Lisette Oropesa (b 1983) is an American soprano who recently has been making news on the world’s opera stages. This year she was awarded both the Beverly Sills and Richard Tucker prizes. She’s on the cover of this month’s Opera News. Inside there is a six page spread devoted to her career. She’s been associated with the Met since 2005 when she won the company’s National Council Auditions. She joined the Met’s Lindemann Young Artists Development Program, from which she graduated in 2008. Since 2006 she’s appeared 121 times at the Met, both in small and increasingly larger roles. This coming season she is scheduled to appear in the title roles in La Traviata and Manon. The latter will be an HD telecast.
Oropesa was born in New Orleans to parents who had emigrated from Cuba. Her mother was an opera singer who recognized her daughter’s talent and encouraged her to enroll in the vocal program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, a city to which the family had relocated early in her childhood. She’s been on an upwards arc ever since.
She also a serious runner who apparently has completed marathons. She’s also a vegan and is open about how her diet and exercise regimen helped her to achieve her current svelte figure.
Her vocal type is a high lyric soprano, but I suspect that her voice may mature such that she will be able to take on heavier roles. Her singing of Robert, toi que j’aime from Act 4 of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable shows why I think she may soon move to lirico-spinto parts. She has sung Isabelle (the lead soprano in Robert) on stage in Brussels. She’s also sung Meyerbeer’s Queen Marguerite in Les Huguenots for the Paris Opéra. Beau pays de la Touraine…A ce mot seul s’anime et renaît la nature is from Act 2. Joan Sutherland set the standard for this role. This latter aria is typical of Oropesa’s current style. The vocal qualities that make her stand out are liquid pianissimi, secure and sustained trills, and vivid coloratura.
The two excerpts from Lucia Di Lammermoor show why her recent appearance in the title role in Madrid was so well received. Tenor Ismael Jordi joins Oropesa in Verranno a te from the first act. The Mad Scene from the same opera shows the young American in resplendent form.
Next Verdi. Oropesa has already sung Gilda in Rigoletto at the Met. Her interpretation of Caro nome captures Verdi’s brilliant insight into foolish first love. Oropesa has both the vocal fireworks needed to realize Violetta in the first act of La Traviata and the pathos and emotional control to handle Verdi’s change of pace in Acts 2 and 3. In Sempre libera she blazes through the fioratura that Verdi uses to depict his doomed heroine’s attempt to ignore impending doom. Pura siccome un angelo, the Act 2 duet with the elder Germont, requires a different technique. Here she’s joined with baritone Brandon Hendrickson, who is very impressive as well. The whistling through the cemetery of the first act is replaced by resignation, remorse, and sacrifice. Oropesa is up to this change in character with brilliance equal in effect, if not tone, to that of the initial act.
Finally, the aria that’s on the short list for the most beautiful melody ever – Bellini’s Ah! Non credea mirarti from La Sonnambula. Oropesa’s reading is exquisite. The soprano appears ready be the next shiny thing in the operatic world. The coming dozen or so years should belong to her.
Great to have read an article on her! She’s perhaps my favourite active lyric soprano.
As it is now, I can’t tolerate her voice. It lacks the sumptuous sound of a Sutherland, Tebaldi, or Moffo (all who I heard live). It just hasn’t come together. The quality keeps changing note to note. And there’s a bit of rattle.