Imagine being a Lyft driver and getting serenaded by one of your passengers — who just so happens to be a renowned opera singer. That happened recently, when famed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, who stars as the lead in Opera Philadelphia's “Tancredi,” took a ride to rehearsal.
“When I told [the driver] what I did for a living, he asked me to sing for him — which I wouldn’t normally do,” she says. “But for some reason I decided to sing for this guy, and he was unbelievably moved — almost to tears. He says, ‘I don’t know anything about opera, and now I want to go and see one.’”
We chat with the Richard Tucker Award winner about the accessibility of opera, playing the role of a man in the Rossini's "Tancredi" and relishing sad endings.
In Tancredi, you play the lead role — a man. How does it feel to wear the pants onstage?
It’s a very nice experience. I’ve played several men before and in this show, I’m not the only one doing it. There’s a lovely young mezzo-soprano who is playing one of the soldiers — Roggiero. I remarked to a few of my colleagues recently, “I wish more of my male counterparts had the opportunity to explore their feminine side.”
So men don’t typically play female roles in opera?
It doesn’t tend to go both ways. When there’s a role where a man sings a woman’s part or a role that’s a woman, it’s generally comedic. So it’s not the same.