Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.
Sound Bites: Layla Claire
Photographed by Dario Acosta at Boulud Sud, New York, www.danielnyc.com
Makeup and hair by Affan Malik / dress by St. John / jewelry by Ann Ziff Tamsen Z, www.TamsenZ.com
© Dario Acosta 2012
Layla Claire, who is in England this month singing Countess Almaviva with Glyndebourne on Tour, has already amassed an impressive Mozart resumé. She has sung Fiordiligi and Donna Anna at Tanglewood, Susanna at Palm Beach Opera, Donna Elvira and Countess Almaviva at Curtis Opera Theatre and — this past summer — Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera at Aix-en-Provence. Next up, in March 2013, is Claire's first Pamina, at Vancouver Opera. "I'm really excited to do the Countess again, but it's hard to choose a favorite Mozart role — I can't pick, really. I feel really connected to all those girls. I never seem to get tired of Mozart, no matter how much I sing an aria. There's always something interesting and beautiful and human about his music. It feels natural to me. When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I spent a year working with my voice teacher on 'Ridente la calma,' which is this adorable little piece that is seemingly very simple but actually quite difficult. And I never got sick of it. That's when I knew I would always love Mozart, I guess."
A native of Penticton, British Columbia ("about a five-hour drive from Vancouver, way up in the mountains"), Claire received undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Montreal and a second master's degree from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia before entering the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. During the Met's 2011–12 season, her last as a Lindemann artist, Claire showed off the sparkling clarity of her lyric soprano and the bracing energy of her stage presence in a pair of plum assignments — the beleaguered, frantic Helena in The Enchanted Island and the giddy ingenue Giannetta in a starry revival of L'Elisir d'Amore. "That Elisir was an unbelievable experience that I wasn't expecting. It was the last run of the old production — I thought it would be fun to sing Giannetta again, because that was the first opera role I ever did — but it was so, so great. Electrifying. They were all on their game — Juan Diego Flórez and Diana Damrau were amazing, and so were Mariusz Kwiecien and Alessandro Corbelli and everybody else. The best thing about the Met program is that you get to really work with and watch these people — watch them breathe, watch how they rehearse, how they compose themselves. You hear the questions they ask in rehearsals and learn how they get what they need. I learned so much from watching them just in the rehearsal room. And then, of course, watching them onstage every night, watching them manage with the allergies they have that day, or the sleep they didn't have because their baby woke them up — dealing with real-life things, but still delivering incredible performances."
F. PAUL DRISCOLL
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