Soprano, 24, UWS
Since the 1950s, winners of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions have become the biggest names in opera. Add to that list hometown favorite Lori Guilbeau. The 24-year-old soprano, one of 2010’s five winners and a Louisiana native, came to NYC to earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. Allan Kozinn has praised her “beautiful tone and… graceful sense of phrasing,” though he went on to poke fun at her acting. A little improvement on the dramatics couldn’t hurt, but we’re not too worried about her future. In opera, The Voice trumps all—and that’s what Guilbeau’s got.
The L: How did you get into opera? I imagine a taste for it must have been unique among your peers.
Lori: Although my parents aren't musicians they've always exposed me to different types of music. I took a liking to classical music from a very young age. I knew I wanted to sing and my voice always had an operatic quality. Yes, it was definitely a unique taste coming from a small town in south Louisiana!
The L: What made you come to NY to study? What do you think of the music scene here, classical or otherwise?
Lori: The first time I visited New York, I knew I had to live here. I felt so inspired. One of the main things that drew me to move to New York is the active music scene.
The L: At the competition, you sang arias by Verdi and Barber, two composers with very different styles. Is there a style you prefer, or that you find yourself gravitating toward as you get older? How does a singer determine such a move?
Lori: I feel that because I'm so young and I haven't had the chance to perform every style so I can't really say which I prefer. I think of myself as a versatile singer and enjoy working on many different styles. Right now I am having a great time working on Richard Strauss' Vier Lezte Lieder. I love Strauss! I definitely see myself singing this repertoire as I get older. As far as determining which direction my voice goes in, I have a having good team of people that I trust to help me with those decisions.
The L: In a review of Penelope, Allan Kozinn ribbed you on your acting. How hard does an opera singer work on her acting, compared to her singing? (That is, how seriously do you take the theatrical aspect of opera in comparison to the musical?)
Lori: I take the acting aspect of opera very seriously, especially with today's high standards of the visual in opera. My path with singing started from a musical aspect not from a theatrical one. With that said, there are still many things I would like to work on as a singing actress. I believe that just like many things, this will come with experience.
The L: If you could collaborate with any other New York City artist (living or dead), who would it be, why, and what would you hope to create together?
Lori: Choosing just one is difficult. I would have to say Maestro James Levine. I had the great pleasure of singing on his master class at Carnegie Hall last January and it was amazing. Creating any music with him would be incredible.
The L: What's next for you?
Lori: In this year I have a concert with the Monterey Symphony and a recital with Carnegie Hall's Neighborhood concert series. I'm also preparing Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore for Den Nye Opera in Bergen, Norway. Despite all this travel, I'll still be living in New York.