CONVERSATION  PIECE:

SOPRANO  GIANNA  ROLANDI


By Bruce Duffie


rolandi


It’s the 90’s, and musicians are managing to cope with family life better than ever before.  That includes children – having them at all, when to “schedule” them, and what do with them as they grow.  Backstage at the world’s opera houses, it’s not uncommon to find artists with a retinue.  Years ago that would mean agents, secretaries and hangers-on.  These days, it’s a spouse, children and nanny.

A very special case is that of the American soprano Gianna Rolandi because the spouse is the English conductor Andrew Davis.  They have appeared both separately and together in opera and concert all over the world, however Chicago holds special memories for their family.  Several years ago, when Gianna was about to give birth to their son (in South Carolina), Andrew was conducting at Lyric Opera and had to fly back and forth.  When a cesarean delivery was decided, it was scheduled between performances so they could be together!

Anyway, in 1993, all three (plus nanny) were back in Chicago for Mozart’s Così, and I had the opportunity to chat with the two musicians in separate but equal interviews.  Here is what was said by the soprano, and as you will see, it was a time of transition for her…


Bruce Duffie:  Do you like being a wandering minstrel?

Gianna Rolandi:  Yes, but I must say I liked it better when I wasn’t wandering with a four-year old.  It was a little easier then, but it’s still great fun.

BD:  I assume you’re preparing for when the child enters school and won’t be able to wander with you any more.

GR:  We keep saying we’re not going to think about it, but we’ve had to think about it.  We live in England and we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve found a school about 20 minutes from us.  It’s a boarding school that also takes day students, so when we have to go away for any length of time, he can stay there without being a real boarder.

BD:  Is it a burden for you as an American being transplanted to England for most of your life?

GR:  It’s not a burden, but it makes for some pretty interesting situations.  Sometimes you wouldn’t think we speak the same language at all, and I have to ask Andrew what people are talking about.  I’ve been there five years now, so I’m pretty used to the different accents – as I say that with a southern-American accent… Where we spend most of our time is in the country, in Sussex, which is down in the Southern part of England, and there’s a very thick country accent that took me forever to understand what people were talking about.  But they can’t understand me either…

BD:  Put little supertitles over your head!

GR:  Yes.

BD:  Do you find that audiences appreciate opera differently in England and America?

GR:  No, I think it’s pretty universal the way people understand it – or at least respond to it.  In some countries they’ll whistle, and in other countries that’s an insult.  But usually if people like it, they’ll all respond the same way, and if they don’t, they’ll respond the same way!

BD:  Hopefully those occasions when they don
’t are few and far between.  When you sing in different houses, do you adjust your vocal technique for small ones like Glyndebourne, and big ones like Chicago?

GR:  No, not really.  I always use the same voice.  If you use your voice on a scale from 1 to 10, you won’t have to use 10 at Glyndebourne, whereas you’ll use at least 9 in Chicago.  You never use 10.  But you won’t do anything different except not use quite as much of it in the smaller places.

BD:  Do the acting and the gestures have to be much larger here?

GR:  That is definitely true.  In Glyndebourne, or some of the European houses that are small, you can do a lot more by raising an eyebrow or with facial expressions.  You do those same things in a big house, but they have to be accompanied with a bit shrug of the shoulders.  It’s different, but you just sort of automatically adjust.

BD:  Do you like working with the supertitles in the theater?

GR:  I love them.  When they first came out, I thought they were tacky and horrible, but when I did Marriage of Figaro with them, what a difference!  The audiences got everything and laughed all the time.  Sometimes they laughed before we sang the line because they’d read it, but I think the whole thing is terrific.  I even enjoy looking at them when I attend performances as part of the audience.  When I saw Jenůfa by Janáček, I knew exactly what was going on even though I don’t speak any Czech.  I really liked it.

BD:  Will the use of supertitles mean the death of opera-in-translation?

GR:  I hope so!  I hate to sing in English, and I don’t know too many people who do like performing in it.  It’s much easier to sing in Italian or French.

BD:  More vowels?

GR:  Yeah.  Our vowel sounds are so spread and have a funny, nasal sound.  But there’ll always be opera-in-English, especially in the smaller houses in the US.  It’s kind of expensive to have supertitles.

BD:  What about operas which are written in English – should they also have titles?

