Girls of Summer
F. PAUL DRISCOLL catches up with KELLY KADUCE, who is set to make her Cincinnati Opera debut this summer as Nedda.
© Dario Acosta 2012
When asked if she has a favorite role, soprano Kelly Kaduce, who makes her Cincinnati Opera debut this summer as Nedda in Pagliacci, pauses a beat before saying, "Ohhhhhh gosh. I know it sounds boring, but it tends to be whatever I am doing at the time. I land headfirst in rehearsal and can't really think about anything else.
"But Nedda is definitely up there at the top of my list, because I get to do that wonderful clown shtick [as Colombina]. When I was in college, I audited an acting class that was on creating a clown character — the final [exam] was 'Clown Wars,' which my team lost. I never thought that that clown stuff would come in handy in opera singing, but here is an opera with a whole scene that is — beginning to end — just clown stuff. I love that scene every time I do Pagliacci!"
The Minnesota native, whose specialties include some of the meatiest roles in the lyric-soprano repertoire — Cio-Cio-San, Mimì, Suor Angelica — says Leoncavallo's Nedda comes with its own particular set of challenges, despite its relative brevity. "Pagliacci is short, but it packs a lot into one act. A lot. It doesn't really feel like verismo to me — maybe it would if I were singing one of the guys' parts. The big aria for Nedda, 'Stridono lassù,' is more like an Italian art song stuck in the middle of the piece — it has a bit of a different tessitura than the rest of the role, because it's a little higher. There are snippets of dramatic singing for Nedda, like the scene with Tonio, but most of Pagliacci is lyric as far as her music is concerned. That duet with Silvio is gorgeous — you can just open up and sing."
Kaduce is married to Texas-born baritone Lee Gregory, whom she met on a Western Opera Theatre tour in 1999, and the singers are parents of a one-year-old son. In two previous productions of Pagliacci, Gregory was Kaduce's Silvio — a situation Kaduce says can be "a little complicated. I love singing with [Lee], because I love him, and I love the way he sings. We've done Figaro and the Countess, Giovanni and Elvira, Schaunard and Mimì. Right now we are doing the Nixons [in Nixon in China] in Eugene, Oregon — although I think we look more like the Kennedys, especially the way we've been costumed!
"But the downside to singing with [my husband] is that when we play lovers onstage — like Nedda and Silvio — people [in the audience] get a glimpse into our personal life, which can make me uncomfortable. So in some ways, for me, it's easier to have a stranger play my love interest, rather than my husband, when there are thousands of people watching us. Nobody sees anything personal that way.
"My husband, Lee, feels the complete opposite. He says that playing a love scene with me makes him much more comfortable. Isn't that funny?"
F. PAUL DRISCOLL