Performing the titular role of Carmen in our upcoming production is Mezzo-Soprano Anna Pflieger. She recently took some time from her busy performance and rehearsal schedule to answer a few questions. Read on to learn all about her fascinating journey to our stage.
Q: Who is the most famous person you've met in person?
A: I have had the opportunity to meet many famous classical singers over the past twenty years including Mirella Freni, Carol Neblett, Vladimir Chernov, Anna Netrekbo, Rolando Villazon, and Christine Goerke to name a few. More importantly, I’d like to touch on the most influential person I’ve had the honor of meeting and working with, my beloved teacher and mentor, Claudine Carlson. I have always said that anything I do well, I owe to her, and any faults in my singing are entirely of my own making. She fostered my love for music in times when my passion felt dim and taught me strength through musical discipline and artistry. My soul lies in music and this amazing woman remains my guide in preserving beloved masterworks, sincere interpretation and vocal honesty. I hope one day to do her proud.
Q: Did you have a rough patch in your career?
A: In my early twenties I was diagnosed with stage three cancer. I lost five years of good health and operatic training due to my condition and subsequent treatment. Those critical five years, while the majority of my colleagues were transitioning from masters and young artist programs to mainstage, I was rebuilding my body, mind and instrument. My career was entirely derailed but I was later able to return to competiton, stage and music with a stronger conviction than ever, greater purpose and profound inner knowledge; actualization of self. For a singer, few losses are more painful than losing your authentic form of self and communication. Lucky for me, I know just the place that can help me express, share and heal such emotions, the operatic stage!
Q: What is your opera dream role?
A: My heart lies in the dramatic Verdian and Wagnerian repertoire. The first dream role (of many) that comes to mind is Eboli from Verdi’s Don Carlo.
Q: What is the most challenging thing you have ever done in your life?
A: Following my remission from cancer in 2013, I was hit by three different drivers in Los Angeles in auto accidents resulting in multiple injuries. I refer to this time period as my dark decade. I eventually healed my body, further strengthened my mind and doubled down on getting my broken self back to where I belonged, on stage. Returning to the operatic circuit in a new, larger body, with a new, larger voice, not to mention a track record of being M.I.A. for years was truly petrifying. I would shake with anxiety prior to auditions, having been so out of practice singing anywhere else than the safety of my beloved teacher’s warm and inviting studio. My first audition back, I felt my entire body freeze the second the accompanist began playing Tacea la notte placida. It felt like a death march, frozen in time. I recognized on a subconscious level, that not singing would be far worse than pushing through this newfound stage fright. So, I sang and I sang well. This may not sound like a challenge or feat compared to climbing a tall peak, or fighting injustice, but for a young singer who had lost a lot, her hope, her passion and her purpose, in that singular moment, I felt proud of myself.
Q: What was the moment you realized you wanted to become an opera singer?
A: I was fourteen years old sitting in diction class on a Friday afternoon when my teacher popped in a VHS of Le Nozze di Figaro starring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. As a former drama and choir kid who loved jazz and had difficulty palating musical theatre, it was a revelation watching my first opera. This art form offered everything I could ever want, from the challenging music and vocal style, to the elaborate costumes and theatrical staging. I fell in love, and I fell hard and fast. Looking back, against all logic and reason, I can openly admit that I was born an opera singer.
Q: What was your most glorious moment, or what would you consider the high point of your career?
A: Debuting in the title role of Carmen with Pacific Lyric Association will truly be the highlight of my career to date. To discover this character in a collaborative and artistically nurturing environment that PLA creates surrounded by tremendous talent and kind-hearted colleagues, it’s nothing short of magical. I hope I can do her (Carmen) justice. Bizet be with me.
About Anna Pflieger
Anna Pflieger, dramatic mezzo-soprano, is an award-winning vocal artist recognized for her arresting vocal timbre and bold stage presence.
Ms. Pflieger’s most recent engagements include: 2022 Wagner Society of Southern California Wesendonck Lieder Soloist, Pacific Lyric Association title role debut as Carmen in Bizet’s Carmen, LAKMA Symphony Beethoven Symphony No.9 Alto Soloist Walt Disney Concert Hall, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater Alto Soloist, Mozart Requiem Alto Soloist, 2021 Opera West! debut as Cio-Cio-San’s Mother in Puccini's Madama Butterfly, 2020 VOPA debut as Marthe in Gounod’s Faust, CSUN Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 Alto Soloist.
Recent honors include: 2021 Palm Springs Opera Guild Vocal Competition semi-finalist, 2020 Mentoris Voice Vocal Competition finalist and encouragement award recipient, 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Western Region semi-finalist and encouragement awardrecipient, 2019 Burbank Philharmonic Hennings-Fischer Young Artist Competition finalist, The Opera Buffs Inc., Artist Grant Award recipient, and first place recipient of the 2019 Bell T. Ritchie Award.
Ms. Pflieger serves as co-founder of Artists Coalition of Los Angeles, a non-profit organization advancing classical arts and culture, and is an alumnus of NYU Tisch, Pepperdine University, International Lyric Academy of Rome and Idyllwild Arts Academy. She currently prepares roles under the guidance of Claudine Carlson and William Vendice. She particularly enjoys singing the works of Verdi, Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Wagner and looks forward to embracing this repertoire for years to come.
Anna Pflieger is based in Los Angeles and is available for engagements worldwide.