For soprano Sylvia D’Eramo, singing at Santa Fe feels like coming home to everyone from the gardeners to the vocal coaches.
The former Santa Fe Opera apprentice (2018, 2019) will make her principal debut in “Carmen” beginning Friday, July 1.
After earning her master’s degree at Yale University, D’Eramo packed her bags and drove West, where she spent two summers at the opera beneath the shadows of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
“I feel so lucky to be back,” D’Eramo said in a telephone interview. “Even when you’re an apprentice, you’re treated with artistic integrity.”
D’Eramo will sing the role of Micaëla in Georges Bizet’s classic tale of the ultimate femme fatale.
She’s the hometown sweetheart of the soldier Don José, who ultimately falls hard for Carmen, the seductive cigarette factory worker.
Micaëla “tries to convince him to come home to her,” D’Eramo said. “A lot of the time, she’s portrayed as this innocent, naive victim.”
But director Mariame Clément had other ideas about the character.
“She’s spunky, she goes out on her own,” D’Eramo said. “She tries to save Don José. It’s such an interesting take to make.”
D’Eramo grew up in a family of music lovers, although her parents did not play an instrument. The bookshelves groaned with classical music in the forms of tapes, videos and DVDs, including everything recorded by the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
Her trajectory toward the operatic stage stretched and curled in multiple detours.
“I grew up dancing,” D’Eramo said. “I was convinced I would be a ballerina.”
Then community theater came calling; she fell in love with musicals. It would be awhile before her thoughts turned to opera, although she began voice lessons.
“My teacher told me you should try opera instead of musical theater,” D’Eramo said. “I wasn’t thrilled about it. I wanted to sing ‘Wicked.’ ”
Then she took a music appreciation class at the local community college and fell in love with Robert Schumann’s art songs.
“I just lost it,” D’Eramo said. “It was so beautiful. It moved me to my core.”
Seeing the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko performing in “La Traviata” on DVD cemented her future.
“I watched it hundreds of times,” D’Eramo said. “It was an obsession.”
D’Eramo took a summer program at Oberlin College and Conservatory, then another with the Washington National Opera. Soon she was accepted into the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She most recently sang the role of the Countess Ceprano in the Met’s production of “Rigoletto.”
When D’Eramo completes her role in Santa Fe, she’ll fly to Berlin for an intensive German language course and auditions. After that, she will sing the Met’s new opera by Kevin Puts called “The Hours.”
She has yet to sing her dream role.
“My first love and role is Mimi in ‘La Bohème,’ ” she said. “I just adore her.”