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An Interview With Rebecca Caine

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

I am so thrilled to present this interview with one of my idols, Rebecca Caine.

Ms Caine has had an impressive career in both opera and musical theatre.

Most of my musical theatre followers will recognize her as the original Cosette in Les Miserables, and Christine from the North American Premiere of The Phantom of the Opera. Her opera credits include the title role in the North American Premiere of Lulu with the Canadian Opera Company, Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen (Spoleto), and Hanna in The Merry Widow (Opera Holland Park).

As a little girl, I spent countless hours singing along with Ms Caine on the Canadian Cast Recording of Phantom to the point of nearly wearing out the cassette tape.

Ms Caine is one of the biggest reasons I fell in love with theatre and ultimately, chose to pursue it as a career.

Having the opportunity to connect with her for a brief interview was a dream come true, and I am so grateful she took the time to answer a few questions on Both Sides!

You originated the role of Cosette in Les Miserables, and played Christine in the Canadian premiere of The Phantom of the Opera. What has it been like watching these two productions evolve?

For many years after crossing into opera I paid no attention to either show apart from seeing the posters on the underground but as time went on the big anniversaries began to roll around and also social media kicked off and people started to want to talk to me about both those shows. It’s 35 years in September since we opened Les Mis and it must be at least 33 since I first played Christine in London. That’s over half my lifetime ago.

Les Mis has finally changed the production, sadly to one that is not as strong so I expect I won’t be asked back to see it anymore which is just fine. It’s starting to become a strain to be pulled back to something that happened so long ago and musical theatre has not been my passion, classical music is.

I hardly ever see Phantom but people do send me clips of it occasionally.

I’m very proud of Les Mis. It is a gift to have a small part of making something that means so much to so many. The fact that it’s sung wherever there is a barricade raised is hugely moving. I was very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.

Over your impressive career, you have played many roles both in opera and musical theatre. Which role has been the most rewarding for you, both as an artist and as a person?

Lulu by Alban Berg was a huge achievement during my run as Christine in Canada and proof I was a serious singer. I loved The Cunning Little Vixen which I did several times. Pamina in Magic Flute at English National Opera meant a lot because it was so hard to cross from one genre to another. It still is. I adored Hanna Glawari in Merry Widow for its combination of all my skills developed over my strange career.

For those of us who aren’t as familiar with opera, what would you consider to be the biggest difference from musical theatre? Do you have a preference?

I’m always asked this and I have no answer! I personally prefer opera.

You are such an inspiration to so many young sopranos. Do you have any advice for them?

Have as many strings to your bow as possible.

Embrace the power of saying yes.

Only do it if you cannot imagine doing anything else.

Prepare for massive disappointment.

A huge amount of it is luck.

Who inspires you?

People who have turned their hands to many forms of performance.

Robert Helpman is an example. Many know him as the Child-Catcher in Chitty but he was also a ballet dancer, Fonteyn's partner, a Shakespearean actor, a director and a choreographer.

You also teach voice, both at Trinity Laban, as well as through private coaching. What is your philosophy when it comes to teaching?

I don’t teach much actually. I don’t have a gift for it and I’ve had enough teaching in my life to know that. If sopranos whine at me long enough I will coach them in roles I’ve done. Pass on the hacks, where to breath and rest and soon on.

How do you see live theatre and performance adapting and evolving as we move forward through (and hopefully out of) this pandemic?

I think we’ll discover many ways to get work out there but nothing will ever place being in the room while it happens.

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