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This Is Elizabeth DeShong's Secret to "Singing it All"

With wide ranging repertoire and a variety of roles, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong has been described by Opera Magazine as someone who can truly "sing it all." She talked with WRTI's Susan Lewis about finding the human element in every work.

On Sunday, August 25th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, Elizabeth DeShong sings Rossini's Stabat Mater with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Elizabeth DeShong has sung everything from Handel to Humperdink to Mahler, Britten, and Sondheim. In town to sing Rossini's Stabat Mater with The Philadelphia Orchestra, she says she's drawn to the diversity. 

"I made a very conscious decision, as much as is possible, to keep the variety of my repertoire. I'm fortunate,  with my voice type and my certain blend of flexibility and color. It lends itself to different things."

She tackles characters of different ages and different genders, from romantic females to male military commanders.  What's her secret?  In each case, she finds the emotional core.

"It's less about gender," she says, "and more about the mindset and the story of where a character is coming from, what time they're set in, and what their relationships are ... what you're trying to achieve."

Rossini's Stabat Mater  is set to text about Mary's suffering while Jesus died. DeShong says her approach to singing this work onstage with an orchestra is not unlike her work in an opera.

"I still think of the text in a very dramatic and character-filled way,  in the sense that you want to hear the words the first time and you want to then, when you repeat it, make something new and interesting.  So I think you have the same core of emotion that's just very focused without the distraction of physicality and costumes." 

Elizabeth DeShong reflects on her life as a singer in her photographic blog, A Singer's Suitcase.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.