Hitting the high note

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FIRST TIME Opera singer Deborah Domanski.
FIRST TIME Opera singer Deborah Domanski.

Opera singer Deborah Domanski discusses her art.

She destroys the stereotypes of opera singers. She is not the full-bodied, high-pitched soprano. Instead Deborah Domanski is a lean mezzo-soprano who prefers "pants roles". She recently performed for the Second BML Munjal Awards at the Hero Mindmine Summit at the Hotel Taj Palace. She received rave reviews for her role as Cherubino in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", which she performed at Tulsa Opera last year. She enjoys playing male roles, which Mozart had in fact written originally for young boys. While originally opera singers were perceived as large and intimidating, Domanski says, "Today opera is more Hollywood", which means, opera singers have to look their part. If as in Puccini's "Madame Butterfly", the line is "Petite butterfly", then the singer should look a petite butterfly. Baritones are less Pavarotti-esque and more Baywatch. She adds with a laugh that they are keen to remove their shirts since they have been working out! Domanski herself looks more Hollywood actress than Boloshoi soprano.

In America

This American-born and brought up opera singer finds that opera is seeping into America. It's slowly moving out of the elite portals and finding its own context. While opera has strong European roots, Domanski notices a growth of interest in America. In Europe the government supports opera. There is greater awareness due to the historical roots. But she finds little opera companies mushrooming across America. With companies conducting outreach programmes in schools and colleges, the awareness is increasing. There is talent emerging from different conservatories. There is a proliferation of contemporary American operas. Operas are being drawn from movies like "Dead Man Walking" or American plays like Tennessee William's "Streetcar Named Desire". But integration is what interests her about opera. Mozart, she elaborates was an Austrian, who wrote in Italian but whose music was essentially Germanic. Mozart is evidently her favourite composer. Why? "Mozart is perfection. He was the Shakespeare of music. You can't get more perfect than him." Domanski, a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music and an Artist Diploma holder from Julliard Opera Centre, is accustomed to solo performances. In the Capital, her recital was based on her husband Michael Gelb's book, "How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci". Through seven carefully chosen pieces she puts to song the working principles of Da Vinci's mind. She uses a Gershwin piece to illustrate the principle of "learn from experience". Gershwin's song discusses the inventors who braved humiliation for their beliefs. A Bach cantata is used to illustrate the principle of balancing art and science. While the piece is very rhythmical and measured it evokes beautiful emotions. Flashing pointed red nails and laughing warmly, Domanski says the stage has never intimidated her. "On stage, I just feel, this is what I am supposed to do." NANDINI NAIR



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