GR:  That’s kind of an insult to the singers, but no matter how clearly you enunciate, when there’s an entire orchestra playing and you sing up high, there’s no way you can understand all the words being sung.  This is true in the original language, so it must be really annoying when it’s translated and you can’t understand those words.

BD:  Do you work harder at your diction when you’re singing an Italian opera in Italy, knowing that the audience will understand the words?

GR:  The first Italian I sang was to Pavarotti, and I was suddenly aware that I was singing the Italian language to a real Italian, and not just any Italian at that.  But I got over that real quickly.  You have to learn it and do it, and you do it the same way all the time.  Hopefully you’ve learned it well enough that it works.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   You have a wide range of roles available to your voice.  How do you decide which parts you’ll learn and which you’ll put off for another season – or for many seasons?

GR:  That’s a very interesting question, especially at this point in my life.  Up until the last couple of years, I sang coloratura parts like Zerbinetta and Lucia and Olympia
– all the bird-parts.  About five years ago, my voice started getting a little heavier.  Then Andrew and I got married and I had our son, and I didn’t sing for about a year.  I thought it would be nice to get to know the baby… But when I started to sing again, I had a completely different voice.  It had gotten much bigger and much heavier, and was a little lower.

BD:  Was this just you aging a little, or was it the physiognomy of having the child?

GR:  It was a combination, I think.  Everybody’s voice matures and gets a little darker and a little fuller as they get older, but this was really a huge difference.  I didn’t sing for a while and went back and re-studied.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that people with big voices don’t sing the same as people with bird-voices.  It’s a lot harder!  So now I have an entirely new range of repertoire to look at, and for me that’s very exciting.  From doing all those little silly people and now being able to sing Leonora in Trovatore, or Tosca, it’s wonderful.  I did my first Ariadne last spring, which is a huge difference from doing Zerbinetta.  It’s been like a new life.

BD:  Did you ever sing the wrong line in an ensemble passage?

GR:  No, but whenever I heard one of her cues, I’d involuntarily jerk before realizing that was her and not me.

BD:  So you’re not the right voice for Zerbinetta any more?

GR:  Right.  I’m not that high any more, and it would sound very strange to hear my sized voice singing it.

BD:  Do you work harder at your new characters because they are deeper?

GR:  That’s very interesting.  Some of those old bel canto roles are not flighty characters even though the music can sound that way, so it’s not that much different.  The only real change is that I feel they’re adults and I used to sing young people.  They’re a little more mature.  It’s hard to describe.

BD:  It seems that the younger and higher characters are more victims, and these which you are learning are more in control of their fate.

GR:  Yes, they’re usually stronger characters, but they get victimized, too.  They’re getting bumped off, but there aren’t as many “mad” scenes.  It used to be that everybody I sang went crazy.

BD:  Thinking about them for one more moment, is it difficult now, in the mid-1990’s, to bring these women to the audiences of stronger, more independent women (and men) who have probably spent the day at the office?

GR:  I always found Gilda difficult to do because I thought she was such a wimp.  Even though she does things that are totally stupid and you can’t imagine why any woman would do that, she finds strength in herself to do what she thinks is right.  So even if you disagree, that’s what the score says and you have to find reasons for motivation.  In Così, the theme is not one that is in many women’s hearts these days.  But it wasn’t written today; it was written 200 years ago.

BD:  Will you now shift roles in that opera?

GR:  Despina is my role, and one that almost anyone can do – coloraturas to mezzos.  But I’m not sure that Mozart ladies are going to be right for me any more.  I’m going toward Verdi and Puccini.

BD:  Is there a secret to singing Mozart?

GR:  Do exactly what’s in the music.  He gives you everything, and if you do what it says and listen to the orchestra, you can’t go wrong.  Well, maybe you can, but it depends on who’s conducting.  So as long as Andrew’s in the pit, you can’t go wrong!

BD:  Is it particularly satisfying or a bit nerve-wracking to have your husband down there waving the stick?

