Monday, February 25, 2013

Interview with Lee Poulis

Lee Poulis as Zurga in Sarasota Opera's 2013 production of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers
Lee Poulis is performing Zurga in Bizet's Pearl Fishers at the Sarasota Opera through March 22nd. Below is an interview that appeared on the Sarasota Opera blog. The link to the entire interview is at the end of this post. Tickets are available online

Q.  What drew you to become a singer?  Was there a specific “Aha!” moment of clarity?

A.  I actually began in music as a trumpet player in the 4th grade.  Pretty soon I realized I enjoyed hearing the trumpet being played in an orchestra rather than in the band, which was where I played.  I began listening to the classical station and heard some opera in the mix.  I was immediately drawn to it and wanted to hear and know more about it.  I began renting opera videos from Blockbuster at the age of 12 and saw my first opera at the Metropolitan Opera in that same year.  As years passed and I buried myself in recordings and videos from the public library, I could sing along with many of the operas while reading the libretto.  I also did my first Pavarotti impression pretty early on, handkerchief and all.  When I was 15 after some long-term nudging from my parents, who knew nothing about opera but apparently had an ear, I sang for my high school chorus teacher.  The rest is history.

Q.  What are you looking forward to most about performing this particular role?

A.  I like that I’m playing the leader of everyone else in the opera.  Sounds like a lot of power.  So far it’s one fishing village, but I hope to expand my sphere of influence as soon and as widely as possible and take over all of Sri Lanka, where this opera takes place.
Q.  Is there something unique about your process when preparing a role for performance?

A.  I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s how I do it!  It’s a process of singing through, translating, feeling, putting myself in the character’s shoes, singing it through with a pianist, working on it with my voice teacher, and raising the stakes dramatically and vocally wherever it’s called for in the story and the music.  Almost all of these facets of preparation are occurring all the time and in no particular order from day one of my role preparation until the last performance is over and sometimes beyond that too!
Read the entire interview at the Sarasota Opera blog. 


  1. If Zurga is still doing any pearl fishing and dove into the water wearing this costume, he'd drown. If Lee Poulis is a true barihunk, Sarasota Opera should show it, i.e. bare-chested. Santa Fe Opera's Zurga was bare-chested!