ARTSFILE is reaching out to artists from Ottawa who are making their way in the world. The results of these inquiries will form an occasional series of interviews. This time Peter Robb talks to the soprano Joyce El-Khouri who is really making her mark on opera stages in North America and Europe.
Q. Tell us what you have been doing?
A. It has been busy. The season started with singing Liu in Puccini’s Turandot with Opera Philadelphia. This was both a role and company debut. It was a wonderful experience being in my adopted hometown for a few weeks while working. I then went to sing the role of Salome in Massenet’s Hérodiade with Washington Concert Opera and my dear friend tenor Michael Fabiano. This was a dream come true for me as it was a very special occasion being that the opera had not been performed in the U.S. for more than 20 years. The last time it was presented was with Renée Fleming and Placido Domingo in San Francisco in 1995. The music from Hérodiade is so rich and beautiful which makes me wonder why it isn’t performed more often. After this engagement, I was off to London to make my Royal Opera House Covent Garden debut singing Violetta in La traviata. Luckily, Violetta is a role that I have sung many times, so it felt like an appropriate debut to make in such an iconic theatre. Between performances, I was preparing music for my solo disc which I recorded in Manchester just days after the last performance in London. It was a very intense schedule and I had to be very vigilant and organized, but it also was a very exciting and rewarding experience for me to record this disc of rarely performed works. Then it was off to Bordeaux for Leïla in Pearl Fishers, which was a role debut as well. Now I find myself in Ottawa getting ready for Rossini’s Stabat Mater in Paris next month, followed by a concert in London’s Cadogan Hall for the official release of the disc. The concert is with Maestro Carlo Rizzi, who conducted the Hallé Orchestra on the album and with wonderful tenor Michael Spyres who also recorded an album of his own as well (in the same sessions). We sang duets on each other’s discs, and these will also be presented in this concert. I will end the season with Violetta at the Glyndebourne Festival! The English countryside will be just what I need by then.