Senior Andrea Davies and junior Ali Rose Hotz are two different but equally talented singers. Yet, in Miami University Opera’s last two shows, they have been double-cast in the same part, meaning they’ve shared the role but have had different performance nights. They both played Rose Maurrant in last year’s “Street Scene” and Anne Egerman in last month’s “A Little Night Music.”
So what is it about these two that makes them the right fit for the same parts?
For one thing, they’re both lyric coloratura sopranos. According to vocal professor Alison Acord, who teaches both Davies and Hotz, these are sopranos who have a warm quality to their voice, but who can also sing lots of high notes.
“In the world of opera, roles are cast on the type of voice,” said Acord. “Even though their voices are very different to listen to, they are still both considered lyric coloratura sopranos.”
While the two have been double-cast for the past two opera shows, they also both performed in “Cosi Fan Tutte” in 2015, though in separate roles.
However, it’s not too coincidental that they’ve been cast in the same roles in their other shows, Davies said. Often, there are several people capable of playing a role well, and the directors want to give more students the opportunity to perform.
While essentially all the lead roles in “Street Scene” were double-cast, Anne Egerman was one of the only roles double-cast in “A Little Night Music.”
When being double-cast, the actors have to keep in mind that they’re still playing the same character. They receive the same direction for staging and movement and the same instructions on how to sing the music during vocal coaching. But of course, all people are different and no two character interpretations are alike.
“There had to be some very structural similarities or else the show wouldn’t make sense if we totally did them in two different ways,” said Davies. “Each of us did some of the things differently. Just the way we interpreted the character for ourselves was obviously different between she and I.”
Being double-cast can be quite helpful for the actors. During rehearsal, while one person is on stage, the other will take notes on the performance.
“If she does something that I don’t do in my scene, I can be like, oh, that’s kind of cool. I wonder what would happen if I did that,” said Davies.
Hotz agrees that being double-cast definitely has its benefits.
“It was especially nice as a freshman and sophomore to be able to have that other person to look up to and bounce ideas off of,” she said.
Hotz also added that being double-cast now can help her prepare for her professional career.
“It’s very possibly that I’ll be double-cast in the future or be cast as a cover,” she said. “To have three years of that experience already is good so that I know how to act. I know how to be professional about it.”
In addition to their professional roles, the two are also friends offstage. In fact, they met long before their time at Miami. Hotz recalls that they actually met in high school while performing in All-State Choir together, and then again when Hotz came to shadow Miami during her senior year.
So what’s next for the double-cast duo? They won’t be performing the same role again, at least not at Miami. Hotz still has another year left, during which she will perform in a still-to-be-determined opera. Davies, however, is set to graduate this May. She plans to take a gap year before applying to grad school, during which she’ll continue to study with Acord.
Davies and Hotz have also accomplished more than just their roles in Miami’s opera program. In December, Davies won Miami’s concerto competition and will perform with a full orchestra in early May. Hotz recently took second place in the Campus Superstar competition in Cincinnati, an area-wide vocal competition for college students.
Acord believes that, while opera is a difficult and precise discipline to master, Hotz and Davies are well on their way to success.
“It takes a while to get there and it’s a lot of hard work,” said Acord. “But both of these young women have today exactly what it takes to do it.”