Andrea DelGiudice is an operatic polymath who boasts a dizzying array of talents, skills and passions. Beyond her vibrant career as an Italianate lirico-spinto soprano, DelGiudice has quickly gained recognition as an acclaimed opera stage director, dramaturg, voice teacher and consultant. Her most recent project was the world premiere of Pieta, composed by Jake Landau, with DelGiudice as the libretto’s co-collaborator. The Narnia Festival premiered the first staged production, and the film version of the piece garnered multiple awards, including Best Musical Documentary at the People’s Film Festival in New York City. In 2022, DelGiudice will direct the Pietà and Suor Angelica as a double bill at Axelrod Performing Arts Center. Andrea recently took time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts on the art and the business of opera in the twenty-first century.
How did your career as a singer inform your approach to directing?
In my career I have had the opportunity to assume some of opera’s greatest roles for soprano. The Puccini heroines (although this is a strange word), were at the heart of my work. In my process of developing the character, the work was almost exclusively mine. Very few of my directors actually sat down and discussed those moments in the libretto that did not make sense or felt contrary to what I would have done as a woman in that situation. I spend hours with my singers discussing who they are, how the music informs their emotional choices, and their relationship to the other characters. In my productions, the women come from a particular set of circumstances and their life choices and resilience are at the heart of the story. I want the input of the singers and their own experiences as we explore and tell the true story of these women.
Could you describe your process as a collaborator when you are co-writing an opera or serving as a consultant?
I try to evoke my expertise in whatever area is needed. As a consultant, I often weigh in on the “vocal” needs of the singer in telling the story when working with a composer. For example, tessitura and text must match the needs of that particular voice type. I also continuously clarify who we are talking about, what brought this woman to where she is at this point in her life, and would she express herself in a particular way for a reason? These questions drive my creative process and lead to a collaborative discussion.
Could you describe your research and preparation process like for the opera productions you direct?
I am an avid researcher. Both in books and current events; many of which are repeated stories or conditions, affecting women’s lives. These discoveries address women’s lives and the need for change. My most recent example was my discovery of Catherine Corlis, a researcher in Tuam Ireland, who uncovered the horrific truth of the Home for Mothers and babies run by a sect of Catholic nuns and the imprisonment of young pregnant girls imprisoned in these institutions and later torn away from their children never to be reunited. The continuing facts are even more horrifying, and I could not stop researching until I understood and could draw from these women’s experiences and actually honor them by integrating and creating my story of Pieta & Suor Angelica to tell their stories.
Of all the different professional hats you wear, which is your favorite and why?
This is an impossible question for me, because all the hats actually make me who I am! Brene Brown, one of my favorite researchers and inspirational women in my life has said, “it is the slash career which truly brings us to who we truly are, culminating in all that we have lived and learned.” My life as a voice teacher is at the center of my life. I adore my students and I am so fortunate to have a very active studio with students singing in large international venues. My directing, dramaturgy and vocal consulting have become a very new and busy part of my life in the past five years. I am so looking forward to what the future has to bring and continuing to find new women’s stories I am compelled to tell.
Andrea currently resides in New York City and is represented by Kathy Olsen at Encompass Arts Management.