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Kelli O’Hara

Kelli O'Hara with Christopher Maltman

The Met has assembled a cast of rising young stars to play the four lovers at the center of Così fan tutte, with the eminent baritone Christopher Maltman as the puppet master Don Alfonso, who sets the plot in motion. But perhaps the most intriguing bit of casting is that of Broadway’s Kelli O’Hara as Despina, the wily maid who proves herself to be smarter than almost everyone else around her. O’Hara, who won a Tony Award for her performance in The King and I, made her Met debut in 2014 in Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow. With Mozart’s Così, she’s moving on to a cornerstone of the standard operatic repertoire in a high-profile new production at the Metropolitan Opera—and she’s aware of the stakes. “I feel very lucky—it’s a 20-year dream of mine to work on the operatic stage, especially the Met,” O’Hara says. “But I also feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do to deserve to be here.” Nevertheless, she’s no opera newcomer. “I grew up singing country on a farm, but I went to college for opera and got my degree in opera. And my voice wants to sing opera.” In the end, whether singing opera or musical theater, O’Hara’s goal is to connect with her audience. “Being allowed to walk on the Met stage doesn’t mean the audience will be accepting,” she says. “I want to make sure I not only sing to the best of my ability but that I’m telling the truth of the story as much as I would in a play or musical. My hope is that the audience will find this production to be very special—this Così is definitely something to see.”

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