Yoga is good for soprano Elizabeth Futral's singing

Christian Steiner, courtesy

Elizabeth Futral, one of the world's major coloratura sopranos, is performing in "The Tales of Hoffmann" at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts. She plays all four female lead roles: a mechanical doll, a self-destructive singer, a treacherous courtesan and the diva Stella. To do it all, Futral exercises regularly and eats healthy.

Why do you keep fit?

I try to keep fit mostly for the health benefits, but I'm sure there is a bit of vanity involved. I also know that I have a better chance of singing well when I feel my best, which is when I exercise regularly. I am sure the concentration on deep breathing of yoga is really good for my singing.

How often do you practice yoga?

I try to do yoga every other day for 45 minutes to an hour. I generally do a couple of different yoga videos that are pretty all-inclusive, but I am partial to lunge poses like proud warrior and runner's stretch and lots of the twisting poses … I'm totally hooked.

Do you do any other exercises regularly?

I used to jog but now walk instead to protect my knees. I try to walk briskly four or five times a week for a half hour, sometimes overlapping with yoga. I prefer to walk outside, on the beach or the bayfront while [in South Florida] but will walk on a treadmill if I have to.

I like lifting weights, especially for upper-body tone, when I am in a place with some free weights or at home. I've been irregular lately, but I try for two days a week of upper-body [exercises] and a lower-body routine twice a week.

Is performing onstage exercise?

Yeah, sure. In this show, I'm moving, walking, down on my knees, up. In the first scene, I'm an automated doll so I have to do very mechanical, sharp movements with my hands and legs. But the biggest challenge is I'm wearing a very big costume that weighs 50 to 60 pounds, which really pulls on my waist and hips. I'm pretty sweaty when I come off stage.

Does your family keep fit?

My three sisters and mom and dad all do exercise regularly. My sisters do a variety of things from yoga to speed walking to stair climbing to pedal kayaking and kayaking. My folks mostly do walking and swimming these days.

What's your typical daily diet?

I'm a routine girl so I typically eat cereal with milk for breakfast, occasionally whole-grain pancakes.

I try to have a big salad with some chicken or shrimp or tuna on it every day for one meal. For the other meal, maybe a veggie sandwich or grilled fish with asparagus and red peppers. I try to eat lots of veggies and fish and chicken and whole grains, but the occasional french fry sneaks in now and then!

I don't do a lot of snacking throughout the day, but if I do a big workout, I'll drink a lot of water to fill my stomach. If I need a snack, I'll have a fruit.

I typically drink a lot of water and sometimes iced tea. I drink wine — white wine, because red wine bothers my voice. The next day, I wake up and my voice is really low. But white wine doesn't bother me.