I had auditioned for PHANTOM several times--including for the original production (I had been on holiday in Paris, and flew to London for the afternoon to sing. Naturally, I didn't get it, because it's "Rosemary Ashe" whose name is on the original poster--not "Valda Aviks"!) But I finally got my chance at Carlotta at the Raimundtheater in Vienna (Priti Coles was the first "Carlotta" in Vienna, but I was the last!). Imagine a German-speaking Carlotta with an Italian accent. Hmmmm. Needless to say, I adored playing the role. Every Carlotta knows that she is actually the star of the piece, and that the Christine/Phantom/Raoul story is just a sideline. It's this conviction that enables us to carry on against great odds. The most stressful thing about the role (for me) was waking up every morning and checking to see what shape my voice was in. Obviously, I always wanted to be at my best, and those high E's and F's are not child's play. So if the voice was a bit glommed up (excuse the technical term) I had to spend the day coddling it so I could be ready to amaze and delight the public in the evening.
Next, I played Carlotta for a year in England at the Manchester Opera House, and then, at last, London--the golden cradle of the Divine Diva. Ah, the joy of treading the boards at Her Majesty's Theatre! Everything since has seemed a bit of an anticlimax. To console me, however, I have the friendship of my dresser, Lois Elliott-Bickmore (who is a great photographer and all round nice gal) and--I know this will amaze you, knowing how proud and yet insecure we Carlottas are--the companionship of another Carlotta, Jasna Ivir (though I know she will understand that you must rather vote for me than for her in the contest, musn't you!?)
To show that I am not too proud, I consented to carry on my career, and in the years A.C. ("after Carlotta"), I played "Widow Corney" in OLIVER! at the Palladium, "Mrs. Potts" in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at the Dominion and now I am back in Vienna, assaying a character part---the comic yet compelling "Rebecca" in TANZ DER VAMPIRE, which is based on Roman Polanski's film, THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS.
I still sing, and, every now and then, in a quiet moment, I catch a glimpse in the corner of my eye of a great elephant, turning majestically to reveal--- a drunken stagehand! And again I am there at the Opera in Paris, holding THAT head, pouring forth that mighty cadenza, cheating death in an agonizing moment of terror---Ah, it was then I was truly alive!!!
Television: Emigranten, ORF (Austria); Der Weg Zu Cats, ORF; Marge in Words of Love (BBC
Screen 2); Friends of Gilda (CBC, Canaca).
Film: Melissa Rickman in Clive Barkerís Night Breed
Recordings: Original Cast album, Cats, Vienna: Save the Children Christmas Carols
Greetings from a former Carlotta. I played the "Daunting Diva" in Vienna (1992-93), Manchester, England (1993-94) and London (1995-96). I'm currently in Vienna to take over the role of "Rebecca" in TANZ DER VAMPIRE (how's that for a chan ge of pace?). I see I haven't got any votes in the "Favorite Carlotta" competition, so I'll just vote for myself (it's what Carlotta would do, but she wouldn't tell the world like I just did!) It's the most wonderful role to play--and a great sing. But hardly anyone in the audience appreciates Carlotta's hard work. They all want to applaud for that upstart Christine and her boyfriends. Yecchhh.