Tell us about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into music?
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. I always enjoyed singing, so I joined the Wisconsin Children’s Choir while in Elementary School. I started taking voice lessons in high school and ended up applying to music schools for college. I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (which I miss a lot) and got a Bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance and a Music Education Teaching Certificate. After that, I spent a year at the prestigious Eastman School of Music studying Voice and ultimately graduated from The University of Houston with a Master’s Degree in Voice. I have remained based out of Houston since then singing and maintaining a teaching studio.
What do you like about your character in La Bohème? Are they like you?
Mimi is a character I have wanted to sing since I was 16 years old. I wrote a paper for my high school music class about “Si. Mi chiamano Mimi,” and literally became entranced by the opera. One thing that I find really striking about Mimi is her absolute love for Rodolfo from almost the first moment that they speak. There is never a question of her commitment; he makes the decision to leave when his jealousy/her sickness becomes too much, but she loves him regardless. She also sees the good in everyone. When Musetta enters in Act II, the other characters describe her as a cruel coquette, but Mimi sees that she stills cares for Marcello. That quality of seeing the best of people is something that I greatly admire and strive to emulate (though not always very successfully). I am probably a bit more skeptical of people’s intentions than she is.
What are some of the challenges of the role?
The biggest challenge of learning this role was letting the music speak for itself. Puccini writes such beautiful lines that I am tempted to listen and add extra colors and/or articulations, but he writes so well for the voice that if I sing what is simply on the page, it is infinitely more effective.
Are there any upcoming projects you are particularly excited about?
Besides getting to make my Lakes Area Music Festival debut, I will have the opportunity to reprise Mimi in the spring with Opera Columbus. It is such a gorgeous show, I am thrilled to be part of it as often as possible!
What extra-musical activities do you enjoy?
I enjoy cooking, yoga, and any opportunity to spend time with people that I love.
Why music? What do you think makes opera valuable in today’s world?
Opera is such an amazing fusion of drama with both vocal and orchestral music; there is literally nothing like it. I did not grow up with opera or classical music in our household, but I’ll never forget the first time that I went to an opera. When the full force of the orchestra and singers hit me, I was overwhelmed by the visceral emotion of it all. I have never felt that huge rush anywhere but at the opera.
Tell us something we might not expect about you.
I love scary movies and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.