Through the window with Rosina: Meet Monica Yunus
From the young cunning ward to the conflicted Countess later in the trilogy, Rosina is arguably one of the most complex roles in opera. We first meet our heroine through Bartolo’s window, and it is from that same window that the Count and Figaro try to rescue her. We caught up with soprano Monica Yunus to get her thoughts on our site-specific Barber as she prepares to become the complicated Rosina. Don’t forget to check out the playlist to hear some of her favorite operatic moments!
Monica Yunus at The Fabbri Mansion by Rebecca Fay Photography
• OSO: What is your first memory of opera?
MY: First memory was onstage at The Met in La bohème in the children’s chorus — it was quite a way to be introduced to opera.
OSO: Name from an opera…Your favorite:
• OSO: Aria?
MY: “Un bel dì” from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly
•OSO: Love duet?
MY: Duet from Act II of Giordano’s Fedora
MY: Finale from Rossini’s La Cenerentola
MY: Mirella Freni
• OSO: Favorite cocktail?
• OSO: Last book you read?
MY: Baby books……..all baby books!
•OSO: Is this your first time performing Paisiello’s music?
• OSO: The subtitle of the opera is “The Useless Precaution.” Have you ever taken, what you feel like, are useless precautions? Has the result been as comedic as in the opera?
MY: I am a risk averse person, so I don’t think of them as useless precautions! I think it comes from having broken my leg when I was three — I feel I have been risk averse ever since particularly with anything that could put me in physical danger! I am not the person who will ever try bungee jumping for example.
• OSO: Beaumarchais characters from his “Figaro Trilogy” are some of the most beloved in all of opera. What excites you most about performing Paisiello’s version in a site-specific production?
MY: I love the idea of working with a space that already lends itself to the opera and its plot. The Fabbri Mansion is a perfect locale for this opera — the gorgeous library allows the imagination to flow and ponder all of the secrets the walls have kept all these years.
• OSO: What is the greatest music-related advice you’ve ever been given?
MY: Be true to the music — you don’t actually have to “add” what you think is the emotion — it’s all already there. If you think you are “feeling” the music, chances are you aren’t giving the audience a chance to have their experience of it. A hard concept to process but over the years, I have found it to be very true. The more you allow the music to speak for itself, the more satisfying it can be.
• OSO: Besides On Site’s Barber, what projects are coming up next for you?
MY: I am working on a few concerts for the summer — one in Italy with Andrea Bocelli and one at USDAN, an arts camp for exceptional young musicians.
Check out the playlist below to hear some the music mentioned in Monica’s interview!
Equally at home in concert, recital or on the operatic stage, Monica Yunus (Rosina) has established herself as one of America’s most promising young sopranos. She has been called “especially winning” by The New York Times and commended for her “rich and sensuous voice [that] was utterly captivating.” Her roles include Norina in Don Pasquale, Adina in L’Elisir D’Amore, Alice in Le Comte Ory, Pamina in The Magic Flute, Gilda in Rigoletto, Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera among many others. She can be seen in several Metropolitan Opera HD broadcasts ranging from The Magic Flute to Le Comte Ory to La Rondine. Ms. Yunus is a graduate of The Juilliard School and is the Co-Founder of the Sing for Hope charitable organization based in New York, whose mission is to make the arts available to all. For her contributions to the field of arts activism, Ms. Yunus has been honored to give special performances at The United Nations, the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and received a 2009 DOHA 21st Century Leader Award in the category of Outstanding Humanitarian. Born in Chittagong, Bangladesh and raised in New Jersey, Ms. Yunus is the daughter of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus. http://monicayunus.com/