BWW Interviews: Briana Hunter of LA TRAGEDIE DE CARMEN at Opera In The Heights

By Bryan-Keyth Wilson

March 27, 2015

When doing an interview with an artist I am in awe of their love and dedication for their craft. This month I had the pleasure to meet American mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter and our conversation went from traditional interview to old friends talking about their love for the classics. Our mutual love for Bizet’s masterpiece CARMEN and love forAudra McDonald made this interview go very quickly.

BWW: So tell our readers a little about yourself. Where are you from?

BH: I was born outside of Baltimore, Maryland and grew up largely in Pennsylvania right outside of Philadelphia. I then headed to Davidson, North Carolina where I attended Davidson College and then I went to New York and got my music degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

BWW: Tell us about the New York experience.

BH: I was pretty hesitant about pursuing a performance career. I wasn’t ready to commit to a conservatory atmosphere. Music and theatre were always been a part of my life. It was around my last year at Davidson I realized this was what I wanted to do. A voice teacher there got me hooked on opera. I didn’t grow up listening to opera. I saw my first opera when I was in high school and it didn’t grab me right away.

BWW: Why conservatory vs. university?

BH: I was told to always go with the teacher. A good teacher matchup is number 1. Also, make sure that you get stage time because performing is the best experience. In being at MSM I was able to do a ton of networking as well.

BWW: In our preliminary research on you I saw you singing musical theatre rep, and doing plays. Would you like to have a dual career in opera and Theatre?

BH: My heart will always be with the theatre that is where I started. Music and theatre have always been a part of my life. Going back and forward can only help each art form. Now I am focusing on my opera career and I hope in the future there will be opportunities in the theatre for me.

BWW: Who are your musical influences?

BH: Diana Damrau a German soprano I saw her at the Met as Lucia in Lucia di Lamermoor, she was vocally wonderful and captivating and of course there is Audra McDonald and Joyce DiDonato. I admire the career ofMarilyn HorneNina Simone and the vocal licks of Rachelle Ferrell.

BWW: What was the first opera role?

BH: Oh gosh my first opera was SUMMER AND SMOKE by Lee Hoiby and I played the role of Rosa Gonzalez. The strange thing about this is, I performed the play at Davidson and it was so interesting seeing the narrative translate into an opera. I think the music really enhances the story. This moment was very memorable for me because I met Lee Hoiby during production and later that year he passed away.

BWW: Who is your favorite Carmen?

BH: Oh my! This is a tough one. In my research I have watched a ton of different performances but I would have to say that Marilyn Horne‘s Carmen is wonderful. I think from the acting perspective Anna Caterina Antonacci she is riveting to watch super sexy and scary at the same time, vocally I am obsessed with Risë Stevens. I have a bunch of favorites.