Following a highly successful last-minute substitution at the Chicago Lyric Opera in 1994, Emily Magee quickly made a name for herself in the United States. She began her operatic career with music from the Viennese classical period as Mozart’s Fiordiligi; however, in the years that followed she focussed mainly on the late-romantic heroines of Strauss and Wagner. An astounding progression towards the dramatic German roles, about which Emily Magee comments with a healthy dose of self-deprecation: “I have always had the kind of voice that makes one wonder just which direction it would take.” Nowadays, the American soprano is a much sought-after and acclaimed singer; however, as always, her main residence is in Colorado in the United States. The busy artist travels intensively and at times has “no idea where I am and which day it is, but I like travelling. If life is a journey, then our life is very special.”
With her radiant, youthfully dramatic soprano voice, Magee easily holds her own against the large orchestras in works by Strauss, Puccini, Verdi, or Wagner. The critics especially praise her “beautifully constructed vocal phrasing” as well as her “finely cultivated tones.” No wonder Magee has already had such success in all her roles in Europe, where the opera-houses are steeped in tradition. The artist is gratifyingly level-headed, with both feet on the ground as far as her voice is concerned: “It is so simple to talk about singing in a pretentious manner. I always remind myself that, after all, it is all just based on two cartilages in our throat.”
When learning a role, apart from a careful musical examination of the part, Emily Magee sets great store by an intensive mental and, above all, emotional analysis of the often highly complex character. And her relationship with the great roles in the operas of Richard Strauss is obviously very special, for as she says: “When I sing Strauss, it kind of feels like I have come home.”
Richard Strauss - Salome
10 January 2018
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