A Chat with The Huffington Post | 2015-16 Season
Susanna Phillips joins the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas for Samuel Barber’s “nostalgic” Knoxville: Summer of 1915 tonight (September 30, 2015) through Saturday, October 3, 2015. Before the week’s rehearsals got started Susanna gave The Huffington Post contributor Sean Martinfield her thoughts on Barber’s work, her upcoming role as Juliette in the February-March 2016 production of Romeo et Juliette at The Lyric Opera of Chicago, and more. Below is an excerpt from that interview, and you can read the entire article HERE.
Last May, Susanna Phillips sang the Mahler 4th with SF Symphony and two years ago at the New Year’s Eve Concert lit-up the party with fiery coloratura on an operetta favorite of Jeanette MacDonald’s – the “Italian Street Song” from Victor Herbert’s Naughty Marietta. I hastened to point out to Susanna that two of her forthcoming roles in 2016 – “Hannah” in The Merry Widow at Boston Lyric Opera and Romeo et Juliette at Lyric Opera of Chicago are likewise linked to Hollywood’s immortal soprano. “I love to sing coloratura,” said Susanna.
“Romeo and Juliette was the first full operatic role I ever did. It was in a very small community production in my hometown in Alabama when I was in college. Then, when I was a Young Artist at the Lyric Opera of Chicago I covered Juliette. One night, the Juliette was sick and I got to go on – with just a few short hours’ notice. That was very exciting for me. It’s a part I’ve known my whole singing life and a part that I love dearly. I’m very excited to do it – especially with Lyric Opera of Chicago, because it’s like a homecoming for me.”
Knoxville: Summer of 1915 was commissioned and debuted by soprano Eleanor Steber. It is a luxurious example of the finest in American Art Song…
…”This is a character who looks back and waxes nostalgic about growing up in the south in the summertime. There really is nothing like it – the lightning bugs, sitting on blankets in the backyard, watching your parents rocking back and forth on the porch, people going by lazily. That’s what it is. It’s very close to home for me. But this is somebody who has left, who is remembering these things. There’s a certain kind of pain in it, a sadness that comes with it. These are people you love and adore, but they can’t tell you who you are. You have to discover your own person. That’s what this character is about.”
(Sean Martinfield, The Huffington Post, September 2015)