Meet Paula Rivera-Dantagnan, DVOC's "Baba" in THE MEDIUM, opening July 8, 2017.
Is this the first time you have played Baba?
Yes, this is the first time I have sung this role.
What did you do to prepare for her emotional arc? What are the most difficult parts about Baba’s mental journey?
I find Baba a very challenging role both musically and dramatically. This is what drew me to her but I confess that there were moments at the beginning when I wondered if I was going to be able to do this. I found it hard to invite this woman into my psyche and my emotions. As an artist I always try to find things in myself that relate to the character, even if they are feelings I would never act on. Baba takes you into a dark place! I think at the beginning I could only stand practicing for about 25 min before I had to close the score and go and do something to lift my spirits! She is definitely hard to live with but I finally got to a point where I was able to pity her. Her aria, where she tries so hard to fight her fear and prays to God to forgive her is what gave me this connection. She may have done horrible things in her life but nobody deserves to live with that fear.
How does the music guide your dramatic choices?
I think Menotti's score is absolutely amazing and it is what makes this opera so completely terrifying and heartbreaking. For a singer, it makes things easier because literally all you have to do is let yourself be guided by it. All her inner torment, her rage, her fear are laid bare for everyone to experience. It really gets under your skin and you don't have to wonder what to do for the music is telling you.
Have you ever experienced a supernatural event?
No. I have never attended a seance or anything of that sort. Most of me is really skeptical about such things but there is part of myself that believes that anything is possible so I can't say that I dismiss it completely. I have a friendly concept of death and like to think that I am still connected to beloved people that I have lost. So maybe, who knows....
Interview by Elizabeth Oliver
The Medium, "Johnny" Schicchi and Black Horses will be performed on July 8, 12 and 16 at Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, Manayunk, Philadelphia, PA.
Tickets: $25 Non-Members, $20 for Members, Students w/ ID, and Seniors.