At what point in your life did you realize you were going to sing opera?
I guess I didn’t know for sure until after I got an agent and even then I kept thinking that there was a chance that being an opera singer might not work out for me. I was fortunate to book a few jobs right away but it was slow going at first so I continued to supplement my income with competitions, which is really a job in itself.
What led you to apply to the McCammon for the 2008 competition?More than anything I was drawn to this competition because of the possibility of work in the future. There are a lot of competitions out there for opera singers but few of them offer the promise of work in the future.
What was your career experience at that point?
I had just signed with my manager of 7 years now, and was in my second year as a young artist with Pittsburgh Opera, but I also had just sung Juliette with Hawaii Opera Theater, so I felt like I was just on the cusp of a transition out of training and into the real world.
Describe your overall experience with the McCammon.
It was very enjoyable because I was really good friends with all of the other competitors so it was like a reunion of sorts. Some of my closest friends are the ones I competed with over my years in competitions. I remember singing Capuletti and Queen of the Night for the semi finals and Ophelia and Cunegonde for the finals.
I remember being really excited for the finals as I heard there would be a large audience so I was happy with the arias the judges selected for me. I remember being really impressed with the set up they had back stage for all the singers and that I had my own dressing room to be crazy in before I had to go out and sing. After I found out I won the female encouragement and audience favorite was reminded that I would also receive reimbursement for travel because I had made the finals. That’s when I turned to mush.
It’s really hard to wrap your mind around “spending money to make money,” as a young person and especially as a young person in a career as precarious as the arts so when you come across a competition that helps with travel and hotel, it’s always a happy surprise.
How did the McCammon help your career?
It might not compute at first when you are on the competition circuit that the judges hearing you (often casting directors, agents, singers etc) will take note of who you are and keep an eye on your career. Six years later I speak from experience when I say that I have received multiple jobs from that one weekend in May 2008 when I sang 4 arias at The McCammon Competition.
What would be your favorite memory from the McCammon?
The audience on the day of the finals was extraordinary. Sometimes these competitions don’t allow an audience to observe, so it’s only you and the judges, but I know I always perform my best when there is an audience. Well the McCammon competition is quite the event in Ft. Worth and I remember that Bass hall was nearly sold out that day, which I think is always the fuel to make some of the best performances.
Would you have any advice for future McCammon contestants?
Bring your cowboy boots. No, just kidding, but really you might want to buy a pair if you’re gonna be in Ft. Worth. My advice for any competition or any performance really is to just “show em what you’ve got.” Competitions are not the time and place to stand in the crook of the piano like you are performing a recital; it’s an opportunity to put on a show and realize that you are competing for prizes and potential future jobs.
You made your Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2010-11 season as the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute. Bring us up to date on your career, and what plans you have for 2014.
Last season I sang Ariel in The Tempest at The Met. The HD performance was made into a DVD ,which just received a Grammy. I also sang my 4th Zerbinetta with Ft. Worth last season and currently I’m singing my 5th Zerbinetta in Virginia. I’m headed to the Met this and next season to sing my first Fiakermilli and Olympia. I’ll be working more in Europe in the coming seasons with Madame Mao, Ariel, another Olympia, and a few operas that are still in the process of being written.