Soprano Kristin Knutson made her Haymarket Opera Company debut as Ismaele in Scarlatti’s oratorio Agar et Ismaele esiliati, where she “managed her ornate ariosos with an acute understanding of how Scarlatti combines words and music to create dramatic truth” (Chicago Tribune). On the opera stage, she has appeared as Venus in John Eccles’ The Judgment of Paris, the Shepherdess in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and Musetta in La Bohème. She has appeared with the Florentine Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre Center, Opera New Jersey, Main Street Opera, Fresco Opera Theatre, the Skylight Music Theatre, the Fireside Theatre, and the New Group. Ms. Knutson is a graduate of The Juilliard School. She appeared in a concert version of Candide with the New York Philharmonic. Her musical theatre engagements have included The Music Teacher with The New Group (Off Broadway – Minetta Lane Theatre), La Gioconda (Off Broadway – Clurman Theatre), Limelight with the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and both Ring in the New and A Fireside Christmas with the Fireside Theatre.
What is the story of how you first came to love music and opera?
I got my first taste of opera as an 11-year-old in Milwaukee, when I was cast as one of the spirits in Magic Flute. The three of us children darted around the stage on tricycles and had "Hölle Rache" sing-a-longs in the green room while consuming inordinate amounts Ricola cough drops. I couldn't believe you could have this much fun in a grown-up job!
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
I think the biggest challenge is to figure out what makes you unique as an artist and then learn how to share that. It's easy to get caught up in the competitive environment and think you have to do what every other singer is doing without ever stopping to examine what you really want. I think having the courage to step away to figure out what music you absolutely can't live without, find your own voice in it, then follow where that leads is a challenge worth taking.
Do you have a favorite performer?
Mandolinist/singer/host of “Prairie Home Companion,” Chris Thile.
Do you have a favorite role? Aria? Opera?
The role of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro!
Do you have any favorite books about music?
I really enjoyed reading Mozart's Women: His Family, His Friends, His Music by Jane Glover.
What else are you reading?
Garden seed catalogs and Moby Dick.
Who are your favorite 17th and 18th century composers?
Handel, Scarlatti, Monteverdi, Barbara Strozzi, Étienne Moulinié, and J.S. Bach.
If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?
This is an impossible question! Can I just say, Bach?
What do you love about HOC?
I love the enthusiasm and integrity with which they approach lesser-known works from the Baroque period. They are so brave to revive pieces that have faded away over time and present them with such spirit and style. Haymarket's commitment to historical accuracy -- sets, costumes, makeup, instruments, gesture, etc. -- always creates a transcendent experience for me, as an audience member. I also love the paintings created by Zuleyka V. Benitez for each show.
Do you have a favorite memory from a past HOC event?
Suzanne Lommler's singing an aria while carrying a faun was absolutely charming in L'Isola Disabitata.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making music?
Gardening and canning.
What is the first thing you think about in the morning?
Do you have any heroes/heroines?
The writer/poet Wendell Berry is one of my heroes.
What music do you listen to most often?
Bluegrass and Baroque.
If you had not entered into your current career, what do you think you would have done instead?
Perhaps I would have been a farmer.