American soprano Heidi Stober makes her role debut as the innocent, but resilient Magnolia Hawks in Show Boat
. Heidi made her San Francisco Opera debut in the 2010-11 Season as Sophie in Werther
and has since returned as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro
, Atalanta in Xerxes
, Pamina in The Magic Flute
and Nannetta in Falstaff
. Currently a principal artist at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Heidi took time out of her busy performance schedule to answer our five questions. Take a look and be sure to catch her thrilling performance in Show Boat
at San Francisco Opera this summer.
This is your role debut as Magnolia Hawks in Show Boat. Can you describe how the process has been?
The process has been amazing and exciting It's been a wonderful chance to work on a lot of dialogue, explore vocally a new style of music for me, have a unique opportunity to learn and grow with choreography for a couple numbers, learn the guitar for the first time. etc. I did a lot of prep work before arriving in San Francisco on each of these areas and the rehearsal process has been so enjoyable. It's such fun going to work every day!
In addition to learning the vocals for this new role, you also had to learn choreography. Can you describe how you started the process?
My audition for Magnolia was a dance and dialogue audition and it became clear to me the different way in which I would have to process movement/choreography in combination with singing. I had some dance sessions in NYC in December during my run of The Magic Flute with Michele's assistant Eric, and it was an important head start to the process of combining both my body and voice. I definitely think more about my movements than my voice in those scenes, but I'm thankful how organic it now feels.
The cast mixes both operatic and musical artists. One of which is Bill Irwin, who will be playing your father Cap’n Andy Hawks in Show Boat. How has it been working with Bill?
Heidi Stober (Magnolia Hawks) with dancers.
It is a dream to be working with Bill. I'm not quite sure how I got so lucky! He is such a generous, kind, supportive colleague. Bill is simply an incredible actor, and to have this unbelievable opportunity to learn from him and watch him work every day... well, I'm in awe and feel tremendously blessed. It's a great dynamic and energy working with Bill -- and truly with everyone in the cast. A very special group of artists.
Heidi Stober (Magnolia Hawks), Patricia Racette (Julie La Verne),
You travel with your young son. How has it been juggling your busy rehearsal and performance schedule?
Angela Renee Simpson (Queenie) and Morris Robinson (Joe) with chorus and dancers
Henry and I traveled here from Berlin -- first time without the help of my husband -- and I have to say, Henry is a great 13 month old traveler. He has been traveling internationally since he was 2 and a half months old. I have a dear friend here helping me for a few weeks and I absolutely could not do it without her. Again (I don't want to be redundant), I am beyond blessed to have this little boy who brings me so much joy and happiness and this career that brings me such fulfillment and pleasure.
Heidi Stober (Magnolia Hawks) and Michael Todd Simpson (Gaylord Ravenal)
And, if you have any free time in San Francisco do have any favorite places to visit, restaurants or parks?
Muir Woods, Golden Gate Park, Baker Beach, Point Reyes. . . The Ice Cream Bar -- yum!
Photos by Cory Weaver.