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Monday, Jan. 24, 2011

Singing the Praises of Susan Wiedmeyer

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Sure, she sings in six languages with a tear-jerking soprano and recently released her first album as part of the trio In One A Chord, but Susan Wiedmeyer is the antithesis of a young diva. You may have seen her on stage with Skylight Opera Theatre in The Pirates of Penzance, The Marriage of Figaro and, most recently, the comic operetta H.M.S. Pinafore. You can catch her next in Meditations on Arion with Milwaukee Opera Theatre this April.

Isn't it challenging to sing in those elaborate costumes, especially with a corset?


Yes, corsets are probably the most difficult costume piece I've come across yet! To dance and sing corseted is something that takes practice. I do, however, try to see corsets as a way to just remind myself to breathe more, since you can pretty much feel every breath you take.

Have you always wanted to be an opera singer?


I have always wanted to be a singer/performer. As a child, I was inspired by The Little Mermaid. I always enjoyed creating my own songs and singing them at the top of my lungs around the house. I think the door that eventually led to opera was musical theater. I instantly fell in love with The Phantom of the Opera. I don't know what it was—maybe the costumes, the big sets, the characters. Something about it just made me think that I'd want to perform someday.

How many performances do you have under your corset and what was your favorite role?


Four operas, five operettas and seven musicals. My favorite role was Eurydice in Orpheus in the Underworld. She is a heartless character—devious and larger than life—who leaves her husband for Pluto and ends up in Hades. There is something appealing about playing a bad girl.

What is going through your mind when you're on stage?


When I'm on stage, I listen. I try to hear the dialogue and music as if it were the first time I was experiencing it. I react to everything just as my character would.

What is your dream role?

Olympia in Les Contes d'Hoffmann. How often does one have the opportunity to play something that isn't a human character?

Name some of the crazy things you do to keep your voice in tiptop shape.


I have a personal steamer that I use to hydrate my vocal folds, and during shows I eat oranges and drink ginger tea. I'm still trying to convince myself to use a Neti pot.

Do you ever do karaoke?


Not really. I always choose the boring slow ballads that no one wants to hear!