Where did you first develop your love of singing? of opera?
I’ve had a love of singing since I was very young. I was in church and school choirs growing up, and always found myself performing in various places in my house, whether singing like Ethel Merman in the bathroom or performing New Kids dance routines in my garage with my three brothers.
Classical singing didn’t come into the picture until the last few years in high school. Most Texas school pride themselves in their very competitive choral programs. After singing and doing well in a few of the district and regional competitions that take place every year, I started taking lessons from my choral director’s wife. I ended up accepting a scholarship to Louisiana State where, because there was a lack of mezzos, I was cast as Mum in Albert Herring as a sophomore.
Up until this point, most of my public singing experiences had been choral. Finally being able to be on stage, and act as someone else while using my own instrument was completely exhilarating. I was hooked.
Where did you train and/or go to school?
I started my studies at Louisiana State University. After graduating, I went home to Houston where I accepted a scholarship to study at the University of Houston Moores School of Music. I graduated from there and found myself in a very common place for a young mezzo-soprano: auditioning and being asked, “Have you ever thought about switching upward to soprano?”
I decided after hearing this from almost every person for whom I was singing professionally to ‘switch’ voice types. I went to New York to find a teacher, but was then accepted as a mezzo into the Virginia Opera’s resident artist program. I then entered the Academy of Vocal Arts, where my real training began.
Tell me about the character you play in this opera.
Marguerite is young, innocent, impressionable woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. Everything that happens to her affects her deeply, and she shows it unknowingly. In the beginning of the opera, we see a girl who is emotionally raw. She’s experienced pain and sorrow from the loss of her mother and sister, but these situations are her reality. Her brother is going off to war, and she knows that she is alone in the world. She’s accepted this though, and goes on living her simple life.
There’s a certain vulnerability to her being because of this. She’s a simple-hearted, emotionally open person, which makes her transformation throughout the opera even more heartbreaking.
What’s the most challenging thing for you about performing this particular opera?
Finding my own vulnerability and allowing others to witness it on stage. We spend most of our waking hours trying to ‘keep it together’, and then to be asked to break down all those barriers on stage is a real challenge. This can sometimes be a very scary process. But, ultimately, it’s always a rewarding one!
What’s the most rewarding thing about performing this role?
I’m growing and learning immensely working with our conductor, Richard Buckley, and my incredibly talented colleagues.
In this opera, Faust sells his soul to the devil for renewed youth and a second chance at love. Is there anything you would sell your soul for?
My fiance and I have been living in Germany since August, and after going 9 months with out Tex-Mex and Shipley’s donuts, I’m thinking that’s the answer! Wow, it feels good to be back in Texas!