Hi there! Welcome to my blog! My name is Estarah Berciunas and I am an operatic soprano based in Kansas City. I’m so glad you made it to my page and have decided to join me on my journey of learning Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and creating, developing, and becoming Juliette. My desire is to share my process and journey of creating this role. I want to let you in on all the artistry and academia that goes into creating opera, and specifically a role.
Through my studies at KU and UMKC, I have been blessed with the opportunity to sing and perform many different roles. Whether I was the panicked nursing sister (Suor Infermiera in Puccini’s Suor Angelica), the nagging bat (Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges), the sassy maid and aspiring actress (Adele from J. Strauss’ Die Fledermaus), or the young lover who has her daddy wrapped around her finger (Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicci), each role has taught me so much about singing, acting, the art of opera, and myself.
Although those experiences helped me to grow in so many ways, I always walked away from the stage after the last performance wishing I had done more to become that specific character. I knew that I could have done more to bring that character to life and share their story with the audience. I have realized that the challenge of learning a role, keeping up with a full course load, working full time, and managing to have some sort of healthy personal and social life can get pretty hectic!
Juliette will be my first professional opportunity outside of the academic world and graduate school. I will be singing in Lawrence Opera Theatre’s production later this summer! I am so excited and looking forward to finding the time and space to fully research the story of Romeo and Juliet and explore who Juliette really is. I am eager to learn the music and story with a depth, clarity and focus that I haven’t before.
As I learn this role, I will be documenting my work, research, practice and the study of this work and this character. My hope is to give you a behind the scenes glimpse of what it’s like to be a part of the art of opera. Most people would say they view an opera performance as a single event or product, but I want to share the process of opera. The work that happens behind the scenes is just as, if not more, important than the final production. From my own experiences seeing operas, it’s a much more satisfying and engaging experience when I know the whole story, a little detail about the characters, and maybe even some history about the opera itself or even the composer. Knowing just a little more information helps the story come to life and the music seems even more magical.
We will explore all different aspects of this opera and the process of creating Juliette together. In each post, I will share what I have worked on for that particular day, what I discovered, and how it informs my characterization and performance of Juliette. I will dive into musical analysis, historical context, literary content and more.
Check out my next post for more detail and description of all the different categories I will be exploring and researching!