Back in July when I started this #360ontheroad adventure, I met Marina Costa-Jackson at Opéra Bastille for her run as Micaëla in Carmen. Somehow the planets aligned and I ended up being in Paris to wrap up the trip at the same time her mezzo-soprano sister, Ginger Costa-Jackson, was there performing Despina in Così fan tutte at Opéra Garnier.
This is a reprise of the Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker production, which had its first run in Paris earlier this year. It is a new original production, which involves dancers from her company. It was well received in Paris and not only did the company decide to bring it back this season, but the run was also extended. There is a total of 14 shows split between 2 casts. I met up with Ginger right before the first of her 7 shows.
“I actually originally auditioned for Dorabella for this production. I had covered it at the MET, so I knew it. After a Saturday audition, they asked me if I could come back on Monday with Despina’s arias. I was very surprised! I had never sung them before… but with Così… you kind of end up knowing everyone else’s parts as well, so I was familiar with them. I wanted to be off book for it so I learned “In Uomini” in one day and went for it. I was the only mezzo there.”
If you are familiar with Ginger’s voice or followed along when she took over our Instagram page, you are aware of her impressive vocal range: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZH2MTMlhil/?taken-by=360ofopera
“I think the question is always there… what are you? I can sing high but my voice thins out as it goes up. That is what allows me to sing roles like Rosina, where I have to go up and come back down fast. I don’t stay up there for too long. I hear my sisters [Marina and Miriam, lyric and coloratura sopranos] and their voices get huge when they are singing up there. That to me answers the question.”
Most singers have dealt with this question at some point. “Fachs” are a hot topic, especially among young artists, and we had a little fun with it while in Italy earlier this summer with our friend Paull Anthony Keightley: https://www.instagram.com/p/BXpmfYLlEn3/?taken-by=360ofopera
“Vocally, I definitely think Despina is better suited for a soprano voice type. I can sing it fine and enjoy it but it sits a little high for a mezzo. Throughout the opera I am aware of a lot of shifts that need to happen constantly. Take Dorabella or Cherubino for example, they sit just a little lower, enough to be in a more comfortable part of my voice, where those shifts just happen naturally.”
Ginger will get to spend time with her sister Marina on the stage this season… as sisters! They sing Dorabella and Fiordiligi together at Seattle Opera next January and we are all as excited as them about this because it will probably be the best sister duo opera will ever get.
“Right after this Despina I go to Hong Kong to sing Musetta. I’m trying the role out… but I am excited!” Yes, Musetta is historically a soprano role. But opera is as much theater as it is music and a singer needs to be well suited vocally and dramatically to perform a role successfully. Trust me, I was right next to Ginger when she was warming up AND got to see the show from the first row. She is more than qualified to perform a killer Musetta.
As far as other future projects… 360 was sworn to secrecy! But fear not, Ginger and her luscious locks continue to perform her signature role of Carmen around the world. She will also be taking her Maddalena to LA Opera this season. Ginger is fierce and so are the characters she plays. It was such a pleasure to spend 7 (!) hours with her at Palais Garnier and step into her world for a night.
If you are curious about this Così fan tutte production and Ginger’s take on Despina, it was just released on DVD! Skip your usual Netflix… and Opera and Chill instead!