The Costa-Jackson Sisters on family and doing it their way.
360° of Opera regulars might recall the #360ontheroad adventures in Europe this past summer, when Marina Costa-Jackson took over during her run as Micaëla in Carmen at Opéra Bastille, and later on, Ginger Costa-Jackson had her go at it while performing Despina in Così fan tutte at Opéra Garnier. Yes, it was epic and these girls rock. They have been very busy since then, with both individual and sister projects. We managed to catch them right after playing sisters on stage in Cosī fan tutte at Seattle Opera and while they are gearing up for their next engagement together: Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan with Washington Concert Opera.
The common theme in my previous interviews with Marina and Ginger was their intention of singing together as much as possible in the future. Even before you meet them in person, you can tell that they have a strong family bond and that they are each other’s biggest fans. While hanging out in their dressing rooms before their performances, I also noticed they know each other’s voices as if they were their own. I got to talk voce with both of them while they were warming up and they each brought their sister up at some point to make intelligent comparisons. I mean, it is pretty ideal that there are three of them and each has a different voice type. Marina is a lyric soprano, Ginger is a mezzo-soprano and Miriam is a coloratura soprano. And those are just titles, because their voices are so gorgeous, rich and full of colors that those labels seem too constrictive in my opinion. Anyhow, the creative possibilities with these three seem endless. Did I mention they are also incredible actresses and overall performers?
360° of Opera: You two are very close. What do you love most about performing together?
GCJ: I love the blend that our voices get, having this sixth sense of knowing when she’s going to switch notes, and feeding off her energy. We like to call it ‘blood harmony’.
MCJ: My favorite thing about sharing the stage with Ginger is that she has such a cool head and confident spirit. It inspires me. We just finished singing Cosī Fan Tutte at Seattle Opera. While playing Fiordiligi opposite her Dorabella, I got to hold her hand a lot, this really helped calm my nerves!
360° of Opera: What are some dream operas you would like to do together?
CJS: We have a long list of operas we’d like to sing together as the three Costa-Jackson sisters. They include: Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan Tutte, Les Contes D’Hoffmann, La Cenerentola, Carmen and more! We also thought about Der Rosenkavalier, but that would be a bit too risqué. As for working together, we have the same agents and ask to get paired up as often as possible.
360° of Opera: The opera lifestyle can be very hectic. How do you stay grounded, connected to your family and your goals?
GCJ: God gets me through everything. And if ever, I’m tempted to go down the rabbit hole of comparing myself to others, or obsessing over how I did on an audition/performance, I call my family and they set me straight. That’s how I stay grounded.
MCJ: I feel humbled that I get to sing for a living and strive to live up to the honor of being able to participate in the most inspiring music ever written. The need to better my craft keeps me grounded. My family through their prayers, love and support sustain me daily. I am a lucky girl!
In between opera projects, Ginger, Marina and Miriam also do concerts together as the three sisters, where they get to have a little fun with extra harmonies and explore other styles like musical theater. I don’t know about you… but to me this screams CONCERT TOUR! Especially since they have a good mastery of many languages, beginning by the fact they are Italian.
I was lucky enough to pick Marina and Ginger’s brains and observe them in action for two entire nights in Paris. These ladies are pure talent, strength and inspiration. And everyone at Opéra Bastille and Opéra Garnier loved them for it. They are the kind of artists you want to work with again and again. What’s their secret?
360° of Opera: As the strong, hard-working, successful women that you are, what is your advice for the young aspiring female opera singers out there who follow your career and would like to one day be where you are at today?
GCJ: My biggest piece of advice is don’t let the desire to please others or conform take away your voice. In the end, the world needs only what you can uniquely offer. Own it.
MCJ: I started singing later than my sisters because I had horrible stage fright. It is possible to be afraid and still succeed. My advice is don’t make fear-based choices, and don’t get discouraged. If this is your dream follow it with your whole self so you can live without regret.
This unapologetic, yet kind and charming attitude, has gotten them far. So, what’s next?
360° of Opera: Please tell us about Maria de Rohan, Donizetti and singing this show together with Washington Concert Opera. What makes this non-standard opera special?
CJS: It is exciting to make our Washington Concert Opera debut together! Maria Di Rohan is one of Donizetti’s final works, it is rarely performed, and a hidden gem. When first reading through the score we found it particularly funny that Ginger’s character, Armando Di Gondi (a pants role), springs onto the scene insulting Maria’s honor (aka Marina).
The company adds the following description about the piece: “A classic love triangle with a tragic twist, Maria di Rohan follows the story of a woman torn between the man she loves and the man to whom she is secretly married. Duels, love letters, underground tunnels and political intrigue ensue. Lifted from a 19th century French play and transformed into this atypically dramatic bel canto work”
360° of Opera wishes Marina and Ginger a big success for this concert performance with WCO and their future projects. We hope to see them singing together in many of their dream sister operas, and MORE!
Maria di Rohan runs one night only on Sunday, February 18th at 6 pm in Lisner Auditiorium, Washington, DC. Catch Marina and Ginger as they take over 360° of Opera on Social Media during this performance. You can also follow their adventures on @costajacksonsisters, @marinacostajackson and @gingercostajackson. For more information about this performance and future Washington Concert Opera events, follow @dcconcertopera.