Eliot Madore in L’heure espagnole

L’heure espagnole 2012 (Eliot Madore). Photo by Simon Annand

You’re currently making your Glyndebourne Festival debut in a double bill of Ravel’s only two operas. How are you finding the Glyndebourne experience?

Glyndebourne is really a magical place. My first day of rehearsal here it was just so wonderful to see the Glyndebourne landscape, the gardens and the flowers…and the sheep! Everyone is very accommodating and helpful. I couldn’t ask for a better place to make my UK debut.

On 19th August the double bill will simultaneously be streamed live online and screened in cinemas. Have you been part of a live opera broadcast like this before and how does it impact on you as a performer?

I have. I sang Lysander in The Enchanted Island at the Metropolitan Opera in a live broadcast. It’s an interesting experience in the sense that it’s incredibly nerve-wracking but at the same time knowing that you are broadcast live worldwide really gives you a sense of excitement and as an actor it really forces you to be much more subtle as you know that the audience is looking at you from up-close. Singing opera is very physical and so when you know that you have to tone everything down it can be hard, but I think in a sense this new progression to being on film can be very helpful because it forces you to be still and to make all the emotions and feelings more introverted and when you do that I think the results can be quite stunning.

Director Laurent Pelly’s staging of these two operas is very ambitious. How challenging was it for the singers?

It was challenging absolutely. Firstly, physically it was challenging for me to lift those clocks up and go up and down the stairs - that was difficult in and of itself! Laurent really knows what he wants and is very specific and what’s wonderful about him is that he really doesn’t t let up and if he sees that you’re falling just a little bit he really jumps in there and picks you back up. I think everyone really benefited from his energy.

What have you most enjoyed about this experience?

The thing that I enjoyed the most is working with my colleagues. I think they’re just wonderful. The energy they put forth on stage is just fantastic. Walking into rehearsal every day and seeing them, it’s just been a really wonderful experience. The atmosphere is great to work in.

L’heure espagnole is an innuendo-laden farce set in a clock-maker’s shop – how much comedy had you done prior to this role and do you have a preference for either comedy or drama?

As we all know opera can be very serious and there really aren’t that many opportunities to play a comedic role. The only comedy role I’ve played in the past is Figaro in The Barber of Seville. But playing comedy is really a challenge. It’s actually much, much harder to play comedy than it is to be serious; at least that’s what I find! You have to get the timing right and you really can’t try to be funny - you just simply have to be and allow the music and the libretto to flow through you and that’s where the comedy comes from. Ultimately it’s a joy to play.

When did you first start singing opera?

I started singing at 16, 17 or thereabouts. At the time I was studying with Lois McDonall who worked for many years with ENO and she recommended that I audition for a school in the States. I went there and the ball started rolling. I’ve just finished up the Young Artists programme at the MET so this is my first European professional engagement here at Glyndebourne and we’ll see where it takes me.

What’s next for you after Glyndebourne?

I’m going to be moving to Zurich for two years. I’m also very excited that this production is going to be staged in Japan next summer so I’ll be working with Laurent again and some of the other singers which will be wonderful.

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