Two minutes with Amelia Berry

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With Christmas just around the corner we caught up with Amelia to talk about her about life in New York, her plans for the festive season and The Mikado.

Amelia will play the deliciously self-absorbed Yum-Yum in New Zealand Opera’s summer season of The Mikado. When she's not in New Zealand, home for Amelia is New York, where she fits singing lessons and auditions around her day job in Met Opera's gift store.  

Have you performed any Gilbert and Sullivan works before?

This is actually my first time performing a complete G & S work. When I was an emerging artist I sang ‘Three Little Maids’ with the other two sopranos - probably the only thing we could have ever sung together! But that's my full experience right there. Very limited!

You have a real flair for comedy – when did you discover that side of your performing?

I've always loved performing comedy and I've been lucky enough to have had a number of opportunities to do so these past few years. There's nothing better than laughter, so I get an absolute kick out of it. I took Drama in high school so I suppose that's where I must have got started down that path, but I've always been a bit of an egg (and have the home videos to prove it).

You were in New Zealand for The Magic Flute and Sweeney Todd this year and you’re back again for The Mikado and Carmen next year.  You’re based in New York, so when you’re not performing here, what’s a normal day for Amelia Berry? 

On a normal day in New York I'll get up, have breakfast, go to the gym, and do some singing and cooking before going to work at the Met Opera gift shop until about 11pm. When I'm not working there I'll be nannying, and I'll squeeze in a singing lesson and coaching once a week. 

Where will you be spending Christmas this year?

This year I'll be spending Christmas in New York - it's far too expensive to fly home to NZ during the holidays! My little sister and future brother in law are flying over from Melbourne to stay with me, which I'm super excited about. I'm hosting Christmas lunch for them and all my Kiwi/Aussie holiday orphans so it should be a very happy day! Yes, there will be pavlova.

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas in New York?

The Christmas season in New York is gorgeous. My favourite thing to do is to go to the various Christmas markets. The stalls have everything you could possibly want for thoughtful Christmas gifts and there is also amazing food. The city really goes all out for Christmas and there are lights and decorations everywhere and a special something in the air. It's magical. 

What do you miss about Christmas in New Zealand?

Despite the beauty of the season here, my heart always aches for Christmas back home in NZ. I miss spending the day with my wonderful family and animals, and I miss the unique Kiwi summer Christmas. It's what I grew up with and I'll always feel a little lonely when I'm not there. I'm a summer lover, so Kiwi Christmas always signals the start of my favourite season. If I had a perfect Christmas, I would do the lead up in New York and then fly home to spend the actual day in NZ. Best of both worlds!

There were ashes tipped into the orchestra pit at the Met Opera recently which stopped a performance - were you there when that happened?

I was actually at the Met the day the whole fiasco with the ashes happened. I was working in the store and we suddenly had a huge influx of customers at a very strange time. They were kicked out of the auditorium and nobody knew what was going on. We were running around like crazy trying to get everyone through and all we were told was that someone had sprinkled an unknown powder into the pit. I said "I bet it was human ashes" and everybody thought I was ridiculous. WELL. Next time they can save themselves the investigation because I told them from the very beginning!