In my latest column where I interview stars from New York productions on what they love about New York, I’m expanding beyond Broadway to the Metropolitan Opera by profiling soprano Ailyn Pérez. I also ask Perez about travel in general.
The glamorous singer stars as Blanche de la Force in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, beginning January 15, and Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, beginning March 12. Get your tickets now while they’re still available.
Where do you currently live?
We love our apartment on W 53rd & 10 Avenue! It’s within a 20 minute walk to Lincoln Center and near so many landmarks of arts, shopping and entertainment that can only be experienced in NYC.
What is your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, and I tend to have explored only limited areas due to my busy work schedule around Lincoln Center.
For me, when I need a dose of great brunch or grabbing a coffee and enjoying nature, I head straight into Central Park and get lost for a while. My favorite jogging path is a few laps around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. My favorite day off would include a great coffee and walking through Central Park from the West Side to the East, to spend time at the Guggenheim and the Met Museum. I still need to pay a visit to the Frick!
SoHo for the long walks and the different architectural landscape that feels more like a neighborhood, which forces the eye to embrace more of what’s in front of you at eye level, rather than looking up at skyscrapers.
Can you share some of your favorite spots near the MET Opera and what makes them so great?
Thankfully, the following places near Lincoln Center offer a range of menus and sophistication that you can choose from, without ever feeling disappointed, because these restaurants are aware of the time constraints for theatre goers. All offer special cocktails and desserts to honor special occasions.
For larger groups, I would recommend Shun Lee West, Cafe Fiorello and Porter House Bar and Grill
For a more relaxed vibe and smaller groups, I think P.J. Clarke’s is always fun.
And for a lounge, cocktails, and music after the opera, if you still want to hear more music or to go dancing, The Empire Hotel rooftop is great!
The best place for a pre-or post-opera meal near any opera houses globally and why. What are the dishes to order?
Near Berlin’s Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the Good Time Restaurant and Ristorante Rosati. I think the most popular restaurant for singers and visitors is Rosati’s, and I would order the carbonara without hesitation just to see them bring the fresh Parmesan slab to the table and watch them coat each noodle of your pasta for you! It’s drool and taste-worthy! There are so many photos of artists on the wall, and it’s just across the street from the opera house. You can’t go wrong!
Then Giovanni’s of Covent Garden in London. You have to eat here if you’re visiting the English National Opera, seeing a West End Show, or visiting Royal Opera House, and you have to meet the owner, Pino! The food, the atmosphere, and the wine are perfect every night.
Can you share your favorite opera houses around the world and why?
The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy has such a special place in my heart for the history and beauty of the theater that are matched by the most warm and receptive audiences and artistic teams. For foodies and lovers of Italian history and culture, going to Napoli is a must, and you must embrace eating, shopping, and singing late into the night, because there is so much happiness in the culture.
What other opera productions are on your radar right now and why?
I am always watching what’s debuting at San Diego Opera, Opera San José (run by the fabulous Shawna Lucey!), Opera Parallèle, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Prototype, to get a feel of new works and new composers for opera in Spanish, or indigenous dialects.
How much time do you currently spend on the road?
Ever since the pandemic halted our work, I have been working as much as possible. I think I actually spend very little time at home at all because our contract periods of engagements range anywhere between four days to two months in the same city.
Can you share your travel essentials?
Sure! We love Briggs and Riley luggage because of their capacity and the lifetime warranty! I would say having great luggage to travel with is very important in my life. Having a couple of gowns in tow, even if I am mainly singing operatic roles, have always been an essential item to pack. You never know if you might have a last minute jump in for a concert, recital, or an opera ball to attend.
I have to have my photography and media equipment with me. During the pandemic, my fiancé took up producing videos and content more seriously, and so I have inherited a lot of great gear. I usually captured my experiences just using my iPhone, but I can now appreciate and enjoy capturing more high resolution shots, as a hobby and to enrich my artistic life by sharing it with the public.
What are your requests when you stay at a hotel or what do you look for when you’re trying to find a hotel to stay at?
I always look for a hotel with a gym or pool and near parks and the theatre. My most favorite hotel is the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, where it’s exactly all of what I could wish for a week-long hotel stay, especially for the summer festival dates! I love going to work and being near enough to the English Garden to jump into the river for a swim, or to have a spa day in.
I usually book AirBnB stays, which have mostly been successful, but never on an instant booking basis! I always like to be within 20 minutes walking to the theater and near a beautiful park and or large body of water. Since most of the time is spent in the theater rehearsing, I like to make sure that I have grocery stores nearby my apartment because I love to cook.
There are a couple of cities, where I have great friends who love to host when I’m in town, and that makes life on the road so much better.