GR:  We first met when working together at the Met in Ariadne, and we didn’t get along too well.  I didn’t particularly like his tempos and I don’t think he particularly liked me.  When we re-met years later, I think we had forgotten we’d worked together.  I get very nervous working with him in a concert situation.  I’m more comfortable in the opera house anyway, and I’ve never really enjoyed concerts.  Maybe that’s because I have to be myself.  I like being other people.  But I’m very aware of Andrew when he standing right next to me, and I’m always worried that I’m going to do something to embarrass him.  That’s totally ridiculous, but…

BD:  You can’t divorce your personal life from the professional side?

GR:  We certainly can in opera.  I don’t seem to think about it there at all.  I’m really nervous if the concert is with his orchestra – the BBC Orchestra.  I don’t want people to think he’s just giving his wife a chance to sing.

BD:  Does he only schedule you once every couple of seasons, then?      
 
GR:  If that often.  To tell you the truth, I think he’d schedule me more, but I’m so worried – not so much for me, but people might think that he’s so henpecked that he’s got to hire his wife.

BD:  [A bit slyly]  But woe to him when he hires another soprano?

GR:  [Matter-of-factly]  Oh, no.  He hires sopranos all the time.  Actually he does do a lot of things that just use a mezzo or a tenor!

BD:  When you do work together, do you bring any of that home, or do you make sure it all stays in the theater?

GR:  It pretty much stays in the theater, but we do talk about things.  In rehearsals, he doesn’t really give me notes, but we talk about it as we walk home.  I rely in his ear for the way I’m singing because he was a great ear for voices.

BD:  Without mentioning names, are there other conductors who have an ear for voices?

GR:  Oh, sure.  Some just like voices better than others.

BD:  Do you try to work with Andrew as much as possible, or do you avoid it on purpose most of the time?

GR:  Well, I haven’t been singing as much lately because of the child and the voice change, but we manage to be in the same part of the world whenever possible.  He will try to come to my performances, and I’ll go to his concerts – or since he’s on the BBC so much, I’ll hear him on the radio.

BD:  Does your child know it’s Daddy on the air?

GR:  He hears the name, but he doesn’t really understand it’s Daddy on the radio.  He really enjoys seeing Andrew on TV.  We took the boy to a rehearsal here a few days ago, and he did quite well.  I’m sure that he didn’t understand what I was doing up there…

BD:  Of course it’s Così and you come to no harm.  What will happen the first time he sees you get murdered onstage?

GR:  Well, my mother was a singer and was singing in Italy when she met my father.  She didn’t sing much after they were married, just some local things when I was growing up in the Carolinas.  But the first time my brother (who was five at the time) saw her sing Nedda in Pagliacci, it was a rehearsal, and he ran down to the pit screaming, “He killed my Mama!  Mama!  Mama!”  He’s never been a big opera fan since then…  So I’ll keep my son away from the heavier ones until much later on.

BD:  Now that you have a child and are teaching him about life as well as music, do you have more empathy for other families with children, and how they can introduce the next generation to opera?

GR:  That’s a tough one.  I’ve always wanted children to come.  When I was growing up in Charlotte, they had a Saturday matinee that was all children.  It was a great thing and I saw tons of operas.  That way, the kids weren’t at the regular performances where you didn’t want noise.  But if they don’t come, they don’t learn concert etiquette.  In Chicago, they do that with the student performances, but they are a bit older.

BD:  Yes, they’re generally in high school.

GR:  We took our son to a few orchestra rehearsals, and last year he sat through Act II of Bohème.  He did real well, and I figured that would be a good one for his first time because it’s short and there is so much going on.  I’m not sure he understood it was me as Musetta.  Whenever he hears anyone on the radio, he says, “That’s Mama!”  It could be a tenor and it’s Mama.

BD:  At least he likes you.

GR:  If I sing at home and he’s in the room, he says, “No, no.  It hurted my ears!”  I’ll have to sing at level 2 instead of level 9.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:  When you’re learning a character, how much can you bring to it and how much is going to be the stage director’s idea?

GR:  It’s hard to remember when you’ve done most of these roles so many times.  Most of us have definite ideas of what we want and what the words mean to us; then you get there and if it’s a good director, he’ll bring out the best.  So, most productions turn out to be a good collaboration.  It’s nice to have a long rehearsal period so you can get all the screaming and fighting out of the way.  That’s what was so nice about this Così – we’d all done this production and we were all great friends, so it was fun from the beginning to the end.  Our only worry was that we’d laugh during the performance because we were having so much fun with it.

