The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one’s personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by the French writer Marcel Proust. At that time, it was popular among English families to answer a list of questions that revealed the tastes and aspirations of the taker.
A similar questionnaire is regularly seen on the back page of Vanity Fair magazine, answered by various celebrities.
This week’s Proust Questionnaire profiles Huldah Niles, a substitute violinist in the Opera Orchestra. “Thanks for thinking of including the orchestra in this!” said Huldah. “We may not be on the stage but we provide the lush colors that support the singers and set the moods.”
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I believe the “lowest depth of misery” to be the belief that one is all alone in the world.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Complete forgiveness of yourself and others.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Spongebob Squarepants is my hero. I think he truly understands the beauty of simple joy and happiness.
Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite painter. I recently read an article that suggests he was color blind and that is why his color palette is so unusual. Whatever the case may be, I always want to be a part of the world he depicts.
Your favorite musician?
Erik Satie is my favorite musician. I love how simple and elegant his music is. It was meant to be background music; to simply be a part of the world, not the focus.
The quality you most admire in a man? The quality you most admire in a woman?
I love people that are truly a part of the present moment. They give you their full attention and you can really connect. Sometimes I feel like we are all so weighed down by our past and planning for the future that we forget stay awake to what is going on around us.
What is your motto?
Love is all there is!
Do you have a website, Facebook fan page, or a Twitter for everyone to follow?
How long have you been involved with opera and what drew you to the art form?
This is my 6th season with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. I’ve always loved the human voice. I think it’s what drew me to the violin as well. I don’t have any vocal skills but my violin helps me come close to having that same warmth and emotion. I’m also drawn to the timelessness of opera. These operas have been watched for centuries and there is always truth to be found in them.
Favorite behind-the-scenes memory…
One of our guest conductors had a false front tooth. During a PERFORMANCE said tooth went flying out of his mouth and landed on a violist’s foot! The best part of the story is that the violist and the rest of the orchestra never missed a beat while trying to stifle our mirth. You would think the conductor would have been so embarrassed he would have found a solution to his problem but no….the tooth popped out a 2nd time at the very next performance!
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