by Larry Kellum

Kathleen Hardman, and Kerry Gotschall (Blake Hansen and Adrian Sylveen in the back)

Like a good Scotch and a fine wine, classical music and beautiful women should, and often do, get better with age and the passage of time. Such will be the case proven when the CT Lyric Opera and the CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra present the Connecticut premiere (believe it or not!) of Richard Strauss’ enchanting 1911 “Der Rosenkavalier” throughout the month of November in various venues around the state, launching their 2014-15 season. For those not familiar with this piece, this opera does not have as much comedy or waltzing as the “other Strauss’ ” (Johann) “Die Fledermaus”, but the spirit, fragrance and glamour of old Vienna are all there, and the music is just as gorgeous. The main, mirror-gazing character is the aristocratic Marschallin, who is in love with a younger man (Octavian), who, in turn, falls in love with a younger woman more his own age.
On Oct. 3, music critic Larry Kellum had the pleasure of interviewing the complex Marschallin of these upcoming performances, W. Hartford soprano Kate Callahan-Hardman, who recently came off of a nine year hiatus (due to motherhood of two children) and resumed her career with her passionate performances of Madame Butterfly with this company last season. Ms. Hardman, like hundreds in this industry —- Caballe, Scotto, Arroyo — even Callas herself! — has valiantly agreed to take on the role (almost last minute) as a replacement for another singer who had to abandon the part. A graduate of both Eastman School of Music and Julliard, Hardman’s early days were spent winning many prestigious awards (Jenny Lind Competition, Gerda Lissner Top Prize Competition ,etc) and singing primarily Mozart and smaller roles like Musetta — certainly nothing as daunting as Butterfly or the Marschallin. Here are some highlights of that wonderful conversation………..
Larry Kellum: So, how is it coming along?
Kathleen Callahan-Hardman: Yes, I am cramming, but the hardest part is getting the language and the reflective, bittersweet aspects of the character down. Vocally, it is not a difficult sing…… mezzo colleague Kerry Gotschall (Octavian) has killer high notes and more of them than I do! Working with her is great and our interplay is very comfortable!
LK: Now that your career is in full swing again, any dream roles you’d like to do, or
fantasize about?
KCH: Certainly, Fiordiligi….also, Verdi’s Violetta and Desdemona, and after this
Marschallin, maybe more Strauss, like Arabella.
LK: Any great singers of the past you idolize?
KCH: Leontyne Price, and especially Freni…..all those with the creamier voices!
LK: Have you listened to any of the recordings of past Marschallins?
KCH: Of course, Te Kanawa, and, especially Renee Fleming for the pure legato and musicianship of her voice!
LK: Tell us your take on the Marschallin.
KCH: Strauss wrote beautifully for her and he never makes her show her underbelly. One must be eternally graceful in this role. She, like all women, is fighting against time, but it is more about how you feel than how you look, and this is what must come across. At 41, I am actually a little older than she is (supposedly mid-30’s).
LK: Yes, so often this part is casted with aging divas at the end of their long careers who look, sound, and actually are, in their late 50’s, and this shouldn’t be the case.
LK: After this run, what comes next?
KCH: Butterfly’s last May! I am so grateful for the opportunities Adrian (maestro Sylveen) has given me in my career and with this company!
LK: Well, when your Marschallin looks in that mirror, don’t reach for the wrinkle cream…………… won’t need it! We are all eager for these performances!
KCH: Thank-you!
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