Conversation: Rachele Gilmore
March / April 2011
She might rock out to Led Zeppelin and The Beatles off stage, but this opera phenom’s high-octave power plays have been bringing audiences to their knees around the world.
Most people don’t just wake up one morning and decide to be opera superstars. For Rachele Gilmore, 29, her small-town Georgia dreams have led her into a career as an internationally renowned performer. But she’s taking fame in stride—and counting her lucky stars for the chances she’s been given. Returning to Knoxville April 8 for the Knoxville Opera’s presentation of I Puritani (she debuted as the title character in Lucia di Lammermoor last year), this soprano coloratura will be wowing audiences once again with her vocal talent.
When did you know that you had a gift for opera?
In grade school and throughout high school I was in musical theater, and I had a really good and encouraging choir director in high school. My teacher introduced me to classical art song,
and that’s really when I started to fall in love with the classical style of singing.
Take us through a day in your life.
Like when I’m rehearsing for the Elvira role [in I Puritani]?
It’s a very time-consuming role, so I have to be at rehearsal every single day for a full six hours. On a day like that, I try to spend an hour before rehearsal warming up my voice or going through key parts of the role. And then I go to rehearsal, but I wouldn’t necessarily sing the whole time. As singers, we can really only sing for three hours a day at the most.
When you’re not working, do you listen to opera?
I actually like classic rock. I love Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, stuff like that. There are a few contemporary people I listen to, but there’s nothing that I’m super passionate about.
OK, you’re not into pop music, but do you watch American Idol?
I love American Idol. I’m totally hooked on it. There’s something about it, and I guess because it’s sort of what I do, putting myself out there on display, it’s so interesting to watch other people do it..
Yeah, but unlike the contestants on that show, when you get on stage you know you’re going to be good.
[Laughs]. An older soprano who’s a really good friend of mine once told me that you’re only as good as your last performance, and that’s something that I constantly try and think about. No matter how much recognition you gain, you always have to keep yourself grounded with the realization that you are a
product and you need to deliver.
Well you’ve delivered all over the world—the Met, all over Europe. Do you ever just sit back and think, “OK, I’ve made it.”?
I guess I’m just so critical of myself and I’m constantly trying to be better that I don’t really take the time to realize the situation that I’m in. I can definitely appreciate how fortunate I am to be doing what I love and singing for so many different audiences. It’s not something I think about on a daily basis, because I’m constantly trying to improve myself and look towards the next project.