In just a few seasons, Kristine Opolais has become one of opera’s most in-demand sopranos. This month, she stars in a new Manon Lescaut at the Met.

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut is a singing actress’s dream, as it traces the heroine’s development from a naïve country teenager to a spoiled, nouveau riche party girl, then to a woman who finally matures emotionally too late to save herself. Kristine Opolais, one of the most in-demand sopranos in the opera world, is preparing to star in the Richard Eyre production of Manon Lescaut that opens on February 12—the first new Met production of the work since 1980.

Opolais has already carved out a distinctive place for herself in Met history: in 2014, the Latvian soprano followed a Friday-evening performance of Madama Butterfly with a Saturday matinée as Mimì in La Bohème, never having rehearsed on the set. Among the world’s top Puccini sopranos, she is often the first to be called.
Opolais’s husband is Latvian conductor Andris Nelsons, the popular music director of the Boston Symphony. When I met her for a conversation last August at her hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts, she was preparing to perform a concert at the Tanglewood Music Festival, the BSO’s summer home. Nelsons’s position with the BSO would seem to promise a chance for the couple to spend considerable time together in 2016, as the soprano’s winter/spring schedule at the Met puts her just 190 miles away from her husband for about sixteen weeks.

“From the beginning,” says Opolais, in her lightly accented English, “I was little bit careful to start career together, because I want to accomplish myself—as a soprano, Kristine Opolais, as an artist, a personality. And Andris has his way. Normally, people think, ‘Okay, the husband—of course he brings his wife.’ I wanted to be someone who they were happy to see, not just ‘Okay.’ Now it’s really something special. And we want to spend more time together now, because of our daughter, Adriana. Andris and I have a little bit different repertoire in opera. When we started in Latvian National Opera, we had Puccini together. This was our love. In the international opera stages, especially in the last years, Andris has a lot of Wagner and Strauss, which is too early for me. I am very careful about this repertoire. In the last four years, we had only two times together—La Bohème in Berlin and Butterfly in Covent Garden, when I made my debut in 2011. And some concerts. And that’s it. In the future, we have some plans, finally, also for opera.”

Read the entire feature here.

Image: Kristian Schuller for Opera News