Lindsay Conrad has been in La Bohème twice before – once in the chorus, and once as Musetta. Learning the role of Marcello (which is written in the bass clef) has been difficult but rewarding to learn, according to Lindsay. She also has some great insight into Marcello from her experience playing Musetta. Here’s how she’s approaching the flip side of this passionate relationship.
MWO: How has your past performance of Musetta influenced your interpretation of Marcello?
LINDSAY: You know, it’s really interesting to play your love opposite in a show. It’s like being able to see both sides of a relationship. [Musetta and Marcello] are similar in many ways, and their relationship is passionate, deep and sometimes weird. It’s easy to see why they get together, but I’m learning much more about the deep-rooted problems they have, too. Musically, [having sung Musetta] has made the role of Marcello a bit easier to learn – knowing Musetta’s part is a big advantage in learning and memorizing the back and forth line play between the two.
MWO: How do you see Marcello?
LINDSAY: I feel like I know Marcello – like, I think I dated Marcello in my early twenties. She’s that artsy person that is introspective and pensive when alone or with close friends, but can then be charismatic, flirty and command a room. Her only match in this regard is Musetta. I think Marcello’s very kind, generous and has a big heart. She sees herself as a “ringmaster” of sorts with her group of friends. She’s Rodolfo’s best friend, but also a kind-of her big sister. In the end, I think the death of Mimi is just as hard on her as it is on Rodolfo.
MWO: How do collaborate with Rebecca Krouner (also Marcello) in creating your character?
LINDSAY: Rebecca has been a fantastic double-cast mate in this role. We constantly trade ideas about the character, and we take a lot from each other. And she’s the best for a memorizing pal! Obviously, neither of us has performed this role before, so the newness of it has been really refreshing. We also often joke about how Marcello is the hardest working supporting character in opera.
MWO: Do you have a favorite moment in the opera?
LINDSAY: If I had to name one, I think it’s the moment right after Quando m’en vo leading up to Marcello and Musetta getting back together in the second act. Everyone’s onstage, almost everyone is singing, and you have all these different lines and thoughts coming out from all the characters. The music is glorious, and the energy in that section is so palpable.
MWO: What’s special about an all-female cast?
LINDSAY: Everything is special about an all-female cast! The biggest thing that has stuck out to me is being able to play a role originally written for man. As I started working on this role, and we started staging, I felt so liberated in my character. I realized that I don’t recall ever being on stage with 3 other women (like in Act 1), and having a discussion that didn’t revolve around a man. There are lines and phrases I say in this opera that, as a soprano, I’ve never been able to say or sing. Being able to be powerful without being sexual, or vulnerable without being weak has been a new experience for me – and I like it! This is important for us to perform, and important for people to see. My hope is that after 10 minutes, you’ll forget that it’s an all-female production, and just see people being people: excited, sad, flawed and just human.