Last year I attended my first opera and it was an incredible experience. I loved being able to dress up in my most glamorous ensemble and flit through the lobby with the surreal feeling that I was embarking on a cruise with the cast of Titanic. The theater itself is magnificent and marries up-to-the-minute technology with well-preserved historical ambience. I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the cast members and backstage players of this year’s opera season in the sunlit courtyard outside of the Sarasota Opera House, and I found out some fascinating and revealing tidbits which I plan to share with you over the next few weeks. I encourage you to get to know the people behind these mesmerizing productions and then treat yourself to a life-changing experience by watching them at work at the Opera House.
The first show of the season is Carmen by Georges Bizet beginning on February 11. Carmen is brought to life this season by the incredibly talented Fredrika Brillembourg, so I believe it is only fitting to begin our "Get to Know the Opera" series with my interview with Fredrika.
Fredrika hails from New York and is as stylish and interesting as you would expect an opera singer from New York to be. As it turns out, Fredrika is also a bit of a foodie …
The Dining Diva: What is your favorite food from home?
Fredrika Brillembourg: I love Italian food and my favorite Italian restaurant in New York is da Umberto. I’ve been living in Berlin and my favorite restaurant in Berlin is Little Otik in Kreuzberg, which is run by two Americans who utilize organic ingredients and the nearby Turkish markets in their menu.
DD: What are your favorite places to eat in Sarasota?
FB: I really enjoyed MoZaic, especially the blue crab "two ways" and the duck leg confit. For Italian I like Café Americano and Café Epicure. The salad bar at Whole Foods is a go-to for lunch and I love the margaritas at Tommy Bahama's.
DD: Where would you like to travel that you have not already been?
FB: I spent some time in Cape Town, South Africa and it was amazing. The scenery and the food were wonderful. I would like to return to Africa and see more of the country.
DD: What do you enjoy about playing Carmen?
FB: Carmen is a fascinating character: she is a strong female in both literature and opera, and her behavior is considered to be shocking in a lot of ways. She is timeless and the part is challenging because everyone has an idea of what she should be like---it’s fun to embody her.
DD: Do you Karaoke?
FB: As an opera singer, Karaoke is frowned upon because it can strain your vocal cords. I do love to listen to strong female singers like Adele and Christina Aguilera.