Friday, September 14, 2018

Reclaiming Soprano Role: Antonia

Tomorrow I have an audition. I'm auditioning for a role I've already played. I know that I can't go in and sing her the same way I did before. It was draining. It was sad and a little painful at the time. I want it to be powerful. I want my audition to be honest. Most people end up doing roles a few times, and if I can get this: Great! I can't wait to do it again! If not, I have been able to reclaim something from my own past and turn it around for the positive.

But I'm looking forward to revisiting this character. Even if it's for the one aria at the audition, I am happy to find her again.

In my first experience with Antonia in Tales of Hoffmann I found her to be physically weak (part of the story line) and that, for me at that time, became a sad, lifeless creature with adolescent depression issues and clingy attachment to Hoffmann. Guess what. I don't think that was the right way to go. Admittedly, I was still going through adolescent attitudes myself (even though I was 25 and in grad school). Exploring her then was emotionally taxing, and I feel like my lens on life at that time was narrow. Antonia has a very special place in my heart for many reasons. I want to reclaim her for the woman I am today.

Now, as I find her, I see that she did experience great pain from losing her mother, and she was heavily manipulated by the men in her life. The father, the boyfriend, and the villain. When did Antonia get to be herself? She loved music, and she was forbidden to sing because this would kill her (And now this story reminds me a lot of Coco!). In the end she decides that music is her only desire, her only wish - you could interpret this as the villain, "Doctor Miracle" casting his spell on her to kill her as revenge on Hoffmann, or we could look at this as defiance from Antonia. Against Hoffmann's wish, against her father's wish: She. Sings.

Who accepts her for who she is? Not the men. Each man wants her to be something different: the father wants a quiet and demure daughter, the boyfriend wants a sweet little wife, the villain wants a starlette (and revenge or something?). None of this is what she wants. She then sees her mother. Her mother encouraged her to be herself. To sing and make music and be free of the expectations of their society. Of course, Antonia is physically weak, so she does die, but hey... at least she truly LIVED for a little while.

Regarding the Mother: Today, as women, we are working so hard to reclaim ourselves and to push away expectations that have been put on us by society. We turn to the women who got us here to thank them, to take examples from their past work to drive us toward equality. Any dream we have should be valid. Whether a stay at home mom, corporate woman, or full time musician, we need to thank and value the women who paved our way. We are driven to the women in our lives to help us find ourselves.

My first time with Antonia, all I wanted was to make a man happy. Ridiculous. I am the source of my happiness. I now share a life with someone and am not GIVING my life away to someone. I am planning my wedding, and while some aspects will be traditional, I hate the idea of "giving a girl away" - sorry but that's bull crap. I am my own person, not an item to be bought. I am so glad the world is changed from Antonia's time. When you give away too many pieces of yourself, as Antonia did, you have nothing left to survive on. Maybe she knew that. Too much was taken from her and by society's expectations of her, and she lost the battle to the world. We hear this story too often, of those who take their own lives because they can no longer find their own way (sadly, this is too true in those who are transgendered). Perhaps Antonia wanted to end her life, as some women did in the 19th Century to have control of something (because it was apparently some kind of weird trend - article here). It is time to let people sing their own songs. I am ready to let Antonia sing her own song.

Edit: I had a great audition. I wasn't offered Antonia, but WAS offered a fabulous role in another opera that has a ton of life in her. No stage-dying for me this season! Will announce when I know more. :)

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