Say, "Hello!" to Stephanie Doche, one of our 2018 company artists.
Stephanie Doche (rhymes with posh), was born in France and moved to the United States with her parents when she was 4 years old. Her love for music and opera began around this time between listening to Luciano Pavarotti and Friends on the stereo and encouragement she received from her grandmother to play piano and pursue music. Doche received her first solo during a kindergarten performance, and in high school decided she wanted a career in the music field. While pursuing her music education degree at State University of New York at Fredonia and substitute teaching at various schools, Doche thought, "I feel like I should keep performing, keep singing," and began auditioning for opera companies all across the nation.
One of her most recent engagements took her all the way to San Diego, California to perform the "pants role" Idamante in Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with Opera Neo. Pants roles, or trouser roles, are roles that were either written for castrati - men in the 18th century or earlier whose vocal range was comparable to a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto because of castration they underwent before hitting puberty - or roles that were written for women to portray as men.
"I do sing a lot of pants role music as a mezzo soprano. And it's really really cool, because often times these are young men with really intense desires, or have duties to be heroic for their countries, or are in very passionate relationships.
I don't think many people get to stray so far from who they are to portray their characters and roles. And it's challenging. But there are portions of me that are the exact same as these characters. We all have desires that are the same, and I can remove the stereotypes and other barricades and see myself in these characters and roles."
Doche will definitely be stretched and given a new repetoire of music and experiences with the roles she will be portraying with Opera Memphis. In October, she will appear as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, then in February she'll play Cousin Hebe in H.M.S. Pinafore, and then will perform Toldeo in Opera Memphis's co-commissioned piece The Falling and the Rising in April as a part of the 2019 Midtown Opera Festival.
And looking ahead in her career, Doche says she just wants to keep singing and being around music. She loves how opera encompasses so many different aspects of the human experience - history, language, mathematics, science, poetry, emotions - but remains so moving and relatable. She considers opera to be divided into two components: music and drama (story-telling). "When people know how to use those two to enhance each other, that's what makes opera stand out and what really intrigues me."
The hardest part for her in her opera career are those moments between jobs - putting in all the time and effort to refine her skills, learn new languages, sharpen her craft and then not always getting the job. But she perseveres and her hardwork and endurance is certainly paying off.
"I don't think I'll ever feel like 'I made it,' and I think that's really exciting! You know? And you hear people say things like, 'Everyone's path is different.' And I used to think, you know, 'Oh man! If there's no one, single path to do this, then how do I know if I'm doing it right?' But the reality is that you just want to be happy and be fulfilled and I think that's my goal. And of course to keep being challenged and growing. Growth is like the main goal."
All of us here at Opera Memphis are so excited to have Stephanie Doche as a company artist and look forward to watching her career develop and blossom.