The main actress Stacey Alleaume in La Traviata
When Stacey Alleaume first sang Violetta, one of Verdi’s most beautiful and tragic roles, she took the stage with four hours’ notice. It was 2017 and the young soprano was a member of Opera Australia’s Young Artists Programme.
“I had to go to a rehearsal of Carmen on the port and I received a call: “Stacey, we need you to come and do the matinee”, recalls Alleaume. She had only had two cover rehearsals, the last one a month earlier, and instantly had to “become the star, because she has to carry the show from start to finish”.
She rushed to the theatre. Time passed in a blur of checking his movements in the busy first act, meeting the tenor for the first time in the conductor’s room, singing the cadenzas, a wardrobe fitting, then suddenly, with a push of adrenaline, she was on stage.
Alleaume opens a brilliant OA Melbourne season this week at the State Theater in the same opera, La Traviata. She’s come a long way from being a little girl growing up in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s east, practicing crying in the mirror and begging her parents to join the choir.
“It took me 11 years to get here, worked my way up through the company of OA schools, done little things at the Arts Center, some extra choir stuff, The Merry Widow and Gilda (in Verdi Rigoletto),” says Alleaume.
“It’s my favorite opera so it’s wonderful. It’s an incredible role. Violetta embarks on a massive journey in such a short time (from frantic Parisian nightlife to true love in the countryside, to sacrificing her love and dying from tuberculosis). People have said that this role is written for three sopranos because it requires so many layers and techniques for the voice.
“Then you deal with the normal things of your job: heavy suits, hoping people don’t walk on your train, hoping you don’t trip over a rug. Something so small can ruin your performance, but you can’t let it because you have to stay in character.
Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini has “tremendous admiration” for Alleaume. “She’s worked incredibly hard, she’s very talented, she’s extremely disciplined. Not only does she sing Violetta wonderfully and incredibly beautifully, but she inhabits the entire role – every second she’s on stage, you’ll believe she is Violet. She’s so exciting and thrilling and beautiful and tragic.