Opera's Next Wave
At the moment, there's hardly a shortage of gifted lyric coloratura sopranos, but even in a field crowded by the likes of Ailyn Pérez, Jennifer Black, Rachele Gilmore and Sarah Coburn, Eglise Gutiérrez stands out. In 2005, the young Cuban–American soprano broke out in a big way internationally when she starred in Wexford Festival Opera's production of Donizetti's rarity Maria di Rohan. She had numerous vocal attributes — tremendous agility, strong command of bel canto style, a distinctive sound and a luminous and engaging stage presence, not unlike that of the young Victoria de los Angeles or Bidú Sayão. All she was really missing was a thrilling, climactic high E-flat — and only a few years later, when she sang Lucia di Lammermoor at Florida Grand Opera, she had that, too.
Gutiérrez's voice has grown steadily and naturally. In 2009, she made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in the title role of another Donizetti antique, Linda di Chamounix, and subsequently returned to that theater for Amina in La Sonnambula and the Fairy Godmother in Massenet's Cendrillon, in a magnificent cast that included Joyce DiDonato, Alice Coote and Ewa Podles´´. Next month, she reprises Amina at Washington Concert Opera.
Gutiérrez is based in Philadelphia, where she studies with Bill Schuman, who teaches at the Academy of Vocal Arts. She admits that her Italian roles come far more easily than her French ones do. "The accents, the vowels — the challenges are tremendous," she says. "I hope I will be singing for a long, long time. I'd love to do some early Verdi. The most important thing is to be healthy vocally. There is so much we have to be aware of now, as singers. We have to learn to relax in front of the camera for the HD broadcasts — the public — we have to learn how to keep hold of ourselves while we're giving everything, being under scrutiny so much of the time. We just have to live with that. It's difficult, but I try."
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