Check out this in-depth Skype interview with esteemed opera coach, collaborative pianist and conductor, Kathleen Kelly as she shares her personal insights and reflections on the classical music field and her experience as a woman over the years.
*we encountered a tiny bit of static due to technical difficulties. The chat with Kathleen Kelly was amazing…………technology as a whole is not always as amazing lol.
Like all areas of the performing arts, the opera industry comes with an incredible amount of allure and a troubling amount of baggage. This is especially true as it relates to gender norms and defining womanhood in the industry. Sopranos are gorgeous damsel’s in distress and mezzos are sultry, yet ballsy women with a cause right???………Depending on who you ask, many things come to mind when describing what it means to be female in opera. Larger than life, highly expressive, beautiful and vocally captivating all describe the woman who’ve become pillars of success in this industry. Still, there’s a dark, messy side of womanhood in opera that hasn’t been fully addressed.
They say if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. I auditioned for the University of Michigan School of Music Theatre & Dance on a trivial weekend in February 2015. This was the fourth of five grad school auditions. I’d flown to Ann Arbor in a cute peacoat and soon found out that this was a horrible, horrible outfit decision. Upon arrival, I was greeted by 15 inches of snow. The school had canceled classes for the first time in years and there was a slight possibility that the audition could be delayed or even rescheduled.
This semester is unique in that I get to make my University of Michigan debut in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This whimsical opera has been such a fun and playful process to be a part of, especially getting to depict Tytania, the fairy queen. Based on the Shakespeare fantasy, this literary classic was turned into an opera in the 60’s under the brilliance of Benjamin Britten and librettist Peter Pears. I remember reading the full play in high school junior english and feeling amazed by the comedic character interactions. It outlines the complicated story of Athenian lovers who’s every day lives collide with the uninhibited world of magic. It begs the question, what would life be like if fantasy became reality and we all acted on impulse?………Both Britten and Shakespeare conclude that it would be entertaining and absurd. Watch this video for a general plot overview.