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PHOTO: DARIO ACOSTA


be credible as a performer. Being a large person doesn’t sell. There are a few instances when a great tal- ent rises above the weight, but the chances are low. How did you achieve it? It was fast, not a slow burn. I went


on an intense diet, just eating very well, with almost no carbohydrates – I didn’t go completely Atkins – and I stopped drinking. I started walking every day, four or five miles, and I became a runner. Nine months later it was completely gone. Do you use the same skills when


you’re learning a big role in opera? Yeah, I think they’re interdiscipli-


nary skills. I debated at school too. For an opera singer it’s not just learn- ing a tune. There are rules on every measure of music that we sing – go faster, go slower, sing louder, sing quieter, then often there are things in parentheses that give alternatives. My mission is to know the entire blueprint of what we’re performing. Then I can refer first to the blueprint and second to what I feel. If I haven’t studied the music, well enough, I can’t bring enough to the table. When someone suggests some-


thing to me that’s counter to the music – a gesture or a movement, something that goes squarely against what’s written – I can say, this is what’s in the score, here’s what I believe I’m saying and thinking, so compel me why I should do some- thing that’s against in the score. If I didn’t have that knowledge I’d just be another pawn on the chessboard – and I’m never going to be a pawn! Sometimes theater directors


set Shakespeare in unlikely time periods or delete chunks of text. Is opera sometimes like that? You’re hitting the nail on the head.


My philosophy is, if you have a Monet, you don’t throw green paint on it just


The American 53


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