BD:  Perhaps not in this production but in others, how do you keep it fresh in the third or sixth or tenth performance?

GR:  Well, you just have to.  Each performance is different, and you feel different.  That’s one thing about being a singer as opposed to being a pianist or instrumentalist.  It’s your body and it’s how your body responds, and every day you get up and you feel different.  This hurts or that hurts, or you feel stiff; you never feel exactly the same as you did the last time going into a performance.  Maybe a tempo will be a little different and that keeps you on your toes.

rolandiBD:  Might conductors alter things just for that reason?

GR:  Not necessarily on purpose, but it happens.

BD:  We’re used to opera in the theater.  Does opera work well on television?

GR:  I’ve done some things on television, so I do like to see them.  It depends.  I don’t like things that are staged for the cameras.  I like to see live performances televised.  In the studio, they play a recording and everyone mouths the music and text.  I don’t like that, but I do like live performances especially where they use subtitles.  I think that’s opened up opera to a lot of people.

BD:  You think that helps to drag people into the theater?

GR:  People have told me that.  They enjoyed something on TV, so they went to “check it out” at the opera house.  That plus the phenomenon of Pavarotti and Domingo has been fantastic.  During the world cup (in Europe), “Nessun Dorma” sung by Pavarotti was at the top of the charts.  All those football (soccer) hooligans knew this aria, and that’s terrific.

BD:  So you feel that opera is for everyone?

GR:   It could be.  I really think it’s how you’re exposed to it.  If you’re growing up in a house where the parents don’t care about it, and you don’t have a teacher who’s interested and shows you about it, you’ll think opera is just fat people screaming at the top of their lungs.

BD:  How can we get more people to realize that it’s not so bad?

GR:  I think we’re doing the right things and about all we can do.  I don’t know what else can be done.  Television is the greatest thing for it.

BD:  Do you like doing new works?    

GR:  I enjoyed doing Ashmedai by Joseph Tal, and an Argento work called Miss Havisham’s Fire.  That was written for Beverly Sills, but when she retired, Rita Shane and I split the role.  The character ages and I did the young portion and she did the older.  It took two of us to replace Beverly!

BD:  What advice do you have for composers who want to write for voices in general, or your voice in particular?

GR:  Make the vocal part singable so you can make a line.  Andrew will die when he sees this because he loves contemporary music, but I don’t like pieces that are all over the place.  I don’t think it’s real healthy for anybody’s voice to do those kinds of things.  The old guys had it right – a nice line.  That’s what feels good to sing and that’s when it sounds the best.  Look at Broadway or London’s West End.  You can come out humming the tunes.  That’s where the real creativity is going
in music theater.

BD:  Have you done outdoor concerts?

GR:  [Reluctantly]  Yeah.  They have to be miked so much and they’re never quite as much fun, and there are always bugs flying around and you’re afraid you’re going to swallow one, and it’s usually so hot…

BD:  Sounds ghastly!  Do you avoid them as much as possible?

GR:  Yes.

BD:  Well, how much in your career are you able to pick and choose what you’re going to do?

GR:  More and more as I go along.  When you first start out, you have to do pretty much what is offered – unless it’s totally wrong for your voice.  As you get older, you have different priorities.  Andrew and I like to be together as a family, so that enters into our decision now.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:  When you’re doing a role and you walk onstage, are you portraying the character, or do you become that character?

GR:  I think I’m portraying a character.  If I were to become that character, I wouldn’t be able to sing.  Despina doesn’t know much about vocal technique, so Rolandi’s still got to be in there to sing!   There has to be a little bit of yourself in all your people.  When you watch Meryl Streep, no matter how incredible she is and how many unbelievable accents she does because she’s so fabulous, you know it’s always her doing these people – which I think is the way it should be.  She’s one of my favorite actresses.

BD:  Then is there anything you can take from her when you are onstage?

GR:  Just her intensity and commitment.  We’d all like to have those, I think.

BD:  Since you’re a very beautiful woman, would you let a stage director talk you into doing a nude scene?

GR:  Good heavens, no.  Not at all.  I don’t know that it’s really necessary.  As far as I’m concerned, everything you need is in the score.  Aside from Salome, I don’t know of any place where it’s required that you take your clothes off.  I’m not against it, but it’s something I wouldn’t be very comfortable with.

