The last time opera stars Lise Lindstrom and Greer Grimsley were onstage together in San Diego, she demanded his head on a silver platter.
But the reunion of these “Salome” co-stars and longtime colleagues will be on happier terms Saturday, May 5, when they team up for “One Amazing Night,” a joint concert for San Diego Opera at the Balboa Theatre.
The season-closing recital with the San Diego Symphony will feature a two-act program of opera and operetta arias and duets, musical theater classics and overtures. A few highlights are solos from “The Flying Dutchman” and “Giuditta” and duets from “Tosca,” “The Merry Widow” and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
Because their repertoire has some cross-over, Lindstrom and Grimsley have shared the stage more than once. In San Diego, she was Salome to his John the Baptist (or Jochanaan) in 2012. And in San Francisco, she was Senta to his Dutchman in “The Flying Dutchman” in 2013.
The much-in-demand soprano is world-famous for her Turandot, which she’s performed twice, including this season, in San Diego. Bass-baritone Grimsley is a noted Wagnerian, with two upcoming Ring Cycles — in the central role of Wotan — with San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His last appearance with San Diego Opera was in October as the Pirate King in “The Pirates of Penzance.”
When they’re not traveling, Lindstrom makes her home in San Francisco and Grimsley lives in his native New Orleans with wife and fellow singer Luretta Bybee. For this interview, we asked the duo the same questions, but they answered from different cities on the road.
Q: What do you do to make the road feel like home?
Lise Lindstrom: I like to cook when I’m on the road, and that means figuring out where the market is, where the best produce is, where the best meat is, etc. That also helps me to discover a city. I’ve been very lucky to sing in some amazing foodie cities. Melbourne was one of my favorites with its amazing open-air markets where you can find the best fresh produce, meat, cheese and bread. Everything is delicious and local.
Greer Grimsley: I have few personal items I bring to every job to help me stave off missing my family and home. No matter where you go, it’s still not your home. That said, I have made friends with some wonderful colleagues and it’s always a treat to work together. Also I am naturally curious and love getting to know the various places around the world I go and have been.
Q: What’s your pre-concert warmup routine?
Lindstrom: Typically on a performance day, I like to sing 30 to 45 minutes around mid-day so that I can warm my voice up gently before calling on all my resources for the performance. I try to stay as quiet as possible on the night before a performance. Rarely do I go out and I really try to avoid it if at all possible. The day of a performance I get as much sleep as possible and ease into my day so that I can be in performance mode in the evening or afternoon.
Grimsley: Nothing special, really. I warm up my voice and take a few quiet moments to gather my concentration.
Q: What’s the best and worst part of recital or concert work?
Lindstrom: It feels different for me in that I am not necessarily portraying a specific character in concert work. Instead, I am telling a story as myself. I love being a character, so even in concert work I try to find reasons to say the words that the composer wrote according to some sort of characterization. However, our concert in San Diego is so full of opera and operetta and musical theater that there will be plenty of “character” and drama on stage to keep everyone entertained.
Grimsley: Recital work is so different than performing opera. With opera, you have your characters to get lost in, but with recitals there is the feeling of being naked because it’s just you. (There’s) no scenery or props or costumes. It is such a specialized part of performing and I believe all performers should seek out the opportunity. No matter how big of a venue, it’s always a very intimate experience.
Q: What song are you most excited to sing on Saturday?
Lindstrom: Oh, I honestly have to say that I’m excited about all of them. It will be such a joy to sing so many chestnuts with the beautiful San Diego Symphony led by Maestro Jerome Shannon. And, it’s a chance to really indulge in some of the loveliest love songs ever — all of them a debut for me.
Grimsley: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Some Enchanted Evening” (from “South Pacific”) has special meaning for me.
Q: What’s your favorite opera experience?
Lindstrom: I’m not sure if I have a favorite opera experience, there are so many. Honestly, the joy of standing onstage and singing with all the orchestra and all the chorus and all the many people behind the scenes supporting me, I’d have to say that there’s really nothing better.
Grimsley: Favorite experience? The last 33 years! A more specific example would be getting to sing Wotan in the Ring Cycle for the first time.
Q: What opera role do you covet?
Lindstrom: In the past five years, I’ve added the role Brünnhilde to my repertoire and I am just beyond thrilled to have this epic character and this epic music in my life. What an absolute joy. I’m sure most sopranos that sing Brünnhilde feel that she was made for them, I certainly feel that way. And, at the risk of sounding greedy, all I’d like to do now is add Isolde in Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and Minnie in Puccini’s “La fanciulla del West.” Then I will be pretty darn satisfied.
Grimsley: I have been so fortunate to have gotten to sing the roles I have sung. A couple of roles I would love to sing would be Mephistopheles in Boito’s “Mefistofele” and Hans Sachs in Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.”
Q: What restaurants are on your must-visit list when you’re in San Diego?
Lindstrom: As I mentioned, I’m a big fan of cooking at home when I’m on the road so I actually don’t know too many restaurants in San Diego. However, there is one place that will definitely be on my itinerary, and that’s Salud! in Barrio Logan. Best. Tacos. Ever.
Grimsley: I love Mexican cuisine, and being from New Orleans I love seafood, Is it any wonder I love being in San Diego?
“One Amazing Night” with Lise Lindstrom and Greer Grimsley in concert with the San Diego Symphony
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 5
Where: Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., San Diego
Tickets: $35-$160 (limited availability)
Phone: (619) 533-7000