Soprano Rachel Jeanne Hall holds her MM in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music and begins the 2011-2012 season covering the role of Lisette in Puccini’s La Rondine at the Opera Company of Middlebury in Vermont before beginning a nine month engagement as a young artist at Louisiana’s Shreveport Opera.
Jacob Paul: What was your initial reaction when receiving the news that you had been hired for Shreveport Opera’s upcoming season?
Rachel Hall: I was so overwhelmed; it was a mixture of wanting to cry, wanting to scream and just jump up and down with joy because all my hard work had finally paid off.
JP: Indeed. What are you most looking forward to in Louisiana? Any fears?
RH: I’m really looking forward to singing with a real company for more than just a month, eating the Cajun cuisine and being around new people. While I’m excited, I’m definitely going to miss New York because there is just something about this city that inspires you to be creative and continually reinvent yourself. I’m going to miss that.
JP: Any news on role assignments?
RH: I haven’t gotten my official contract yet, but there are discussions concerning the roles of Valencienne in Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” and possibly a supporting role in Carmen.
JP: This summer you’ll be covering your friend soprano Bevin Hill singing the role of Lisette at Middlebury; how did it feel to know you would be working alongside her for your first professional assignment?
RH: I’m so excited that I’m going to be working with Bevin because she is incredibly creative and always surprises me with her brilliant acting choices. For example, while at MSM together, we took Catherine Malfitano’s class”Revealing The Singer/ Actor Within”, and one of our assignments was to sing an aria while wearing masks we made ourselves. Bevin made the most hideous and creepy “Where The Wild Things Are” type mask and sang Quando m’en vo while wearing this… animal! The way that she owned, and even flaunted the ugliness and vulnerability of this… new, warped Musetta, was strangely touching- I’ll never forget that. I am so excited to see what she brings to Lisette this summer.
JP: You mentioned Catherine Malfitano’s class at MSM, but you’re also studying with the famous singer-actress…
RH: Yes I am; I’ve been studying with Catherine for almost two years, and what she has taught me about technique, musicality and becoming your character and living in the moment has allowed me to realize my true potential as an all-around performer as opposed to just being another singer.
JP: I’ve definitely seen you in variety of roles over the past three years…
RH: (referencing her Annabelle Lee in “Gargoyle Garden” by B. Allen Schultz) Haha yup! Playing the Goth Victorian orphaned girlfriend of a young “Edgar Allen” who was obsessed with bugs was definitely a fun acting challenge.
JP: We can’t forget your pink pigtails.
RH: Definitely my favorite wig I’ve been given!
JP: How do you feel your training at the Manhattan School of Music prepared you for the performance world?
RH: I am so thankful that I found my amazing teacher Catherine, but I was also able to work with a lot of really fantastic teachers and coaches including Warren Jones, Ken Merrill, Tom Muraco, Dona D. Vaughan and my first teacher there, Maitland Peters. Coming from a small liberal arts college from the mountains of North Carolina, the whole New York experience was quite an exciting and welcome change. I will say that the intense competition and large class size (referring to the 95 masters students pursuing voice degrees in her year) and overall talent of my classmates really lit a fire under me to get to work. I realized that some things you just can’t learn in school… you’ve got to be proactive and decide to go big or go home.