5 Questions with Stephanie Blythe
Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is back in San Francisco this September starring as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. She kindly gave us some insight into her Mrs. Lovett, her favorite things to do when she's not on stage, and what she will be doing once Sweeney Todd ends (hint: she'll be staying in the area for a few extra days!)
In an interview with The San Diego Reader you said that you originally started out wanting to be a musical theater singer. Do you use a different vocal technique when approaching a musical role as opposed to an operatic role?
I use the same vocal technique for every kind of music that I sing. It isn’t the technique that changes, it is the style that changes. It is the same thing regarding changes between early music and Wagner, for instance. You would not sing those kind of roles with the same style, but the foundation, the technique must remain the same.
Does your inspiration for the role of Mrs. Lovett come from past Mrs. Lovetts or operatic roles you’ve performed?
This is my first try at Mrs. Lovett, and I am having a marvelous time getting to know her! I don’t know if there are operatic roles that I have sung that have exerted some influence over her for me- perhaps there is a little of the kittenish side of L’Italiana, or the mercenary qualities of Amneris… but there are definitely some subtle moments that I have developed that pay homage to some of the English music hall singers that I adore, and a few English comedy character actors that inspire me, like Joan Sims and Elizabeth Spriggs.
What do you do to unwind after a performance?
It all depends. If I have the opportunity, I like to unwind with a quiet meal with friends, but more often than not, I like to go home and cool down with my husband and our dog. Quiet time is pretty sacrosanct for me.
What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?
My favorite thing to do everywhere we go is take to take photos of plant and bird life. And there is plenty of that in San Francisco! I like to spend time by the water- the peace it affords is like nothing else. I love to get in the car with my husband and explore- just take roads we don’t know and see where they lead. There is so much to see here.
What is up next in your busy schedule? Where will you travel after Sweeney Todd?
I will be performing my cabaret show about the great Kate Smith with pianist Craig Terry for Bay Area Cabaret at the Venetian Room on October 4th. It is a show that we dearly love to perform, and we can’t wait to bring it San Francisco! I will be taking part in a wonderful recital evening at USC Thornton School of Music in Pasadena, celebrating the music of my dear friend and collaborator Alan Louis Smith on October 20th. Other highlights of my season will be making my debut at Houston Grand Opera as Nettie in Carousel, and bringing my sing-a-long recital program, “Sing, America!” to Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall in NYC and to the Harris Theater in Chicago.