We last saw Melisa take the stage as Stephano in our first production of the year Romeo and Juliet. Since then the mezzo-soprano has travelled all over the globe working on multiple projects. We took time to check back in with Melisa as she prepares to take on the role of Maddalena in our upcoming production of Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Opera San José: We haven’t seen you since your stint as Stephano in Romeo and Juliet, what have you been up to since we last saw you on the California Theatre stage?
Melisa: Since I sang Stephano in R & J, I have been quite busy. First I went to do an Opera Gala fully staged scenes concert with the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra in Chengdu,
Sichuan in China, with the iSING! International Festival, then I took a trip to Tokyo just for fun, since I was already nearby. I had a workshop performance of a few new rock operas with Experiments in Opera in NYC. I went to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Did a workshop with Opera Theatre Saint Louis for their New Works Collective. Did a Candlelight Christmas Concert which featured mostly jazz renditions of Christmas tunes, and sang the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors with a small but fully staged production with orchestra in NYC. So, I’ve been busy. I spent an amazing New Years Eve with my family in which we threw a big and very loud party! Luckily I’ve had some time to rest in early January in order to be able to arrive back in San Jose to get back to work!
OSJ: What have been some of the things you have most enjoyed this season about being an Artist-in-Residence?
M: I really have enjoyed all of the people I’ve encountered at the opera company, from the staff, to the other singers. Everyone treats each other with kindness, respect, and encouragement.
OSJ: What have been some of the things that you have enjoyed seeing the growth of opera as an art form in recent years?
M: I truly enjoy being able to incorporate both traditional works and new works into this industry. I get excited by the versatility that one can see as an audience member when they go to the theater, as well as the versatility required as a performer these days. Not only do we get to tell a wide range of different stories, we even get to tap into different worlds sonically, whether that be with a more contemporary composition, or one referring to different cultures.
Melisa Bonetti Luna as Stephano in Romeo and Juliet
Photo Courtesy of David Allen Photography Studio
OSJ: You are a huge proponent for modern music, what has been a recent project of modern music that you have enjoyed and why?
M: There have been so many recent projects that I have enjoyed in the category of new modern music. One reason for that is that I’ve been able to see pieces grow over time, and get the chance to return to workshop a piece several times in its different stages. I’m excited about this rock opera I’m doing with Experiments in Opera in NYC, which I’ve workshopped twice, and have the premiere of this year, I also really enjoyed singing in the premiere of Paraiso by Sokio and Tiniacos at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, based on two real people’s real experience of crossing the border, and an opera about Urban Renewal that I
premiered a year ago by Judd Greenstein and Tracy K. Smith, to name a few. I’ve been extremely fortunate in this category of work and work on several modern works every year.
OSJ: Amid your busy singing schedule, what are some of the things that you enjoy doing in your free time?
M: I love to go to concerts of all genres to be inspired by artists of different kinds. I like to improvise vocal, piano, and dance music of my own. I love to spend time with family, to cook, to try different restaurants, to go hiking, dancing, rockclimbing, exercise, go for walks, and be around people that I love.