PerformerUpClose: Louisa Tee

Louisa Tee, Soprano. 
OperaUpClose performer credits: Donna Anna Don Giovanni (King's Head Theatre); Rosalinde Die Fleidermaus (King's Head Theatre); Violetta La Traviata (Soho Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, UK tour); Countess The Marriage of Figaro (King's Head Theatre, UK tour) and Micaëla Carmen (Soho Theatre).

This interview was taken in February 2015.

How did you get into opera?
I started working for Opera Holland Park (OHP) in their chorus and enjoyed it so much that I decided to train as a classical singer. I'd originally trained as an actor and had worked in musical theatre but then when I worked for OHP I realised how much I loved opera... and that was about 10 years ago.

What would you say, are the highlights in your career?
Playing Violetta in La Traviata! It's my favourite opera and absolute favourite role. Performing Violetta last summer at the Soho Theatre with OperaUpClose was a dream come true. Another would be performing Carmen at the O2 Arena in front of 14,000 people- you don't realise until the lights come up in the auditorium, how vast it is and what a huge number of people there are watching you! Quite an amazing moment, to perform in a venue that huge.

What is it about Violetta that attracted you to the role?
From an acting point of view it's her complexities. You go on a very difficult journey with Violetta from start to finish and there's so much colour in the character and so much you can play with. She's incredibly strong and yet at the end when she's dying, she's so vulnerable. She's treated so badly by the men in her life throughout the opera and yet she's forgiving at the end. She's one of opera's greatest and most complex female roles.

Are you excited to sing Violetta once more in the Tricycle Theatre this June?
Yes! I can't wait to go back to it. I've missed La Traviata a lot, so I cannot wait.

What would you most want to perform, given the chance?
Really, if I had the voice it would be Lady Macbeth! Haha. But it's not my fach unfortunately. Yes, that would be a role that I will never play, but would have absolutely loved to.

What is your favourite part of the job?
I love the challenge of getting it right musically as a singer, technically singing the best that you can, whilst at the same time being real in the moment. To be able to hit the top notes and do it with conviction and truth and its a big challenge but when you get there, when you get it right, it's fantastic.

What's your least favourite part of the job?
Not working. Haha! Not necessarily in financial terms, but more the period of having nothing to work on.

As a singer, do you prefer opera in English translations or opera in it's original language?
There's a real immediacy when singing in English. The audience know what's going on and you know whats going on! It can really change your performance for the better when you sing in your own language. And I love that. But Italian is much easier to sing than English. So the singer in me prefers Italian and the actor prefers the English translations! Recently I've been working a lot in English, with OperaUpClose and other companies that use translations.

What's the next step for opera to continue its growth as an art form?
I think, in terms of making opera accessible, the smaller companies who put on operas in smaller venues, are the way forward. It's a more intimate experience, very different experience from the one you get at the opera house. Not a better experience but it does give people the opportunity who very rarely go to the theatre, to see opera, to choose opera over a stage play.

Whats the most embarrassing thing to happen to you on stage?
I wore a dress that was far too tight for me at a recital and at the end I took my bow and the dress ripped open at the back! It didn't quite fall down but I had to sideways step off the stage whilst holding it up. I think the audience knew... very embarrassing.

What's next for you?
I'm about to get married! So I'm about to have a bit of time off on my honeymoon and then back for La Traviata at the Tricycle Theatre in the summer and Carmen at Soho Theatre in the Autumn- which I cannot wait for!!!!