The mezzo sings Handel and Ricky Ian Gordon at HGO this season.
by F. Paul Driscoll
MEGAN MIKAILOVNA SAMARIN—a poised, classy singer with an impressively even, supple mezzo-soprano—sings her first Sesto this month in Houston Grand Opera’s revival of Giulio Cesare. Samarin follows that up in November with Carla Mae in the company’s world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s House without a Christmas Tree.
Born and raised in California, Samarin now calls Houston home. “My years in the HGO Studio were priceless. I learned so much about myself as an artist—and as an adult—in this world. I came to the studio at a very young age, right out of Manhattan School of Music in 2014, and was basically pushed onto the main stage at the Wortham Center immediately. That was a little terrifying, because I wanted to be perfect all the time. Then I realized I just needed to let go of that—I learned to accept that we’re all human and every day is different, and it’s okay for your performances to ebb and flow just like your life does.”
Samarin cites her first Olga in HGO’s 2015 Eugene Onegin as “a really important experience—maybe the most important. I’m 100 percent Russian, so I grew up going to Russian church and hearing my grandmother sing the most amazing music. Yevgeny Onegin is a very important story to our culture. I grew up with that story—we all love it so much. I think I had about fifty family members fly out to Houston to come see it. It’s a really important opera for my family—it was my grandfather’s favorite opera. He was obsessed with it and played it for us all the time and talked about it all the time. Singing Olga, and honoring my family in that way, was a big life experience for me. I can’t wait to sing more Russian music.
“Believe it or not, this Giulio Cesare will actually be my first Handel show, which is crazy to think about, considering how much Handel music we mezzos all sing. Sesto’s music is some of the most divine music in the world. It is an honor to sing it—and he is a great character, fantastically written. Sesto really grows up through the course of the show and moves from being a boy to being a man. And I can’t wait to sing the most beautiful duet ever with Stephanie Blythe as Cornelia. Stephanie Blythe! When that is happening, I’m sure I won’t be able to think of anything except, ‘Wow, this is my life!’”