Carmen – hedonistic and hot-tempered – is larger than life. Who wouldn’t want to play such a rebellious seductress?
American soprano Alyson Cambridge is ready for the role. The Arlington, Va., native was educated at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. (Other notable alumni include first daughter Malia Obama, Bill Nye the Science Guy and ABC News’ Charles Gibson.)
From there, she attended Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music and then the Curtis Institute of Music for a master’s degree. She was also part of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Cambridge, who also sings classical, jazz, the great American songbook and more, resides in New York City.
What’s your favorite role you’ve sung?
It’s a toss-up between Madama Butterfly and Julie La Verne in Show Boat. I love them both for different reasons.
What’s your dream role?
Hopefully, Tosca someday soon.
What do you love about Carmen?
I have sung Micaela and Frasquita before, so I know the opera well. But this is my first time singing Carmen. She is opera’s ultimate femme fatale. I’m looking forward to tackling the wonderful dramatic challenges the role provides.
Anything you’re doing to prepare for the role?
Practice, practice, practice! And I have to brush up on my castanet and dancing skills.
This year, Opera Carolina is featuring operas with strong female leads. How does Carmen personify the strong woman who lives life on her terms?
You’ve said it well. Carmen lives life on her own terms, by her own rules and owns it. She is strong, but also human and vulnerable. In that way, she is incredibly relatable.
Tell me about your modeling and nonprofit work.
I signed with my first modeling agency about 14 years ago, about a year after moving to New York City, upon the suggestion of a hair and makeup artist at the Met. One thing led to another, and now I have four agencies that represent me for print and on-camera commercial modeling. It’s a part of my career that certainly encourages me to stay in shape and is a fun change of pace from singing all the time.
As for charity, I work closely with The Fresh Air Fund, which sends children from underserved communities to summer camps … I’ve also done a lot with Sing for Hope, which brings music, art, dance and theater to … hospitals and schools. It was founded 12 years ago by two of my dear opera singer friends, Monica Yunus and Camille Zamora, and I try to do their outreach concerts whenever I can.
Anything you’re looking forward to doing or seeing during your time in Charlotte?
I’m looking forward to getting to explore and to trying local cuisine and art museums. I’m a huge art lover and a bit of a foodie.