If there is one thing that Jasmine Presson is, it’s that she is driven. Throughout the years I’ve known her, Jasmine has always proven to everyone that she’ll do exactly what she wants to do and be damn good at it. This is most likely the reason why in 2006 she ended up playing one of the starring roles in the Too Much Coffee Man Opera – yes, an adaptation of the comic of the same name. A operatic soprano, Jasmine has spent precious and grueling hours perfecting her voice and art. Aside from her artistic endeavors, she is also a devoted partner in a long-term relationship, a career-minded woman, and a dedicated foodie and gastronomic glutton – perfectly the reasons why we get along so well!

The Too Much Coffee Man Opera: The Refill opened in Portland, Oregon’s Brunish Hall this past weekend with performances continuing through April 20th.

Thanks go to Jasmine for finding time in her extremely full schedule to answer my questions.

Jasmine1. Obviously, considering you play a major role in the Too Much Coffee Man Opera, you are an accomplished singer. How did you decide to conquer opera instead of, say, just pop songs. Why no American Idol for you?

Jasmine Presson: I’ve never really had a talent for singing pop songs. In fact, being so mediocre at singing along with the radio is what’s largely responsible for it taking me until my mid-20′s to start my studies as a singer! I have found a good teacher and have mastered solid singing technique as an opera singer, and just recently have I gotten to a place where I would consider singing for different styles, such as pop or jazz or musical theater. Not that I’m saying everyone has to learn to sing classical music before they can sing pop music — it’s just that, for me, I’ve only now found a teacher who is teaching a technique that is a good, solid technique that can be applied to any singing style.

2. When your production first got off the ground in 2006, was it easy to put yourself in the zone where you could perform in front of what could have been many people? How do you overcome that?

Jasmine: I’ve actually never had a problem performing or speaking for big audiences. In fact, the bigger the better! Being a part of an audience can be very powerful — to be sharing a collective experience with a group of strangers like that — and being the performer is even more intense and energizing since you are simultaneously sharing the experience with the audience and creating the experience that they are sharing with each other. Auditions and competitions, however, freak me out. I’m still working to overcome my “stage fright” when it comes to auditions — I try to tell myself that the auditioners/judges are just a small audience wanting to be entertained (rather than letting myself get sucked into thinking of them as people who are there for the sole purpose of evaluating and judging me).

3. When the TMCM opera made it to Comic-Con last July, were you surprised? How did the audience respond as opposed to your audiences in Portland?

Jasmine: The TMCM opera is, so far as we know, the first opera based on a comic. Therefore, it wasn’t a big surprise that we could get a stage at Comic-Con…but lack of surprise didn’t change the fact that it was an incredible honor. In talking to people, it seems that Comic Con is “the holy grail for geeks” (as my brother-in-law put it). Since much of the audience for the TMCM opera in Portland was the comic community and fans of TMCM (from all over the country!), our audience has never been a typical opera audience. That said, I got the feeling that the Comic Con audience connected more with my character’s desire to be a superhero while the Portland audience connected more with her disgruntled life as a barista. Or maybe I’m just projecting that on them.

4. Aside from being an opera singer, you are a career-minded woman all the while holding down a relationship and extracurriculars such as cooking – and, in true Portland fashion, you have a dog. Do you find that making time for all this is daunting? You’re so regular, yet extraordinary in your pursuits. It seems like you should be falling apart.

Jasmine: I’m lucky to have a partner who is often similarly ambitious, so we’re simply busy people. Our social lives and our time spent together are what we sacrifice, which does make it difficult to develop a deep or wide social network while balancing so many “careers” (day jobs, my opera, her football). It does suck to be constantly “missing” your partner even though you sleep in the same bed every night, but on the other hand, spending so little time together means you don’t get sick of each other and you really appreciate and enjoy the time you do have together. As for the dog, she comes in just under 8 lbs, so she’s more like having another cat than like having a dog Portland-style. :)

5. What are you aiming for in the future? What can we all expect from Jasmine Presson, artiste, in the next few years?

Jasmine: In the next couple years, I hope to complete a Masters of Music. From there, the idea is to get work as a singer, or get an Artist’s Diploma (a post-Masters grad degree) or get into one of the Young Artist programs (incredible apprentice singer/training programs) with a major opera house in the US. Or perhaps go to Europe to sing if things aren’t panning out in the US. For now though, I’m just concentrating on getting into grad school!