Tenor Sean Panikkar, "one of the stars of his generation" (Opera News), has performed on stages across the world, from the Metropolitan Opera to Teatro alla Scala in Italy. This summer, he'll join us in the Queen City for his Cincinnati Opera debut to sing the dreamer and poet Rodolfo in La Bohème. Read on for the inside scoop on how Sean is preparing for his role, what he thinks of Rodolfo, and how he'll spend his free time in Cincinnati!
You have performed in La Bohème before. What can you tell me about the different approaches to this classic opera?
The productions of La Bohème I've done have been fairly traditional. I have been in very intimately set productions, and even a large spectacle production in the round at London's Royal Albert Hall. While the set changes, the core of the story always remains the same.
Tell me a little about how you prepare for a role.
Classic operas and new works both require a lot of work, the preparation is a little different. For a work like La Bohème, there is a performance tradition that people are expecting, so studying prior performances is helpful. For world premieres and newer works, there is a slightly more involved process of finding and developing the character completely from scratch.
What are your impressions of Rodolfo?
Rodolfo is a heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy. He's the perfect opera character because you get the sense that he would be the same guy who bares his emotions all the time, even if he weren't in an opera!
La Bohème is one of the most frequently performed operas of all time. Why do you think it continues to resonate so well with audiences?
La Bohème is a story about relationships, and that's the core of what drives us as humans. Bohème is immediately relatable on a personal level to every audience member, and when you combine that with Puccini's glorious score, it's no wonder that La Bohème has continued to remain in the repertory.
Will your family be joining you at any point in Cincinnati?
Yes, my wife Jane, Maria (8), and Mark (5) will be with me. We usually go down the list of top 10 things to do in whatever town we are in, and knock out as many things as possible. I'm looking forward to visiting the zoo, taking in a Reds game, and visiting the Ark Encounter.