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Sound Bites





A soprano from Illinois sings Donna Anna
at Opera Columbus this month.


MEGHAN KASANDERS, whose opulent soprano recalls the voice of Eleanor Steber, says she grew up listening to “anything but opera. Aretha Franklin was my idol, and my thing was musical theater, which I loved. When I was in high school, we did How to Succeed and Into the Woods- I was Smitty and the Baker’s Wife- and those shows were so wonderful! I didn’t begin to think about opera until I went to Simpson College. I thought I was a low mezzo or alto, and I had no idea who Renée Fleming was back then. Then, in my sophomore year, I did Fiordiligi- in English, because we did everything in English. And that changed things!”


Kasanders studied for her master’s degree at Rice University and received her artist’s diploma from The Juilliard School, where she “concentrated on putting together acting and singing- that’s what Juilliard does so incredibly well.” Kasanders’s most notable assignment was in Emma Griffin’s 2019 staging of Don Giovanni, in which OPERA NEWS’s Oussama Zahr deemed her Donna Anna “the undisputed diva of the evening [who] let her voice fly to thrilling effect.”


Now twenty-nine, Kasanders has long-term goals to take on Wagner and Richard Strauss heroines. “My dream role so far has been Magda Sorel [in Menotti’s The Consul], which I sang at Opera Saratoga in 2018. But the roles at the very top of my wish list are Sieglinde [Die Walküre] and Ariadne, in Ariadne auf Naxos. Richard Strauss is my favorite composer, and his Ariadne especially attracts me because of the contrast between the prologue and the opera proper- it’s so quirky. And I would love the chance to sing opera with my full voice and do comedy at the same time.” 


In January 2020, Kasanders sang in a master class as part of Renée Flemeing’s SongStudio at Carnegie Hall and performed a Fleming specialty, Rachmoninoff’s “Dreams.” “Renée Fleming is the most down-to-earth person ever. She communicates in such a fantastic way, with such a wonderful vocabulary. She doesn’t tell you what to do, exactly–she listens to you and gives you extra things to think about. Rachmaninoff is so tricky. Almost every song of his is a miniature opera, so it was important to work with Renée on lightening my sound and letting the music do its work.” 

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