Vi­sions of Vi­o­letta: One-on-one with “La Travi­ata” star Ni­cole Car

So­prano Ni­cole Car takes to the stage this month as Vi­o­letta Valéry in Opera Aus­tralia’s pro­duc­tion of Verdi’s “La Travi­ata”.

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OPERA HAS TAKEN Aus­tralian so­prano Ni­cole Car all over the world. She’s back singing with Opera Aus­tralia this month in Verdi’s “La Travi­ata”. She takes on the lead role of Vi­o­letta, a dream for any so­prano. We speak to her about this in­cred­i­ble pro­duc­tion and her di­verse ca­reer.

Grow­ing up, did you al­ways want to be­come an opera singer? No, not at all … I thought I was go­ing to be a jazz singer! I saw my first opera (“Tosca”) when I was 17 and I was hooked af­ter that—i knew that’s what I was meant to be do­ing.

This year’s pro­duc­tion of “La Travi­ata” by Opera Aus­tralia looks set to be in­cred­i­ble. What drew you to the role of Vi­o­letta? Vi­o­letta is on the dream role list of many so­pra­nos—she is strong but vul­ner­a­ble, wil­ful yet liv­ing in a man’s world. She’s such an in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter to play. Plus, the mu­sic is sim­ply divine! I’m re­ally ex­cited to be singing it for the first time in my home coun­try!

The cos­tumes are just ex­quis­ite. Do the lav­ish clothes help you get into char­ac­ter? I think there’s an el­e­ment of tak­ing on a char­ac­ter once you’re in the clothes, wigs, etc. It helps you trans­form into some­thing very dif­fer­ent and spe­cial. The cos­tumes in this pro­duc­tion are so beau­ti­ful too—it will be such fun to be on­stage in them!

Do you have a favourite scene or mo­ment in the show? I have so many! I think the small scene with Al­fredo when Vi­o­letta knows she is go­ing to leave him—the mu­si­cal writ­ing is just heart­break­ing.

What is the last thing you do to pre­pare be­fore you go on­stage for a per­for­mance? I al­ways check that my voice is work­ing just be­fore I leave the dress­ing room! Even though I’ve warmed up ear­lier, I can’t leave the room un­less I do a few lit­tle scales just to check—it’s a bit su­per­sti­tious I guess!

You’ve had such a di­verse ca­reer, with roles tak­ing you all over the world. Do any par­tic­u­lar per­for­mances or shows stand out for you? I’ve been re­ally lucky so far in the roles I’ve been of­fered and the places I’ve been able to sing in. Per­form­ing “Eu­gene One­gin” at the Royal Opera House with Dmitri Hvoros­tovsky was very spe­cial. He was ill at the time and I think we all felt what a priv­i­lege it was to be on­stage with this man who had been con­quer­ing opera stages for such a long time.

Do you have any ex­cit­ing projects or pro­duc­tions com­ing up af­ter this sea­son of “La Travi­ata” fin­ishes? I have some re­ally fun projects com­ing up! Firstly, I go on tour with the Aus­tralian Cham­ber Orches­tra—my first tour of this kind—so I’m ner­vous/ex­cited about that. Later in the year, I’ll make my de­but at the Metropoli­tan Opera with my hus­band Eti­enne Dupuis (we’ll de­but to­gether in the same show!) and we’re thrilled about it!

“Vi­o­letta is on the dream role list of many so­pra­nos—she is strong but vul­ner­a­ble, wil­ful yet liv­ing in a man’s world.”

Photo: Ge­orges An­toni.

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