For the second part of our leading lady-interview series, we’re happy to present our second Lauretta for Gianni Schicchi, Katrin Pöemmerl. If you’re a student at VAM, you would recognize this face – in addition to being a 3rd year Voice Performance Major in our College program, Katrin (affectionately known as Kati) is also a Kodaly teacher and theory tutor. Enjoy the interview below!
What do you enjoy most about singing Lauretta?
I am singing the role of Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and I could not be more thrilled about it. It is the first time I get to sing a main role in a fully staged opera and the entire process for me has been very exciting. I love singing so much! Singing comes from within. Your body is your instrument and for me there is nothing as rewarding as telling a story through singing and touching the audience with your own voice!
Favourite scene from Gianni Schicchi and why?
Ah, there are so many! I love the very beginning, when the relatives are looking for the will. It’s pure chaos; they get to throw papers around on stage, have pillow fights. It is so much fun. I also like when the doctor Spinelloccio comes in and Gianni Schicchi changes his voice and pretends to be Buoso Donati. It is a very fun scene to watch.
What should the audience listen or look for when they come to watch the production?
Notice all the actions in the background during the big crowd scenes. Even if there are 2 or 3 singers in front, every single person on stage has his or her own staging directions. It adds so many layers to the story we are telling in Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. Betto, for example, keeps stealing items around the house in Gianni Schicchi. Notice how he stuffs his pockets with jewelry, money, books and even a candle.
What’s your favourite part of the productions?
It is hard for me to narrow it down to only one part. I think what I love the most is seeing all the different parts that make up the production come together. That first time you get to rehearse with orchestra, in costume, with the proper set is so special for me. It adds a whole new level.
How did you get into opera?
I started singing in choirs when I was in elementary school, but I never thought of studying opera. I had my first operatic voice lesson when I was 20 and I fell in love with it during my first lesson. The more I learned about opera, the stronger I felt about it. And now I can’t get enough of it.
What have you enjoyed the most during your experience at VAM?
Doing opera productions at VAM is more than just a school production. Besides getting very good instruction and direction from the artistic team, you also get shaped as a professional musician. They prepare you for professional engagements because our directors and conductor are themselves industry professionals. Not to mention, VAM is a very encouraging environment and since the opera studio is rather small, you get lots of opportunities to take on roles that challenge you and that help you grow.
Finally, any last words?
This upcoming production of Suor Angelica & Gianni Schicchi is a very good way to give opera a try, if you do not have a lot of experience with it yet. You get both, a drama and a comedy. Very different music, lots of different singers and there is something for everyone. And kids are going to LOVE it! Our stage director is brilliant. She built in so much humour and comedic elements. It’s impossible not to laugh out loud.