BD:  You’re learning new roles.  Do you know how long it takes to get a part into your voice and into your psyche before you can perform it?

GR:  It takes a few months, and with my voice being heavier than it was, it takes a little longer than it used to.  I used to be able to learn something in a few days and it would just be there.  Now I have to really work it in.

BD:  Are you reluctantly leaving some of these roles behind?

GR:  When I first realized that it wasn’t just that I had not slept well and that I really wasn’t going to sing those roles any more, I wasn’t particularly happy about it.  I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  I did love that repertoire and enjoyed doing it – and had had a certain amount of success with it.  Now I look at it as a second life.  There’s much more that I can do, and if I had just stayed where I was I’d never have been able to do Puccini and some of these wonderful Verdi things.  It’s very exciting, but I had to really come to terms with it and say goodbye to some of those roles.

BD:  Did you say goodbye all at once, or did they just drift slowly away?

GR:  Pretty much all at once.  I sat down and watched some things I’d done on PBS and said to myself it’s not me anymore, they will be somebody else.

BD:  You’re already coming back to a few of these new roles.  Is that a good feeling?

GR:  It’s like putting on a nice comfortable shoe, but I’m really enjoying learning all the new repertoire.  It never entered my head that I’d be able to sing some of these things.  When I first got interested in opera, my favorites were Tosca, Aïda and all these kinds of things.  I never thought I’d actually do them, and it took me a year before I could say, “I am studying Tosca” without laughing.  I couldn’t get over it.

BD:  Have you done her yet?

GR:  Not yet, but I will.  I’ve been learning things in an order – the somewhat easier and lighter ones first, then building up.  Eventually I’ll have them all learned so when I do them they will be under my belt.  But every time you learn a new one, you learn something you can apply elsewhere, and it makes the ones you’ve already learned better.  It all works together.

BD:  One last question
– is singing fun?

GR:  It is when it’s going well.  It’s the worst thing in the world if you don’t feel very well.  Then it’s a struggle to produce it.  There is nothing like standing and looking out at this black void.  You sometimes see things twinkling – glasses or jewels – and you’re surrounded by this music and you are floating on it.  There’s just nothing like it, there really isn’t.  It is the most fun in the world.


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Though not an animal-owner, Bruce Duffie enjoys the 10 cats and 4 dogs that inhabit the WNIB studios.  Indeed, for a recent profile in the WNIB Program Guide, he insisted that his choice of photo be the one where he is holding a feline.  [To see that photo, click here.  To see him (and the General Manager of the station) with one of the dogs, click here.  To see a few of the other animals, click here.]  Next time in these pages, a conversation with counter-tenor Jeffrey Gall.  






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO
20 North Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
312-332-2244

Lyric Opera of Chicago names Gianna Rolandi Director of Lyric Opera Center for American Artists

Gianna Rolandi has been named director of the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists (LOCAA), the prestigious training program for young professional singers at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Rolandi succeeds Richard Pearlman, who died April 8, and who had served as the program’s director since 1995. Rolandi worked closely with Pearlman since she became director of vocal studies for the Opera Center in May 2002. She has served as acting director since Pearlman’s death.

“I am thrilled to accept the position of director of the Opera Center,” Rolandi said. “It brings me great joy to continue the legacy of my dear colleague Richard Pearlman, and it is a privilege to play a part in helping these tremendously talented young singers realize their dreams.”

Each year the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists selects a dozen gifted young singers from some 500 applicants. Soon after arriving at Lyric in April, incoming LOCAA members began an intensive full-year residency under the guidance of numerous opera professionals. Coaching sessions and master classes are augmented by performance and understudy experience in productions mounted by Lyric Opera of Chicago, including the eight operas of Lyric’s regular season. New ensemble members generally remain in the program for two to three seasons, after which they embark on full-time professional careers. The Opera Center’s directors preceding Pearlman were Andrew Foldi, Lee Schaenen, and Herbert Handt. The program was founded in 1973 and was incorporated in 1974.

“Gianna has been with us as director of vocal studies for the past four years – no one understands the program and how it functions better than she does,” said William Mason, Lyric’s general director. “She brings her personal experience as a singer to the program, and has proven herself to be a superb teacher. Many of the young singers she has worked with have already launched distinguished careers.”

