The Phantom of the Opera Star Raquel Suarez Groen Takes On Seven Questions About Humanizing Carlotta, Singing for ALW, & More
March 30th, 2018
by Josh Ferri
Opera singer Raquel Suarez Groen makes her Broadway debut as the fierce and formidable opera diva Carlotta in New York's most iconic musical The Phantom of the Opera. BroadwayBox caught up with Raquel to hear about how she made the prima donna her own, her years of auditioning for the role, and performing Carlotta in front of the creative team and OG stars for the 30th anniversary.
1. What do you listen to before the show as you are getting in costume? How do you get into Carlotta’s mindset?
I don't listen to anything, to be honest. I like my room to be quiet, so I can have a clear and calm mindset for the performance. I'm already an energetic person—so I don't like too much extra noise. I get into Carlotta's mindset by focusing on what she wants to achieve that evening. Also, because I am a trained opera singer, I get ready the same way I would for an opera performance (which includes specific vocal warm-ups, steaming, vocal rest during the day, etc). So that also gets me into her mindset for Hannibal.
2. What was your first-ever introduction of The Phantom of the Opera?
My first REAL introduction to Phantom was when I saw the show in Las Vegas for my parent's 40th wedding anniversary in 2009. I was completely blown away, and knew in that moment that Carlotta was my dream role! And that chandelier still makes me cry to this day!
3. What’s your dream opera role to sing?
Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata
4. What’s your favorite moment in Phantom? When are you living your best Carlotta life?
My favorite moment is the manager's scene in Act 1 (“Prima Donna”). Carlotta comes into the scene very upset, and the managers of the opera house are trying to calm her down, so that she won't quit her job. Once they have convinced her to stay and to perform the lead in their upcoming opera, Il Muto, Carlotta lives her best life as she struts across the stage singing "Prima Donna, your song shall live again/There's a public that needs you.” Here, I really visualize her fans standing up and cheering for her, which ultimately motivates and convinces her to keep going!
5. What did you do when you found out you were making your Broadway debut in this role?
Carlotta had always been my dream role, so after my third year of auditioning for the role, I was beyond ecstatic! When my manager called me, I was in the subway with almost no reception. I knew exactly why she was calling, so all I could think was "GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR! I NEED TO TALK TO HER!" Once I got above ground and she broke the news, I started to full-on ugly cry (happy tears :)) in the middle of the street.
6. What are the qualities of your Carlotta? How did you make this opera diva your own?
My Carlotta is confident, strong, empathetic, sincere, and fierce. She knows she deserves to be the Prima Donna of the Opera House—and she will not let anyone stand in the way of that. Being an opera singer myself—and having been surrounded by opera singers for most of my life—I know how hard that business is. So, I have full empathy for Carlotta. I make her my own by really putting myself in her shoes. I ask myself, "How would you feel if you worked for something your whole life, and in an instant, someone tries to take that away from you?"
7. What was the highlight of Phantom 30th anniversary? What was it like to perform knowing those luminaries and creators were in the house?
One of the major highlights of the 30th Anniversary was being on stage with so many of the ORIGINAL cast members! That was incredible, and it really felt like an historic moment. As for knowing that the luminaries and creators were in the house...it was a bit nerve-racking, at first (understatement of the year, ha!). As a singer/actor, you want to make sure you honor the work they have created—and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Macintosh and Hal Price are legends—so I really wanted to make sure that my performance honored their masterpiece. I have to say that the audience that night was unlike any other. Everyone was so excited to be there—and there was a really thrilling energy in the house! I wish we could do it all over again!
Don't miss Raquel Suarez Groen as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera at Broadway's Majestic Theatre.