SOPRANO Emma Matthews has gone mad – all for the sake of her beloved art.
The Perth-raised, Sydney-based opera star is set to perform the lead role of Lucia in West Australian Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor, a tragic love story of two feuding families that sees Lucia lose her mind and murder the man she is forced to marry.
So engrossed is Matthews in the damaging drama of Gaetano Donizetti’s opera that she is often unable to disconnect from her unhinged character.
“During a six-hour rehearsal, if somebody shouts at me and it’s directed at Emma rather than Lucia, I’ll start crying,” she told Community.
“You can’t play Lucia and be cut off from her; you have to feel her pain.
“I ‘go there’ with all the characters I do.”
No more apparent is this character immersion than in the opera’s famed ‘mad scene’.
“Lucia comes down the stairs and enters a room full of guests on her wedding night after having murdered her husband with this crazy look and glass that comes over her eyes,” she said.
“When I last did the role (in 2008 for Opera Australia), I had to fall down backwards at the end of the stairs and whacked my head every time but never felt it because of the adrenalin and ‘the place’ I went to.
“The emotions are so heightened.”
In her first year out of WAAPA, Matthews landed her maiden professional engagement with Opera Australia and carved out a multi award-winning career, including a stint at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden.
But it is the role of Lucia – made famous by the late Dame Joan Sutherland – that has consumed every ounce of her creative being.
“I did it last time with Dame Joan’s husband, conductor Richard Bonynge, who has been a significant mentor, so to do this role with him after it was such a signature role for Dame Joan was very difficult but amazing as I now have it in my being,” she said.
“I will also perform the role in other productions in Sydney and Melbourne, so I’m going to be permanently crazy for the rest of the year!”
What: WA Opera’s Lucia di Lammermoor
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: July 14-21
Tickets: BOCS Ticketing.