Corinne Winters, who sings Micaela in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis's new Carmen this month, says she loves roles "where I can wear my heart on my sleeve. I like singing things that allow the audience to feel what I'm feeling, and that allow me to feel that there's no separation — no walls — between me and the audience." The Maryland-born beauty graduated from Towson University and Peabody Conservatory before attending AVA, where she acquired a reputation as a singer of rare potency in a range of roles that extended from Strauss's Arabella to Hester Prynne in the world premiere of Margaret Garwood's The Scarlet Letter.
The impact of everything Winters sings is intensified by the warm blush of color in her lyric soprano, and by her keen attention to text — virtues that were distinct advantages when she sang Tchaikovsky's Iolanta at Dicapo Opera in December 2011. Her natural radiance and vulnerability were also affecting as Debussy's Mélisande at OTSL last season. "That job came on short notice, because Kelly Kaduce had bowed out. When I got the offer for Mélisande, it was just as Arabella was in rehearsals at AVA in early winter — and I showed up for Pelléas in May. So in the middle of singing a Strauss opera I was learning Debussy, which was quite an experience, especially knowing that I was filling the shoes of a fabulous singing actress like Kelly. But AVA taught me that you have to be on your toes and have done your own work before you get to rehearsal. I've found that most directors and conductors would much rather disagree with your ideas than have to feed you things because you've arrived at the first rehearsal a blank slate and have prepared nothing. There's give-and-take, of course, but it's important to come into the process with ideas."
After her St. Louis run in Carmen ends, Winters heads for Wolf Trap and Anne Trulove in The Rake's Progress in August. Next season brings Violetta in a new La Traviata at ENO. "That's a role that I hope will be a staple in my repertoire, and I'm lucky that I have a circle of wonderful people that I can go to and say, 'What do you think? I'm not sure about this.' If you are going to be a singer, you need to figure out who you are and what you do best. In operas like Traviata or La Bohème or Iolanta or Roméo et Juliette — which I would love to do — or Manon, there's glamour and all of that, but there's a sense of heart to those women. I believe that's my strength — communicating that."
F. PAUL DRISCOLL