It's a different feeling," says Latvian soprano Marina Rebeka, of her return to the Metropolitan Opera. "It's much more calm, much more on the ground."
Rebeka is in the middle of a run of Rossini’s Guillaume Tell at the Met, where she sings the role of Mathilde. The production by Pierre Audi is the same in which she made her role debut in Amsterdam in 2013. Still, Rebeka took advantage of the month-long rehearsal process in New York. “I knew the production already, but it was important because I got this chemistry with my colleagues.” Onstage chemistry, plus the spatial differences between the stages in Amsterdam and New York (“The stage is smaller in the Met,” Rebeka adds), add enough novelty to keep her on her toes.
“It’s really a big house. Everything is happening there, lots of celebrities,” says Rebeka of working at the Met. Her debut at the company was as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, with a stellar cast that included Ramón Vargas, Mariusz Kwiecień, Luca Pisaroni, and Barbara Frittoli. “The first time is always very emotional,” Rebeka recalls of her first musical rehearsal, amid star singers at an historical opera house. “I was almost trembling, it was so emotional, such a big responsibility.”
Though the Metropolitan Opera is no small test of a singer’s nerves, Rebeka found singing in her home town of Riga to be a daunting task. “The feeling with singing at home was always very complicated,” she says. Rebeka’s professional career began in Germany, and when she sang at home, the pressure to prove herself seemed great. “Singing for family and friends, on one hand, it’s great; on the other hand, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s see what she has learned abroad.'”
Now, Rebeka finds that the hometown stress has eased. “This feeling changed, and now I really love singing there,” she says. This season, she makes two role debuts in Riga, first as Maria Stuarda, and then as Marguerite in Faust. In recent years, Rebeka has become a recognizeable name in Riga. She notes that Latvian people have a subtler way of showing their fandom, but it’s no less welcome. “They wish you health, they wish you success. You feel constantly that people follow you, that people like you.”
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