What made you decide on a career in the arts? Love of music and a bit of naiveté regarding the challenges of a music career.
How long have you been working with opera? I became a core member in 2001 and subbed a few years before that.
What do you think makes Minnesota Opera unique from other companies? From my view “inside the pit”, I see an energetic and positive-minded orchestra that really enjoys working together. Excellent players, with a dash of Minnesota Nice! Beyond my chair, I see a very creative and thriving company which is capturing the attention of opera lovers around the world with its productions. Top-notch stuff.
What is your favorite Twin Cities destination? Any of the trails, in all seasons!
If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring three things, what would they be? Too hard!
What has been the most challenging piece you have worked on and why? Several years ago, MN Opera did Der Rosenkavalier, and I think every player would agree that performing that piece is like running a marathon. Page after page of incredible (and incredibly hard!) music. That was before they enlarged the Ordway pit and such a large orchestra made for some tight quarters.
How has music changed your life? I’m happy. I think I have the greatest job in the world.
If you had to choose a different field of work, what would you choose? When I was a kid, I wanted to be a train engineer or a teacher. This late in the game, the railroad career seems unlikely.
What is your favorite thing about Minnesota? The seasons! I wouldn’t feel right living where I don’t have the rhythm of the seasons flowing around me.
Is there any “haute” backstage gossip you would like to share from this or previous performances? When the first act of an opera is going to run longer that 1 ½ hours, most players think carefully about how many liquids they consume before heading into battle.
What are your top three favorite operas? Turandot, Tosca (yea, I’m a sucker for Puccini) and Der Rosenkavalier. Only three? I forgot Mozart!
Have you ever had hot dish, and if so what is your favorite variety? I grew up in Minnesota – I’ve had it all and like it. Especially the tater-tot variety.
How do you eat your eggs? Not with pleasure. Scrambled, if I have to.
What do you typically order when you go out for coffee? Coffee, black.
Besides opera, do you have any other favorite genres of music? What are some of your favorite artists from that genre? When I go out to concerts, it’s rarely classical. Bluegrass, blues, folk, rock. We catch Davina & the Vagabonds locally, when we can.
Name your top five favorite movies. The Shawshank Redemption, Sound of Music, Dirty Harry, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and for sheer, classic stupidity, Caddyshack!
Are you really as scandalous as they say you are? Who’s been talkin’??
Where do you get your news? A good old-fashioned newspaper, every day.
Do you have Twitter, a Facebook page or website fans can follow? Fans?! Facebook.
Do you speak any languages besides English? What are they? Deutsch, naturlich!
One a scale of 1-10, 10 high, how foxy is James Valenti? Geez, that’s kind of personal…
What do you like to do when you aren’t busy creating great opera? I teach bassoon, have a reed-making business, and perform elsewhere in the area. When I’m not working, my family keeps me busy. We enjoy winter sports and go up north a lot in the summer. I also sit on the board as serve as VP of the local historical society. My husband and I come from early Minnesota pioneer families and find the history fascinating and worth preserving.