When did you start singing?
We have a recording of me when I was three singing La via dolorosa, complete with background track. So it's safe to say, I think, since I was a toddler.
Why did you start singing?
My whole family sings, and my mother in particular is very gifted. So it was a way to bond with everyone as we grew up, harmonizing along with the radio. And as I grew to find I had a knack for it, it made me feel special because it garnered praise and encouragement, something all kids need when they are discovering their talents!
Which singer inspired you most when you were young?
When I was young, as in…before opera, I was inspired by Mariah Carey. To me there has never been a greater pop singer. I try to sing her songs at Karaoke, but I fail miserably.
Which singer do you most admire?
Callas, Gobbi, Devia, all for different reasons. There are many more, the list keeps growing because every artist has something unique that I admire in them!
What's your favourite role?
What role have you never played but would have liked to?
Sophie in Rosenkavalier, but I think I missed the train on that one.
What's your favourite opera to watch?
I like Il trittico; that counts as 3! I also love Tosca, Aida, and The Ring Cycle.
Who is your favourite composer?
Who is your favourite writer?
Who is your favourite theatre or film director?
I like Stanley Kubrick. And Hitchcock.
Who is your favourite actor?
Film: Bette Davis. Opera: Tito Gobbi.
Who is your favourite dancer?
What is your favourite book?
East of Eden by John Steinbeck.
What is your favourite film?
Wuthering Heights starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche.
Which is your favourite city?
What do you like most about yourself?
I can see the beauty in everything.
What do you dislike about yourself?
I care what others think.
What was your proudest moment?
When I was invited to join the Lindemann Program at the Met.
When and where were you happiest?
I am always happy and in fact joy is always increasing in my life. But the most sublime moment ever was when I got married to my love, Steven.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wonderful husband. I guess I told you that already.
What is your greatest fear?
Walking across a frozen lake or pond, then falling through the ice and getting sucked under by the current.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I'm working on this one: I want to be less passive and just ask for what I want. In some cases, just STATE what I want. But this behavior often can be interpreted as bitchy.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Running a marathon the day after I sang a big role premiere. That was in Pittsburgh in 2015!
What is your most treasured possession?
My flute. I played all through high school and some college and really wanted to be a professional, before singing became my true calling.
What is your greatest extravagance?
A sparkly pair of Jimmy Choo shoes and a Louis Vuitton bag that I bought years ago and I don't even use because it's made of leather and now I'm vegan. And if I ever fly first class there has to be a very good reason otherwise I feel guilty or like I don't belong there. But I do love the drinks.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Stop waiting for things to happen. Take an active role in life because if you spend all your time expecting and waiting around for things, and they don't pan out, you will wind up bitter and blaming someone else.
On what occasion do you lie?
Actually I am terrible at lying. I got in trouble a lot for it when I was a kid so nowadays I'm just not a dishonest person… another thing I like about myself, I take responsibility for things, even when it makes me look bad. I have been told I'm honest to a fault – but I think people can handle the truth, and would rather hear it. But I don't give it unless it's my place to dish it… or they ask.
If you hadn't been a singer what would you have liked to be?
What is your most marked characteristic?
My gummy smile and my bug eyes – I hate them.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
A friend who remains a friend even when time goes by and distance gets in the way.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
I like singers who look in my eyes and connect with me when we are onstage. We all have doubts about ourselves, our singing, our performance… but if we bring them onstage with us, the audience can sense it, and sometimes our colleagues suffer. It is better to try to be completely present in every scene.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
Which living person do you most admire?
I like women who excel in positions of leadership.
What do you most dislike?
Men who have problems with women in positions of leadership.
What talent would you most like to have?
Athletics. I'm actually a terrible athlete. But I do run a lot.
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
A long hike on a crisp fall day in Oregon with the leaves turning colours and afterwards a pumpkin latte that I don't have to worry about because it's vegan.
How would you like to die?
What is your motto?
No good deed goes unpunished. But that doesn't keep me from trying!
Keep up with Lisette Oropesa on her site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.