Meet the cast and creative teams behind Opera Holland Park’s 2022 season. Over the coming weeks, we’ll introduce our singers, directors, conductors and crews at the heart of the productions this summer.
Today we are speaking to Soprano, Anne Sophie Duprels. Anne Sophie made her UK debut with Opera Holland Park and performed recently as Amelia in Un ballo in maschera.
Hello Anne Sophie! We can’t wait to see you in our double bill of Margot La Rouge and Le Villi this season. Could you introduce us to your roles?
This year it’s two roles! Lucky me! In this very exciting double bill, I’m singing the title role in Margot la Rouge by Delius and Anna in Le Villi by Puccini. Both operas were written for the composition competition organised by the Italian editor Sonzogno, and both operas didn’t win the competition!
I just want to explain a bit about Delius’s influences to explain the connection between the two characters I’m singing: Delius had a great fascination for Wagner and his first operas are certainly influenced by Wagner’s style, but Margot is closer to Mascagni’s style (Cavalleria rusticana had won the Sonzogno competition in 1888). But more than actual verismo, it’s the influence of French naturalism that is really present in Margot. The libretto written by Berthe Kahn-Danville is Zola in a nutshell: you find anarchist themes and fights for working class and women’s rights.
Margot herself is like Louise Michel, who was called the Red Virgin, an anarchist activist, emblematic figure of the Commune de Paris and a feminist. She went as far as saying that marriage was legalised prostitution. One interesting thing is that Margot is the only character to have a musical leitmotif, making her the centre of the story. And, an interesting anecdote , Maurice Ravel wrote the piano reduction!
Regarding the character of Anna in Le Villi, you see a shy girl transformed into an angel of vengeance. It’s a different journey (she does die before killing!) but they are both murderesses. Oppression and liberation. It’s a very strong message. Death and violence seem to be the only escape for both Anna and Margot.
What aspects of your role are you most excited about?
I’m really looking forward to discovering where Martin Lloyd-Evans is going to take us. It’s interesting to play characters who are not just victims. They take matters in their own hands and that’s particularly interesting for female characters in operas written in 1884 and 1901.
Do you have a favourite OHP Memory?
I have so many wonderful memories at OHP! Impossible to keep only one…. But what I can say is that the feeling you have at the first day of rehearsal, the meet-and-greet before we start working is something very special. Getting all together, this feeling of belonging to a big family, the energy, the anticipation of creating a new show: this is just amazing.
Who is your musical role model?
A world famous cellist was once asked why, at the age of 90, he was still working on his technique everyday. He replied: ‘because I think I’m making progress’.
Was there any music that got you through lockdown? What was it and how did it help you?
I actually found it difficult at first to listen to music. I needed a lot of silence when the first lockdown happened. Then I listened to a lot of chamber music. Gregorian chant was also very helpful. I think I needed to find peace and find my way to being creative again in this new equation. We have to adapt and the challenges we face are an opportunity to grow, that’s how I try, in my humble way.
What are you looking forward to this OHP season?
Seeing my OHP family and being on that amazing stage – working and creating! I was last at OHP in 2019 for Un ballo in maschera and I can’t wait to be back. The festival has a very special place in my life and heart. I feel very grateful to have James Clutton’s trust and be invited back regularly since 2001 when I first sang here. And, of course, the challenge of singing two operas in one evening is one I couldn’t resist!
If you could perform any role, what would it be?
It’s impossible to keep only one! I have roles I would love to sing, like Emilia Marty (The Makropulos), Fedora, Stephana (Siberia) ….I love verismo! There is so much repertoire that is not performed. So each time I get the opportunity to perform underrated or forgotten pieces I’m a happy soprano!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received, musical or otherwise?
Your emotions are your tools (Olivia Fuchs)