Even after playing the character of Julia Child in the one-woman, one-act opera Bon Appétit for several years, mezzo-soprano Susan Nicely admits that she still can't cook.
But boy, can she sing.
She's been a character mezzo-soprano throughout her 30-year opera career, often playing the nurse or a comic sidekick to the lead soprano, as she did at The Dallas Opera in 2012's La Traviata. It was her eighth role with The Dallas Opera.
She's back in town to sing a role she's done twice before, which definitely fits the bill of comic mezzo.
Composer Lee Hoiby wrote Bon Appétit for his friend Jean Stapleton, of All in the Family fame. She debuted it in 1989 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Child, who famously had a sense of humor about herself (she loved Dan Akryod's impression of her on Saturday Night Live), loved the opera.
In the 30-minute show, Nicely bakes a chocolate cake. It's not the le gâteau au chocolat l’éminence brune for which Child was famous, but still, she makes the batter (and a mess) and then bakes, frosts and cuts the cake, all while singing about. The libretto is by Mark Shulgasser, but the words were taken directly from two episodes of Child's The French Chef in the 1970s.
The free performances (RSVP strongly encouraged) are 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Dallas Farmer's Market Demonstration Kitchen.
TheaterJones caught up with her for a few minutes on Friday to discuss the baking, the mess-making and drink-partaking as the great Julia Child in Bon Appétit.
Here's the short video interview:
And here's a video snippet from the show: