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Rising Stars Fons hdl 1015
This season, Fons sings Cherubino at Canadian Opera Company and Rosina at Pittsburgh Opera.
© Dario Acosta

EMILY FONS is one of the best singing actors of her generation. The mezzo’s characterizations have ranged from a sharp-elbowed, drily witty Rosina at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to an endearingly gawky Cherubino in Santa Fe and a bespectacled, man-hungry Peep-Bo in The Mikado at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she was a member of that company’s Ryan Center. This past summer, the thirty-two-year-old Wisconsin native created the role of the strong-willed, resourceful Ruby in Santa Fe Opera’s world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain. “I felt an affinity to Ruby immediately. She is self-sufficient, proactive, tireless, direct and confident, but not standoffish or harsh. I get to let a lot of myself out when I’m up there embodying her physically and vocally.”

Fons, who counts Hansel and Sesto in Giulio Cesare among her favorite roles to date, cites Lorraine Hunt Lieberson as “my first mezzo love. She really had the gift of drawing people in with her voice.”  Fons offers a surprising answer when asked about her own acting ability: “I don’t think anything can replace the skills gained by just getting up there and doing it. Every audition, every chance to step out onstage, will teach you something about yourself. You just have to be honest and vulnerable enough to accept those lessons, take things in stride, and always strive for improvement. One of the great things about the young-artist programs at the country’s top opera houses is the chance young singers get to watch so many people onstage. You really begin to see what works and what doesn’t.”

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