Gratitude for Rachel Willis-Sørensen
I’m going to get to the call to action right away. If you are a singer or want to know what the life of a singer with an international career is really like, choose your favorite social media platform and follow Rachel Willis-Sørensen. RachelWillisSorenson on Facebook or Instagram or RWSing on Twitter. You won’t regret it.Vocal Arts Chicago
I’m going to get to the call to action right away. If you are a singer or want to know what the life of a singer with an international career is really like, choose your favorite social media platform and follow Rachel Willis-Sørensen. RachelWillisSorenson on Facebook or Instagram or RWSing on Twitter. You won’t regret it.
Rachel has sung everywhere. Go ahead and look at her website to read about all of the competitions she won and elite contracts she secured as a young artist, followed by all the opera houses — including the Met, Covent Garden, and Deutsche Oper Berlin — where she has triumphed in the Jugendlich-dramatischer Soprano repertoire. That she possesses a truly exceptional instrument and gives breath-taking performances is a given.
I saw the video below just over a year ago and I couldn’t believe my ears. Clocking in at about 150 seconds, “Or sai chi l’onore” is a punishing aria for even the best technicians. Stop reading this and watch that video. I’ll wait.
Yes, you did hear an interpolated high D in the throat-busting phrase that has exposed a weakness in many a Donna Anna at the moment we are being asked to believe in her fury. Who has the nerve to do this!? I had to find out, and, thanks to her excellent publicist, I was able to interview her for Opera Box Score. In the interview, I learned so much about her personality and began to understand how truly unique she is in an arena where impostor syndrome and the pressure of having to being perfect instills anxiety and self-doubt in even the most accomplished artist.
I call her by her first name because, through our short conversation and through her social media, I feel like I know her. She is a kind spirit who seems to have identified all the steps along the way that led her to where she is, and is happy to shine a light on them so that others may have courage, or learn to work harder, or learn to love themselves. This sounds super corny, but I couldn’t be more sincere. Watching Rachel talk into her cell phone camera about auditioning, role preparation, what it’s like to have a fest contract in Germany, or unpacking technical skills like breath support and resonance, is like having an older sister encourage me to keep going and pursue my dreams. NB: I am clearly older than Rachel, and I wish that these videos existed when I was chasing a singing career. These videos are a treasure trove of advice and sometimes are just plain fun, as when Rachel accompanied herself singing Christmas carols last December.
Rachel makes her Lyric Opera debut as Donna Anna tonight. The rest of the cast is pretty impressive: Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni (a happy replacement for the originally announced Ildar Abdrazakov — coincidentally, Meachem also has a highly savvy social media presence), Matthew Rose as Leporello (elegant and lusty in Lyric’s Der Rosenkavalier a few years ago), Amanda Majeski as Elvira (among her generation’s best singing actresses, with a silver tone that brings Lisa della Casa or Gundula Janowitz to mind), and Ben Bliss as Ottavio (an appealing young tenor making his Lyric debut, though some of us have already enjoyed his interpretations of Mozart roles via the Met HD broadcasts). I will be happy to hear the beloved arias and ensembles which showcase each of these singers, but I will probably squeal with delight after Rachel sings the D. Don Giovanni runs through December 8th. The handsome Davide Luciano, who sang Belcore in the HD broadcast of Elixir of Love at the Met in 2018, takes over the role of Giovanni beginning December 3rd.