KS: This is the second role debut that you’ve done with this company. Is that a coincidence, or is this a good place to try out something new?
AC:… I’m thrilled to be coming back to Florentine! …The Florentine is the perfect place to try out a new role. The Milwaukee audience is enthusiastic, and now knows me a bit from two previous seasons. It is always nice to debut a new role with a Maestro and director that you have worked with before. There is trust and real sense of collaboration that is there from the beginning. I had that feeling with [Madama] Butterfly and it proved to be invaluable. I look forward to the same with Merry Widow.
KS: Describe your process of learning and preparing for a role debut.
AC: I like to take my time learning a role. While I actually learn music very quickly, that is different than transforming a role into your voice and body. That takes time. My goal is always to enter into a rehearsal process feeling like the technical and vocal intricacies of the role are second nature, so that when we are staging I can really focus on the drama and physical aspects of the role and not question what my voice is supposed to be doing. So, for me, that means lots and lots of practice and coaching before I arrive for that first day of rehearsal.
KS: You have an album of classic American songs and jazz standards, some of which will be incorporated in to the Arts Bridge concert. Tell me a little more about your inspiration for this project, and the benefits of doing some “crossover” singing between genres.
AC: The inspiration for “Until Now” came after I performed the role of Julie in Showboat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera and other opera houses over the past few years. What became apparent … was that I had another style of vocalism (a jazzy, musical theater and sometimes pop sound) outside of my usual opera/classical, that was just dying to come out more and more. I grew up listening to all different kinds of music – rock, jazz, pop, hip hop, reggae – you name it. So, singing in diverse and non-operatic styles has always been second nature to me. With the growing trend to diversify and no longer feeling the pressure to “stay in one lane” as it were with respect to crafting a career, I finally felt like I had the artistic license to showcase the other parts of my voice and musical interests that had not been heard nor had I showcased on recording “Until Now”, and so the album was born. I love switching back and forth between genres. It’s me, and I think it is, frankly, what I do best. I get to express and show all sides of me, and I love bringing that to audiences and showing them a variety.
KS: What is it about Milwaukee and the Florentine that keeps you coming back?
AC: Everyone at Florentine is simply a joy to work with, from the artistic staff, to wigs and makeup, to the administration, to the marketing department, to the production and stage crew. It is a family, and there is nothing but positivity and enthusiasm for its productions and its singers that inhabit them. Also, I’ve really come to love Milwaukee! It’s such a culturally and artistically rich community… and has a fantastic restaurant scene, which I have really enjoyed exploring! I also love the waterfront. It is my favorite place to walk my dog (who goes with me everywhere), or go for long run!
Alyson Cambridge will debut the role of Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, October 20 and 22, 2017, at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Call 414-291-5700 ext 224 for tickets.
She will also appear as the featured artist at the ArtsBridge concert at the Marcus Center on Friday, October 27. This one-night-only special concert event features Ms. Cambridge and members of the Florentine Opera Chorus singing standards from jazz and the American songbook, along with dancers from the Milwaukee Ballet. Tickets go on sale soon at the Marcus Center Box Office. Call 414-273-7206 for more details.