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Naperville native stars in Chicago Lyric Opera production

A Naperville native is starring in Chicago’s latest production, Lyric Opera.

Soprano Tamara Wilson took on the role of Senta in composer Richard Wagner’s masterpiece “The Flying Dutchman” for five performances from September 23 to October 1. 7 at Chicago Lyric Opera.

A famous and award-winning opera singer, Wilson moved to Naperville at the age of 10 and graduated from Waubonsie Valley High School. She attended the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and graduated in 2004. This is his third production with Lyric. Last season, she was seen as the female lead Elvira in “Ernani”.

In his career, he has appeared in leading roles with the Canadian Opera Company, English National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Liceu, Metropolitan Opera and Sydney Opera House. He regularly performs on the stages of the world’s most famous opera houses; Including Teatro la Scala, Los Angeles Opera, Oper Frankfurt, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro La Fenice and Santa Fe Opera.

In 2016, he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. He won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award as well as the Grand Prize at the annual Francisco Viñas International Song Competition held at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, ​​Spain. It won the Grammy for Best Choral Performance in 2022.

He made a name for himself by performing the works of Verdi and Strauss.

“This is my first German opera here,” he said of “The Flying Dutchman.” “I have sung mostly Italian repertoire my entire career. In my last two seasons, I have been slowly building more Wagner roles; these are big, heavy operas where singers must sing; It’s not necessarily louder, but you’ve got a bigger orchestra to deal with, so it requires a different kind of performance. stamina and singing. And they tend to be much longer operas. “That’s not so bad because we don’t have a falling out.”

“The Flying Dutchman” is perhaps Wagner’s most memorable opera, and one you may be familiar with.

“If you’ve ever watched Looney Tunes or anything like that, you’ve heard some of the themes of the opera before,” he said. “It’s perfect for a spooky season because it sounds like a haunted ship is coming. It’s really fun.”

In “The Flying Dutchman,” Wilson plays a young Norwegian woman named Senta, who comes from a small fishing village. Senta grew up hearing stories of a mysterious sailor named the Flying Dutchman who was cursed to wander the seas forever.

Wilson said that in order for the curse to be lifted, he had to find a woman who would love him and be faithful to him. Naturally, Senta wants to be the girl who breaks that curse.

“This is a story about betrayal, redemption, and striving for some kind of redemption,” he said. “This is one of (Wagner’s) better ones. This show doesn’t happen very often. I think they said at Lyric it’s been 20 years since this happened.”

Lyric’s production uses a 72-piece orchestra and a 90-member choir.

“The chorus sounds like it’s worth a million dollars,” he said. “It’s a huge wall of sound that gives you chills.”

Opera singers don’t use microphones. “Nothing is amplified, everything is done through their voices,” he said.

“This is what we train for,” he said. “But the amount of energy it requires, sometimes you’re on stage for two or three hours. “It’s definitely a different beast.”

Although music has always been a part of her life, becoming an opera singer wasn’t always her plan.

“My mother was a music educator. “We always did musical theater around the house,” he said. “I grew up watching musical films. I wanted to be Judy Garland because she was in fun movies, but I wanted to sing like Deanna Durbin.

During his middle school and high school years, he participated in theater plays, musicals and choir.

“When it came time to decide what to do with my life, I was lucky to have a voice teacher who was a graduate student at Roosevelt. He placed me at a summer camp for opera singers in Oberlin, Ohio.”

This led to him being accepted into CCM in Cincinnati. Surprisingly, he found that the roles he got were limited.

“I was tall and looked like a mother since I was 12, so I always played the roles of mother, aunt or crazy woman. “That’s why I couldn’t show what I could really say,” he said.

“I didn’t get recruited very much in college, mostly because I don’t think they really knew what to do with me. I also thought about becoming a teacher because I love teaching. This is one of my favorite things. “I worked a lot in the choir section, did a lot of solos, that kind of thing.”

Things started to turn around for him when he started doing vocal competitions. She was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which led to her participation in the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Program in 2005.

“Two years after that, I started working professionally. It was as if the doors opened when they opened.”

Although he considers Houston his permanent home these days, he’s thrilled to be hired in Chicago. He hopes others besides friends and family will come to see “The Flying Dutchman.”

“The guy who sings Dutchman is probably the best Dutchman in the world right now,” he said of bass-baritone Tomasz Konieczny. “The guy who plays my father (Mika Kares) is Finnish. I had seen him in videos and when I found out he was going to be here I was like, ‘Oh my God, this guy is so good.’

“The first day I was fangirling. Really good staff. People will watch a well-sung opera. If you want to get into the autumn and Halloween mood, be sure to watch this show.”

‘The Flying Dutchman’

When: 23 September-October. 7

Where: Chicago Lyric Opera, 20 N. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago

Tickets: $41-$319

Information: 312-827-5600; lyricoopera.org/dutchman

Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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