Catching up with Cephise: Meet soprano Emalie Savoy

In Pygmalion, Rameau introduces the character of Cephise, Pygmalion’s lover whom he spurns for his beloved statue. Soprano Emalie Savoy will be singing the role of Cephise in On Site Opera’s June production of Pygmalion. We recently caught up with Emalie while she was in rehearsal for Cosi fan tutte with the L.A. Philharmonic:

Marc Molomot (Pygmalion) and Emalie Savoy (Cephise) Photo by Richard Termine
Marc Molomot (Pygmalion) and Emalie Savoy (Cephise) Photo by Richard Termine

OSO: What is your experience with Rameau? Is this your first time performing his music?

Emalie: Having performed a great deal of operatic repertoire by Mozart and Gluck, this is my first time performing music by Rameau. This is a special experience to sing Rameau, in whose music I find an honest, and straightforward harmonic narrative of the characters. He writes in such an assured structure of musical theory that the syllabic setting of the text feels dramatically and vocally natural and inevitable.

OSO: Pygmalion deals with a sculptor’s obsession with his work. What’s your obsession/guilty pleasure?

Emalie: Studying history, absolutely! My interests run the gamut from Medieval Europe and the Vikings, to the Age of Enlightenment, and ancient Mesopotamian civilizations…I’m a real history fanatic!

OSO: Have you performed a site-specific opera before? How do you feel about taking opera out of the opera house?

Emalie: This is my first site-specific opera performance. I think breaking the fourth wall always produces an instantaneous connection that is often different from a more traditional theater. When an audience comes into direct contact with the material, the senses are uniquely heightened — the audience becomes a prioritized part of the active, creative process. A musical experience cannot help but become more emotionally accessible when it is surrounding you three hundred and sixty degrees.

OSO: How did you get involved with early music?

Emalie: Much of my early musical training involved singing sacred music from the Renaissance. My father conducted a group of singers in which we sang Gregorian chant and polyphony — masses and motets by Palestrina, Byrd, Desprez, Gabrieli, and their contemporaries. Later during my studies at Juilliard, I fell in love with the secular music of that same era, most especially operas and songs by Cavalli and Caccini.

OSO: Besides Pygmalion, what projects are coming up next for you?

Emalie: This July I will be appearing in concert with the Munich Radio Orchestra in Neumarkt, Germany, and this August I will join the Opera Studio at the Salzburg State Theater for season 2014-2015. One of the roles I will be singing is First Lady in The Magic Flute. Being a history buff, I am thrilled to be performing in a production of this opera in the very city where Mozart met the librettist of The Magic Flute, Emanuel Schikaneder!

Join us for Pygmalion
Tuesday, June 17 at Madame Tussauds New York

Friday, June 20 & Saturday, June 21 at Lifestyle-Trimco Showroom
All performances start at 7:30 | Tickets available at

Savoy_Emalie_0829_xret_cropAmerican soprano Emalie Savoy (Cephise) made her Metropolitan Opera debut during the 2011-2012 season as Kristina in Leoš Janáek’s The Makropulos Case. Recent engagements include the role of Countess Ceprano in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (broadcast as part of the Met’s Live in HD series and released on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon); a radio broadcast performance of Mozart’s Bella mia fiamma with the Munich Radio Orchestra in Neumarkt, Germany; a performance of Hugo Wolf’s Mignon Lieder at Steingraeber & Söhne in Bayreuth, Germany; featured soprano soloist at the 2013 Manchester Music Festival in Manchester, Vermont; soprano soloist in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by Maestro Kent Tritle with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall; a duo recital with tenor Anthony Dean Griffey and pianist Ken Noda at The Morgan Library and Museum, as a result of being named a 2011 George London Foundation Grand Prize recipient; and the role of Fiordiligi in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, conducted by Maestro Alan Gilbert in a co-production between the Lindemann Young Artist Program and The Juilliard School. Highlights of Ms. Savoy’s 2013-14 season include a return to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for their production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a performance at Weill Recital Hall with pianist Natalia Katyukova as part of Carnegie Hall’s Discovery Day: Benjamin Britten.

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