Nadine Sierra’s childhood intuition – that she was born to sing opera – proved correct in every way and is reflected in the title of her second solo album, Made for Opera, out today. today on Deutsche Grammophon. The dramatic presence, searing passion and technical brilliance for which the American operatic soprano regularly earns rave reviews are captured in this new album, which shines the spotlight on three of the most demanding roles in the repertoire – Violetta by Verdi, Lucia by Donizetti and Juliette de Gounod.
Recorded with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai and Capella Cracoviensis under the direction of Riccardo Frizza, the album not only reflects Nadine Sierra’s mastery of bel canto technique and rich vocal color range, but also documents her insights into the psychology of the poorly starred heroines of La traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor and Romeo and Juliet.
Violetta, Lucia and Juliette are devastated by the social conventions of their time and the impossibility of choosing their own destiny. This has personal resonance for Sierra, whose grandmother was a talented singer, but her family prevented her from pursuing a professional career as an opera singer. Like most women of her background and generation, she was expected to be a respectable housewife and nothing more.
The soprano pays tribute to her mother for remembering the sacrifices her own mother had been forced to make and thus giving her all the support she needed in her artistic journey.
“What was impossible for my grandmother was made possible for me. It’s a journey that allowed me to be seen, to be heard, and to craft my artistic aspirations for an even greater purpose than this. that I have already attained – conveying the courage that As a woman of modern times, I can give the greatest strength to any young woman who wishes to reach the highest star, “says Sierra. “I would like to believe that sharing my family history will inspire others. And that it can help them fulfill their destiny and realize that they too can be ‘made for’ anything.”
Her new album opens with Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry wondering if she should choose love for the romantic Alfredo Germont over her cherished freedom. The role gains depth and texture as the opera unfolds, and Sierra captures every nuance of Verdi’s vocal writing. Her chosen sequence of arias ends with the heartbreaking “Addio, del passato bei sogni ridenti” of the dying Violetta, in which she bids farewell to her past dreams and laments Alfredo’s absence.
Sierra’s sensational portrayal of Lucia ranges from the innocence of a young girl in love, so haunted by a past murder (“Ancor non giunse… Quando, rapito in estasi”), to rapture, despair and the confusion of the famous “fou scene” from the last act of Donizetti’s opera: “Oh, giusto cielo! … Il dolce suono”. The soprano’s recent interpretation of the role at the Liceu in Barcelona has been praised by critics , Seen and Heard International summarizing it as “an indisputable triumph”.
The third heroine of the album, Juliette, is the victim of the quarrel between her family and that of her lover, Romeo. Gounod’s five-act opera, based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, includes the waltz song ‘I Want to Live’, one of the great defining arias for coloratura soprano, and the emotionally complex ‘Love, Rekindle My Courage’ . a varied talent for this demanding role, with complex vocal fireworks in the former, passion and drama in the latter.
“Those three roles pose great challenges to the voice,” she explains, “but those challenges are there to bring every woman to life. I think their stories resonate with listeners today just as much and maybe even more today than when they were new to the scene more than 150 years ago.”
The making of this album also owes a lot to three real inspiring women: Teresa Stratas and Renata Scotto, the stars of the very first production she saw at the age of ten – Zeffirelli’s La Bohème – on a video that her mother had borrowed from their local library, and Marilyn Horne, who became her mentor a few years later. “I learned from these exceptional women,” Sierra recalls, “that I needed all it took – dedication, hardship, sacrifice, perseverance, patience and pure devotion – to be “made for opera”.
Nadine Sierra is set to play Lucia in three Lucia di Lammermoor productions this season. His run in the role began on January 15, 2022 with the first of six performances at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. She travels to the Bayerische Staatsoper in March for the final revival of Barbara Wysocka’s critically acclaimed production, before heading to New York in April to star in the brand new staging of Donizetti’s masterpiece by Australian theater and film director Simon Stone.