Lisette Oropesa has had the kind of year where, if she wasn’t ready for it, it would have been impossible to keep up.
It’s her first day off in more than a week, and when the Baton Rouge-raised, New Orleans-born opera singer and her husband realize the latest Parisian metro strike means they might miss an intercontinental phone call, they know they have but one option to get to their apartment in time: Run.
“We’re cold because we’re sweaty. We’re in our running clothes, and we’d already run seven and a half miles, so, you know, what’s another mile?” Oropesa laughs.
It’s hard not to think that sense of adventure has helped Oropesa get where she is now, which at that particular moment meant preparing to star in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Opéra National de Paris. But in the past year, she’s also earned both the Richard Tucker Award and the Beverly Sills Award, two of opera’s top prizes. Her return to the Metropolitan Opera to star in Massenet’s Manon was applauded by The New York Times; critic Joshua Barone said Oropesa “slips into the title role as if it were custom couture.”
Somehow, she also managed to get home to LSU to host master classes and perform at her alma mater.
“Her roots in Louisiana are very precious to her, as is her family,” says Robert Grayson, the LSU professor of voice who still serves as Oropesa’s vocal teacher, occasionally flying out to her performances and rehearsals to offer advice. “She really understands the struggle and working at all times to do your best, and that continued outlook is what has really helped her achieve the gift of her talents, which is just amazing.”
Oropesa’s path has never been linear. Her parents fled from Cuba to New Orleans, landing later in Baton Rouge, where Oropesa’s mother, Rebecca, also a soprano, is a music teacher. Despite Rebecca’s insistence that Lisette would make a talented vocalist, a teenage Lisette didn’t yet put her focus there.