The highly caffeinated diva dishes on playing Lady Macbeth, her rituals on the road and her surprising superpower
Canadian-American soprano Othalie Graham is acclaimed throughout North America for her interpretations of the title roles in “Turandot” and “Aida,” both of which she’s performed with Opera Carolina. She’s about to add Lady Macbeth to that list.
The Boston Globe wrote
of her Turandot: her “timbre and power were thrilling – steely ring from top to
bottom – and her path from imperiousness to passion was convincing,” while
Opera News described her as “a vocally secure Turandot, her gleaming tones well
suited to the ice princess’s misanthropic
When she plays Turandot, she’s playing against type. The real Othalie Graham is vivacious, fun-loving and joyful. Follow her on Facebook to see what we mean.
We talked to her about how she’s preparing for her debut as the calculating Lady Macbeth and what she plans to do when she returns to the Queen City.
You’re performing Lady Macbeth for the first time this season, right? At both Opera Carolina and Toledo Opera. What do you love most about this juicy role?
I love that she is
ambitious, strong and very cunning.
This will be your second time on the Opera Carolina stage. What are your impressions of Opera Carolina and Charlotte?
I love Opera Carolina and especially the incredible audiences. They’re so enthusiastic and kind. Charlotte is one of my favorite cities! It has the best airport and so many things to do and see. I loved the NASCAR [Hall of Fame], the [Daniel Stowe] Botanical Gardens and some really incredible restaurants.
What are you doing to prepare for your role?
I started by rereading the Shakespeare play and doing a lot of research. Then I translated the entire score into English. I have been working for many months. This role is fiendishly difficult and it is truly becoming one of my favorites.
What’s your favorite role you’ve ever played?
I still love
Turandot. She will always hold a special place in my heart.
What’s your dream role?
How will you unwind while you’re in Charlotte?
I’m hoping to sneak in quite a few naps, a couple of spa days, lunches or dinners with my cast and colleagues, a visit to the Mint Museum and maybe some long hikes.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an opera singer?
Tell us about your family.
I have an incredibly loving family – a wonderfully steadfast and loving husband, my amazing and loving son and my devoted and resilient mother who many of my colleagues love so much. She travels with me often, and we all rely on her. The love of my life, my perfect father, passed away when he was only 48. I carry him in my heart every day.
Where is home for you?
Philadelphia and Brampton, Ontario.
Favorite self-care ritual when on the road?
Sheet masks, good books, Facetime with my family and documentaries.
There’s an old superstition that no one is supposed to say “Macbeth” in the theater. People often refer to it as “the Scottish play” instead. Do you plan to honor that? Or do you think it’s silly?
I absolutely will honor that. Every old superstition in the theater should be honored.
Are you superstitious? About what?
I am not very superstitious per se but there are some very specific traditions that I adhere to when I arrive at the opera house. I always walk out to the stage several hours before curtain and kneel and pray. I tell God how grateful I am and ask that my darling father can be there to hear me sing the best I can in that day.
What’s one fun fact about you?
I have an intense relationship with espresso.
What’s your superpower? Drinking nine shots of espresso every morning!