Local Arts

She’s Carmen in Charlotte, but this New York opera star’s got range to spare

As Carmen in Opera Carolina’s second show of the season (Jan. 19, 20 and 24), Alyson Cambridge brings a little New York glitz to a classic role.

But the veteran of both Metropolitan Opera and European stages has been displaying her range lately in more ways than one: She debuted on Broadway last spring in the musical “Rocktopia,” did an album called “Sisters in Song” with friend and fellow soprano Nicole Cabell (in which the pair knock out not only opera duets but also folk songs, African-American spirituals and classical songs) — and took the New York Times through her typical Sunday (key activities: “giant” pot of coffee with unsweetened vanilla almond milk; 15-mile run; gown fitting; apple cider vinegar; practice-practice-practice).

Before a Charlotte rehearsal this week (one key activity: pacing that fortune-telling scene), Cambridge, 39, took a minute to talk about the increasing diversity on opera stages: “I’m a multi-ethnic woman and I remember when I was first coming up in this industry, 15, almost 20 years ago, and there were not a lot of people on the stage that looked like me.” The change in recent years, she says, is “so wonderful, especially in terms of bringing new audiences to opera.”

And of “Carmen”? She calls it one of the great opera spectacles, with (key to people who aren’t traditional opera-goers) “a lot of resemblance to musical theater... I get to dance and sing. I get thrown on the floor. There’s a stabbing. [Insert shocked look, followed by laugh.] Am I giving something away?”

This story is part of an Observer underwriting project with the Thrive Campaign for the Arts, supporting arts journalism in Charlotte. Sign up here for the free e-newsletter “Inside Charlotte Arts.”