Lisette Oropesa has performed in some of Europe's most renowned opera houses, but today's she nervous.
After all, it's different when you start thinking about taking the stage at your alma mater for the first time in more than a decade.
The soprano will perform with the LSU Symphony Orchestra in "A Starry Night with Lisette Oropesa" on Jan. 25 in the LSU Union Theatre. The concert will mark her first appearance at LSU since graduating in 2005.
Then, Oropesa was on her way to graduate school when she participated in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, hoping to gain a little performance experience.
She ended up coming out first among 1,500 singers from across the nation, which opened the door to her international career as an operatic diva.
Now she's heading back to where it all started.
"I come home to Baton Rouge every year, and I've performed at home before, but this will be the first time I've performed at LSU since I graduated," Oropesa said. "And I'm nervous. I'll not only be performing at home but at my university, and I'll be singing with Paul Groves for the first time."
Groves, who lives in New Orleans, is another LSU graduate with a successful international opera career. The tenor has sung with Oropesa's mom, who also performed opera.
LSU professor and baritone Brandon Hendrickson and the LSU A Cappella Choir will round out the night's lineup of singers.
But the spotlight will be on Oropesa, who has spent the past year performing in Madrid's Teatro Real and the Opéra National de Paris.
She sang the part of Marguerite de Valois in the Paris Opera's production of Giacomo Meyerbeer's "Les Huguenots" in October, a role that resulted from her appearance in the Rossini Opera Festival at Pesaro, Italy.
Accolades from Oropesa's festival performance in the lead role of Rossini's lesser known opera, "Adina," won her an invitation to the Paris Opera when the lead dropped out of "Les Huguenots."
"That happens in opera sometimes," Oropesa said. "A colleague dropped out, and I was asked to fill in, and the opportunity was a success for both the opera and me."
Her appearance was so successful that La Scala opera house in Milan, Italy, has asked her to sing the role of Amalia in its new version of Guiseppi Verdi’s "I Masnadieri" this coming June. The theater is known as the opera world's crown jewel, having hosted not only Italy's operatic stars but many of the world's finest singers.
"This will be my La Scala debut," Oropesa said. "I have dreamed of singing in this theater for years, and to have the opportunity to be a part of a new production of an opera by the great maestro Verdi is not only a dream come true, but a blessing beyond measure.”
But first, there's Baton Rouge, where she still owns a house and her mom still lives.
"I usually don't make it home for Christmas because I'm always performing at that time," she said. "But when I finally came home this year, I wanted a white, snowy Christmas, so the whole family went to Colorado. Then we came back here."
Since then, the only trips Oropesa and her husband have made have been to Home Depot to buy supplies for home improvement projects.
"I'll be flying to Santa Monica for a concert right before the LSU concert, but other than that, I'm here until I sing at LSU," Oropesa said. "Carlos Riazuelo, the LSU Symphony's conductor, started talking to me last April about performing with them."
A concert date was set, and Oropesa's LSU voice professor, Robert Grayson, stepped in as producer. Oropesa will sing solos, duets and trios with Groves and Hendrickson and will front the A Cappella Choir.
And though she feels comfortable at home, she wants the performance to be special.
"So, yes, I'm nervous," she said. "I'm going to be singing at home and surrounded by wonderful singers. I want to do well."
A Starry Night with Lisette Oropesa and the LSU Symphony Orchestra
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25.
WHERE: LSU Union Theatre, LSU campus
TICKETS/INFO: $18, $11 for students. (225) 578-5128 or lsu.edu/cmda