Irish American soprano Kiera Duffy steps into the role of a lifetime when she’ll walk onto the stage of London’s Royal Albert Hall this weekend for the 25th anniversary celebration of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera.
Duffy will play the role of Carlotta Cuidicelli, the diva that the Phantom bumps off the stage in favor of his beloved Christine, played by Sierra Boggers.
The role of Phantom, made famous by Michael Crawford, will be brought to life by Ramin Karimloo.
Duffy is recognized for both her gleaming high soprano and repertoire that encompasses Handel, Praetorius, Bach, Mozart and Verdi to the modern sounds of Alban Berg, Elliott Carter and John Zorn.
She made her London Symphony Orchestra debut singing the role of Cunegonde in a concert performance of Candide. (Check her out on www.kieraduffy.com)
To me, she will forever be the sweet little kid niece of a dear friend. Legions of proud Duffys will be making the trip to see her this week, their hearts brimming with pride. It’s almost enough to make a jaded New York Irish music critic tear up with pride himself. I spoke with this un-diva diva as she was boarding her flight. Here’s how it went! ----------------- READ MORE: In Focus: Mark Whelan piano player and rapper with the Irish band Funzo - VIDEOS
Comhaltas: Making Music for Sixty Years ----------------- How did the audition go for the Phantom role and how did the opportunity come to you? Cameron Mackintosh's office (producer) contacted my management, who in turn contacted me, in early August asking if I might be interested in the project. As I am not a musical theater performer I was pretty shocked that they even knew who I was, but the project sounded really amazing so I agreed.
There wasn’t time to assemble everyone, including me, in London for a proper live audition. They asked for a video audition so I called my pianist friend, slapped on some diva-like makeup since I was singing for the part of an opera diva, drove to Philly, recorded the excerpts on my iPhone, drove home, somehow figured out how to put them on YouTube with only a private link, and sent them off to my manager.
I received an email from Mackintosh's office saying they were very impressed by my dedication and chutzpah, and I got offered the role. What a whirlwind! I couldn't believe it!
I heard that Andrew Lloyd Webber personally picked you and said something to the effect that your high-D note fried his speaker.
I'm not sure that Andrew personally picked me or not, but they did tell me that my high D in the opening cadenza blew out one of the speakers on his iPad. Whoops!
What can viewers expect from this show that might be different from seeing it in a theater?
Well, I don't dare give too much away, but suffice it to say that this is going to be a spectacle. The Royal Albert Hall is a massive hall, so everything is going to be bigger in order to suit the needs of the space.
The set is astonishing -- I've just seen it. The cast is magnificent -- really creme de la creme. And of course, there are going to be some wonderful surprise appearances! What advice would you give people aspiring to do what you do?
This is not an easy life. It may seem very glamorous, and there are certainly glamorous elements, but the life of a performer, more often than not, is a tough one.
You have to feel compelled to be a performer, which is to say, you have to believe at the core of your being that this is what you need to do and there is nothing that could possibly fulfill you more.
You cannot go into this life because you want to be famous or you want to make money. You have to love the craft. You have to love hard work. You have to have a support system. You must have fortitude and courage and skin thicker than the thickest of cowhides.
And I think, beyond anything else I've said, you have to know that if it doesn't work out, if you don't "make it," you have not failed. You are by no means less-than. I think that's maybe the hardest lesson of all to accept.