Five Questions For Patricia Racette

Patricia Racette is a beloved operatic soprano, honored by Opera News as "an integral component of the American opera landscape today" and hailed by The New York Times for the "uncommon richness, expressivity, and honesty" of her voice.

This fall, she makes her much-anticipated return to Café Sabarsky, where she will perform on two evenings: Thursday, September 30, 2010 and Friday, October 1, 2010. She will be accompanied by pianist Craig Terry on both nights.

We spoke with Patricia, and asked her five questions about herself, her inspirations, and the program she is preparing for Sabarsky audiences.

Head shot, Patricia Racette, photo credit: Devon CassQuestion 1: You're best known today as a star of the opera world. When you were starting out, did you try different styles of singing?

Patricia Racette: As a little girl, I spent hours with my guitar, composing original songs. In high school I listened to jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, and Ernestine Anderson. I was even allowed to take part in a few jam sessions with some local musicians.


Patricia Racette, performing at the Austrian Cultural Forum, Washington, D.C., 2008.Q2: Are there any particular singers or musicians from the cabaret tradition whose work is an inspiration to you?

PR: Edith Piaf and Judy Garland are among my favorites, and I am so thrilled to get to put my voice to what I consider to be their music. There is a rawness in Edith Piaf that packs a powerful punch. With Judy Garland, I am always drawn to the soulful drama that pulsates through her singing.


Patricia Racette as Marguerite in Gounod's Faust at the San Francisco Opera, 2010, photo credit: Cory Weaver.Q3: After singing on stages in concert halls that seat thousands of people, is it a challenge to adapt your performance to a much smaller space like Café Sabarsky?

PR: I love Cafe Sabarsky. In my opinion, it is the perfect venue for cabaret. I will admit that at first the proximity of the audience was a bit unnerving, but that was a fleeting feeling. I simply adore the intimacy of the space and immediacy of communication that it allows.



Patricia Racette Q4: In an interview you gave to the New York Times last year, you said “I love my profession, but there’s part of me that doesn’t belong in the opera world. Cabaret takes me back to my roots.” What did you mean by that?

PR: I don't consider myself to be grand, and so often opera is grand: grand scale costumes, sets, orchestra, everything. I always have the same goal artistically when I perform: to tell a story, to show the journey of a character. In cabaret, that goal can take on a certain informality of expression that really suits my personality.



Head shot, Patricia Racette, photo credit: Devon CassQ5: Can you tell us a bit about the program you’ll be performing?

PR: My program will include songs by Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, and Rogers and Hart, to name a few. Cabaret is a partnership, and having someone like Craig Terry at the piano is a blessing. The more I sing this music, the more I realize how much I love having this artistic outlet.


Patricia Racette will perform Thursday, September 30, 2010 and Friday, October 1, 2010 at 9 p.m., preceded by a prix-fixe dinner at 7 p.m.

Ticket price is $110 (dinner $65, performance $45; purchased together). Performances and dinners are not sold separately. Tickets are nonrefundable.

Tickets may be purchased by calling (212) 628-6200, ext. 485.

Performance will take place in Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie New York

1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th Street
New York, NY 10028
[email protected]

Piano courtesy of Yahama.