Lucy catches up with Kelly Glyptis, who is joining the cast of the West End production of Phantom of the Opera from the 1st of August, she will be playing Carlotta, here’s how she is preparing to take on the iconic role.
Let’s start by describing an average day in your life as a professional soprano.
I usually wake up pretty early (around 7am) and will lie in bed for an hour or so before actually getting up; it depends on if I have rehearsals or auditions. The voice takes about 3 hours to wake up after you do, so I always make sure I give myself enough time to really wake up and be ready. I have a small breakfast and a quick check of emails, social media, and remind myself of what my schedule is for the day. I try to go to the gym in the morning to get it out of the way; I am not a gym rat, so I try to distract myself with score study or podcasts to make the time go by quicker. Afterwards, I come home for a shower and a snack of some kind and get myself together. I often teach lessons or film self tapes, but I try to make sure I have time to see people and be social when I can. Then, it’s off to the theatre where I prep my pincurls, do my makeup, warm up, and get ready for the show!
What was the audition process for The Phantom of the Opera like?
It was six auditions plus the initial submission. In my first audition I sang an aria from Un ballo in maschera by Verdi and Nelson from a Day in Hollywood a Night in Ukraine. Then, I had two callbacks with the Carlotta music/sides, a movement call, another callback with the creative staff, and a final call back at Her Majesty’s Theatre where we worked the material in the morning then had the opportunity to perform in front of Sir Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful Group in the afternoon. It was a very long day, but it was incredible to sing on the stage for such pillars of the theater community. The whole process was outstanding; I was met with such kindness and collaboration throughout.
Do you remember the moment you got the call to work on this show? How did it feel?
Oh yes, I was in shock and my whole body was rushing with electricity. I was in a music rehearsal for an opera and waiting for my entrance when I heard my phone buzz. I went to decline the call, but saw it was my manager, so I excused myself to stage management since I had a long wait for my entrance. I answered and told her I was in rehearsal, so couldn’t talk long and she told me the news. I was so shocked that I asked her twice if she had heard wrong. I had to get myself together quite quickly since I needed to sing, but after rehearsal I actually called my manger back and asked her again if I’d really gotten it. I had an hour and a half drive back home and I called my mother in the USA to tell her and try to calm down from it all.
What’s it like to work on such an iconic story and how have you prepared yourself for the role?
It’s truly an honor to step into a production and role that has been so expertly sung by all the incredible women before me. To prepare, I read the novel then went through the score and libretto to make sure I understood fully how the show was inspired. I also researched the history of composers and events of the time and compared what Lord Lloyd Webber had written. If you’re a nerd, like me, you might notice the Lydian mode is used multiple times in the piece which is historically used by Faure and represents magic and romance. Lord Webber is so subtle and genius to sprinkle this in as homage to the time period and the evocation of this mysterious romance. The research and development is one of my favorite parts of the process
Can you describe the character of Carlotta to us, and how have you gone about bringing your own flare to the part?
The music staff and I have been hard at work collaborating to honor the traditions of the piece while allowing me to bring my own nuances and style to the music. We have played around with some dynamic changes and subtle stylistic adjustments to really bring out the incredible text painting. Carlotta is the Prima Donna of the opera and sings all of the leading lady roles. She is a diva, but as a professor at my alma mater once said, “Those divas have earned their furs; they cover the battle scars”.
To that point, I would say the biggest misconception of Carlotta is that she is a villain. She is in fact a woman who has been targeted and attacked for 3 years by this phantom and now her career is in jeopardy. She is so venerable, and it is actually quite inspiring when you think about the fact she is a woman in the 1800’s who is standing up for her safety and job security in a time where women didn’t normally have that agency.
For anyone that doesn’t know the story, can you give us your interpretation of the Phantom of the Opera in a nutshell?
After an incident during a rehearsal, Christine steps up to replace the prima donna, Carlotta. We learn she has been taking voice lessons through the walls of the opera house from a mysterious “angel of music” who later takes her to his underground lair where we find out he is in fact the Phantom of The Opera who has been causing mayhem throughout the opera. She discovers his true character and becomes frightened of the consequences that might occur if she continues to follow his instructions. Christine’s past friend Raul has taken over as patron of the Opera where they are reunited and fall in love. Christine confides in him about the Phantom and her fears and Raul decides to take her away much to the vexation of the Phantom. I won’t give away the ending of course, but that’s basically the nutshell!
Why do you think audiences love this show and story so much / why has it lasted on the West End so long?
I believe this show has a bit of something for everyone. There is magic, romance, danger, truth, spectacle, humor, drama. It has stood the test of time because at its core it is about connections and humanity. The truth of this story is that there is no villain, nor a hero; these characters are flawed humans who are struggling with the basic human need to be loved, met with compassion, accepted, and safe. Although magical and stunning, this show truly holds a mirror to the audience for us to reflect on our own humanity, flaws, and compassion.
How are rehearsals going? And how are you feeling ahead of opening night?
Absolutely splendid! I love the rehearsal process and I feel so supported and prepared for opening. It is such a well-oiled machine and everyone is so professional, prepared, and hard working. It is more rewarding than I could have ever dreamed of.
What song from the iconic score are you most excited to perform?
I’m really looking forward to the il muto scene. I love Mozart and this is so dead on stylistically; it’s so much fun to sing. This, to me, is the scene in Marriage of Figaro between Cherubino and the Countess that we don’t get to see in the opera, but we all want!
And finally, why should people come to see Phantom?
It’s stunning and truthful theater that takes one through the full range of human emotion in 2.5 hours. It’s familiar, like your favorite old book, but fast paced; even if you have seen the show before, there are so many subtleties and nuances that you will discover something new every time. Lastly, it’s just simply a work of art. Every detail in the sets, costumes, wigs, music, choreography is deliberate and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
ABOUT THE SHOW
The Phantom of the Opera plays at Her Majesty’s Theatre – the show is on 8 times a week from Monday – Saturday, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.
From October 3rd 2022 the show schedule will be:
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
You can catch Kelly in the show from August 1st!