Mason noted that much of what Rolandi will do as director of the Opera Center she has been involved with previously. “Gianna has been part of the decision-making process since coming to Lyric, working closely with Richard Pearlman and Opera Center manager Dan Novak, as well as Lyric Opera’s music director Sir Andrew Davis, artistic administrator Andreas Melinat, and myself,” Mason said. “She is a wonderful colleague and everyone in the company is delighted to continue working with her in this expanded capacity.”

Mason added that Rolandi’s previous duties have been incorporated into her new role as director of the Opera Center, so the position of director of vocal studies will no longer exist at LOCAA.

As director of the Opera Center, Rolandi will oversee all artistic aspects of LOCAA’s activities and operations. She will travel nationally for preliminary auditions each spring and summer, followed by final auditions at Lyric each fall. Rolandi will continue to oversee each ensemble member’s vocal and artistic development (as she has been doing as director of vocal studies), and will provide professional advice and counsel. She will select guest teachers and resident and guest faculty for LOCAA’s training curriculum, plan concert engagements and recitals for ensemble members, and work closely with Lyric’s artistic administration to cast ensemble members for Lyric’s mainstage season.  Rolandi will also advocate for ensemble members with artist representatives and opera-company and symphony executives to help secure management and future engagements for ensemble singers when they complete the program. Additionally, Rolandi will oversee the artistic aspects of two major education outreach programs: “Opera in the Neighborhoods” and “Meet the Artist.”

As LOCAA’s director of vocal studies since 2002, Rolandi has shown an exceptional gift for teaching young singers how to shape and polish their voices and their interpretations, and how best to prepare for a life in the lyric theater. Among her students have been Nicole Cabell, Lauren Curnow, Roger Honeywell, Quinn Kelsey, Dina Kuznetsova, Brian Leerhuber, Lauren McNeese, Scott Ramsay, Stacey Tappan, Erin Wall, and Guang Yang, many of whom have continued to work with Rolandi after completing the program.

Gianna Rolandi has enjoyed great success on opera, concert, and recital stages internationally over the course of her career. She graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1975 and made her operatic debut that year with the New York City Opera as Olympia/The Tales of Hoffmann and as Zerbinetta/Ariadne auf Naxos, both to critical acclaim. Rolandi was a leading coloratura soprano at NYCO for the next 15 years, singing more than 30 roles in operas including I puritani, La traviata, The Daughter of the Regiment, Rigoletto, Lucia di Lammermoor and The Cunning Little Vixen (both telecast live from Lincoln Center), Lakmé, and Giulio Cesare, among others.  Following her Metropolitan Opera debut as Sophie/Der Rosenkavalier in 1979, Rolandi returned to the Met to portray Olympia/The Tales of Hoffmann, Zerbinetta/Ariadne auf
Naxos, and the title role of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol. At Lyric Opera of Chicago she debuted as Dorinda in Handel’s Orlando (1986), and returned to sing Despina/Così fan tutte (1993-94), a production that marked her retirement from the stage.

Rolandi has performed with many of the major North American opera companies, including San Francisco Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, the Washington National Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston. She debuted in Europe in 1981 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Zerbinetta, returning in 1984 for her first performances of Susanna/The Marriage of Figaro and Zdenka/Arabella, to enormous critical acclaim. Other major European engagements have included Ginerva/Ariodante and Cleopatra/ Giulio Cesare in Geneva, Constanze/Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Lyon and Paris, Almirena/Rinaldo at the Châtelet in Paris, Amenaide/Tancredi in Torino, and Elcia/Mose at the Pesaro Festival in Italy. Rolandi has recorded Susanna/The Marriage of Figaro under Haitink, and has appeared on video as
Zdenka/Arabella in the Glyndebourne production.

Orchestral engagements have included appearances with all the major ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the BBC
Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic with conductors including Leonard Bernstein, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Bernard Haitink, Erich Leinsdorf, and James Levine.  Rolandi was born in New York City and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s music director, and their teenaged son Edward.







© 1993 Bruce Duffie

This interview was recorded in Chicago on November 8, 1993.  Portions (along with recordings) were broadcast on WNIB in 1997.  The transcription was made in 1995 and published in The Opera Journal in June of that year.  It was slightly re-edited and posted on this website in 2009. 

Award-winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.