Feb 10, 2010

By Maureen Francis

At home, I’ll study my score while working out on the eliptical. While walking to the train station for an audition I’ll go over the recitative with my imaginary Figaro, ignoring the curious glances of neighbors. While at my son’s wrestling tournament I had my Mozart on my lap in the bleachers, making sure I looked up in time to see his match! While folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher, I’ll test my knowledge of the Act 2 finale and see if the movement does not distract me from an entrance. Until finally my six year old yells, “Enough Mozart Mom!!”

Little does he realize that before he arrived, I was on a stage, that I was very pregnant with his older brother while singing Rosina (our Countess in her younger years – and quite a reach as she was a virginal teenager) and that he himself was a stowaway during a Carmina Burana in Washington DC. I practice at night because the music helps them to fall asleep, or in the quiet afternoon when they are in school. In any case, I felt my Susanna was ready for Omaha. I had done my homework and now I can focus on my music for one entire month – ah, life finally simplified. Or is it?

Susanna is a role I’ve wanted to do for some time and I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity, but I am discovering that her chaotic life is not so different from my own. Our fantastic director Garnett Bruce brings his great perspective to the table and then lets the singer contribute so that it really is a communal process of creation. And this woman is the mulit-tasker. She consoles, avoids, schemes, cleans, makes tea, plays dress-up with Cherubino, hides evidence, reveals evidence, oh, you get the idea. And beautiful artists with incredible stage instincts surround her!

At home, I rarely sit down. It’s a waste of time, because inevitably someone will need something as soon as I do. Susanna rarely sits. Perhaps for a minute until she realizes she needs to hide in a closet. I was beginning to wonder if my character shoes were too small, until I realized Ms. Susanna doesn’t really rest the tootsies. At the end of the day, I go back to my hotel, rest my feet and smile because it is the exact same feeling I have when I’m home. I am contributing to a wonderful masterpiece; I am in awe of Mr. Mozart and the divine within him. At the end of the day, my husband and I will take a deep breath after our little “master”pieces are finally tucked in bed. I am dying to put my feet up with Michael and my boys will call out, “Mom, are you gonna practice?” It is the only proven tactic to guarantee that they will fall asleep and not get out of bed 15 times. And it’s God’s little way of reminding me of the beauty in multi-tasking.

Maureen Francis, Soprano, appears as Susanna in Opera Omaha’s production of Mozart’s Comic Masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro.

Fondly remembered for her Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Maureen Francis returns this season as Susanna. Following Omaha, Francis travels to Italy where she takes on the role of Morgana in Handel’s Alcina followed by operetta concerts in Asheville, NC and concerts throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. As a frequent guest of Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, she recently added the role of Musetta in La Bohème. Other roles include Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera with Bergen Opera in Bergen, Norway, the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon, Gilda in Rigoletto, Julie Jordan in Carousel, and Gretel in Hänsel and Gretel. She has debuted with Los Angeles Opera in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s opera Grendel singing the role of Dargonette directed by the world-renowned Julie Taymor. Her signature role, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, became the vehicle for her European debut at the Festival Lecco, Italy.

Tickets start at just $19.

Friday | February 26, 2010 | 7:30p
Sunday | February 28, 2010 | 2:00p

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