Adrianne Pieczonka is one of the opera world's go-to sopranos for roles requiring a gorgeous voice and strong, noble character. She's received ovations at the Met and La Scala, but now the Toronto-based singer returns to the Four Seasons, where she triumphed in the massive Ring Cycle, to play the stand-by-her-man title role in Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, beginning Saturday (January 24). See Opening.
Leonora's one of opera's most devoted wives. To what extent would you go to rescue your own partner?
Pretty extreme lengths, but whether I could pass as a man for months to infiltrate the prison where she's being kept is another matter. In opera you can suspend your disbelief.
How convincing are you in Fidelio drag?
I'm pretty hunky. I've never played a man before and was excited to get into wig and makeup the other night. People were shocked at the transformation. In costume and makeup, I feel pretty manly.
It's cold and flu season. What extra precautions do opera singers take to avoid them?
Positive thinking, at least eight hours sleep a night, lots of vitamins, yoga and healthy eating all help.
What if all that doesn't help and you come down with one?
C'est la vie - you just have to accept it. I have an understudy who can go on, but I hope this doesn't happen. If a violinist or pianist gets a bad cold, they can still perform, but a singer can't. Just part of the deal.
Where did you watch the Obama inauguration?
I was at home, toasting this historic moment with my wife, who's an American and who of course voted for Obama.
What's on the "most played" section of your iPod?
Probably Lorraine Hunt Lieberson singing Ich Habe Genug, by Bach. She was a magnificent American mezzo who died recently from breast cancer. Bach clears my mind and balances my soul.
Opera in movie theatres: pro or con?
Pro, though I'd never want people to think that attending an opera in a movie theatre is the same as attending a live opera performance.
Most embarrassing stage moment?
At La Scala I was singing Donna Anna, and in my big act-two aria with Don Ottavio, the tenor didn't show up on cue and I was literally wandering the stage trying to fill the empty space until he arrived. Hugely annoying.
Pitch me Fidelio 2: The Sequel.
Leonore and Florestan have twins and hire Marzellina (who's since wed Jacquino) to be their nanny. Rocco retires and moves into a trailer park near the prison. Bliss!