The vibrant Emma Pearson will play Queen Athalia in Handel's Athalia this June. Emma sat down with Candice Docker for five minutes to chat about her role, experiences with opera and what audiences can expect from this Handel offering.
On her role as Queen Athalia
I’m quite happy to be playing a despotic, regal character again- I’ve played the Queen of the Night quite a lot in the past, and I enjoy the challenge of co-ordinating difficult singing with performing in the large costumes and fantastical scenery. For the role of Queen Athalia, I guess I’m still trying to decide which path to take. Handel’s music and the text from Jean Racine and Samuel Humphreys have created a really complex character. She is the only female monarch to be mentioned in the Bible and as I learn her music I feel like Handel respected her for that and wanted us to feel for her. With Erin and Lindy’s help I’m trying different personalities and with each scene, slowly working out my take on Queen Athalia.
On the ephemeral quality of Opera
Some themes that operas are based on never change- they’re as current and relevant to audiences now as they have always been. A political story like this one, where a tyrant is usurped is always going to be interesting to audiences, maybe even cathartic.
The voice lets other people share emotions and when people come to the opera, I think, they want to feel empathy and be swept away by the characters’ emotional journeys. I also think people enjoy the glamour of opera and seeing how perfectly we can fine tune an artistic pursuit. It takes a lot of training and many years to produce an opera singer. I think people appreciate that we haven’t just rolled out of bed and started singing. When trained musicians, performers, designers and directors come together they can create something transcendent.
On working with a team of (mostly) women
I think women coming to watch Athalia will really appreciate the predominantly female creative team behind this production. The costumes, the care taken around the romantic scenes, the battle between the two strong female leads and all the relationships between characters will be believable for the majority of the audience.
On working with Pinchgut Opera
It’s been really wonderful. I’m thrilled to work with all the experts here. I’ve been admiring this company from afar, in Germany thinking ‘gosh I’d love to work with these guys’ and finally, I am!
Emma sang the role o Queen Athalia in Handel's Athalia at City Recital Hall, 21-26 June, 2018.