SPORTS MAD OPERA SINGER CHRISTIANNE ADMITS THAT SHE'S NO DIVA

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The Sheffield Star

Goalkeeper, tennis player, yoga fan, enthusiastic hiker and broken-nosed ice skater...it's not the sort of profile you'd expect to see on the CV of your average opera singer.

But then, New Yorker Christianne Tisdale laughs at the idea of herself in the role of operatic diva, even though she currently has a starring role for Opera North.

"There's no diva in me -- that's one of the reasons I left opera," she says, for it should be pointed out that her Opera North debut is in a revival of the Broadway musical ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, much more to her taste than one of the heavy weights of the classical repertoire.

"You know what"  I wasn't a terribly good opera singer," she cheerfully confesses, even though she did get a Masters at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied voice and opera.

"It seems to me that the opera form is about perfection and to me that isn't what art is about."

Instead, Christianne decided that she'd rather take her voice and her acting talent into the world of musical theatre, winning starring roles in shows as varied as the Disney hit BEAUTY AND THE BEAST,  TRIUMPH OF LOVE -- "a delightful musical but we just didn't get a fair stab at it" -- and TITANIC, the latter one of those shows that won big audiences in the States but never made it to the West End.

"Yes, the ship really did sink -- but I was one of the survivors," she says.  "It was very spectacular, one of the most beautiful things you could see, even if it did start out a little shaky -- the previews still go down in history as some of the worst ever, but they pulled it together and found a show by press night and won the Tony Award -- as well it should!"

Funnily enough, ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, the musical which now brings her to England for a tour with Opera North, had a similarly chequered history before slipping from view.

Probably best known to English audiences as the 1948 movie starring Ava Gardner -- which jettisoned most of the songs -- it actually began life as a 1943 Broadway show starring Mary Martin as an ancient statue who comes to life and wreaks romantic havoc in stylish Manhattan.

"I think Opera North's production is the first fully-staged, fully-realised performance in a large venue since the original," Christianne explains.  "actually, I have seen the film and I adored it -- I love Ava Gardner."

Christianne plays Molly Grant, a wise-cracking secretary to the man who buys the statue -- one of those sharp, straight-talking career girl roles that used to be played in the movies by Eve Arden.

"I'm the typical Girl Friday," she says.  "As far as I'm concerned, I run the show, though I'm not sure the other characters would agree.  She's great fun to play, a character any audience can really relate to."

She's rather hoping that this new run of the show, following the pre-Christmas season at the Grand Theatre in Leeds, will be accident free, having torn a calf muscle the first time around.

"It's just getting back to 95% now and I really hope to be back to the kickboxing and soccer and all that fun," she admits.  And then you KNOW why she doesn't want to be called a diva!

 

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