, maybe a little music!
5. What is your favorite opera to watch/experience?
Brenda: Whatever one I’m currently in!
6. Have you performed your role in Don Giovanni before?
Brenda: I really wouldn’t know where to begin! I’ve been in 23 productions of Don Giovanni. My very first role (in school) was Zerlina. Since then, I have sang many, many Donna Annas and also some Donna Elviras!
7. What language(s) do you speak fluently?
Brenda: None. But, I can get around in France, Italy and Germany.
8. What facts about you would our audiences be surprised to learn?
Brenda: I’m a homebody. HATE to travel. I also hate learning music.
9. Name the opera role you haven’t performed, but would like to perform the most in your career?
Brenda: Arabella in Arabella, Leonora in Fidelio and pretty much ANY Verdi that I’ve missed so far… La Forza del Destino, Il trovatore, Attila…
10. If you bumped into me at a coffee shop and learned that I had never been to an opera before, what would you say to entice me to give it a try?
Brenda: Go online and search YouTube for ANYthing with Maria Callas or George London or Leonie Rysanak or Birgit Nilsson or pretty much anyone from the 50s through the 70s. You’ll be hooked! Then, come see it LIVE!