CLO Associate Artistic Director recently corresponded with cast members from our upcoming production of Tristan und Isolde to ask them some questions about their backgrounds, how they got involved in singing opera, and how they came to work with CLO. This article will feature three of our company members from the production.
Can you share a little bit about your family heritage or origins with us?
My maternal grandparents are from Bougue-Chittoh, Alabama, which is just outside of Selma. My grandfather moved the family up from Alabama to Detroit just before they had my mother. My father is from Detroit and his father had a band that performed mostly in the midwest. I actually still have his guitars! I was excited to trace my family origins all the way back to Ghanaian and Nigerian roots.
How did you originally become interested in singing opera?
I had my first voice lesson in my second semester of college. My teacher eventually said to me, “You could have a career in opera!” Then I saw clips of Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, George Shirley, Paul Robeson, Simon Estes, opera and classical singers who looked like me, making a living and moving people in this art form, THAT told me that I COULD ABSOLUTELY do this, and once I committed I have never looked back!
Do you have any prior experience singing Tristan und Isolde?
This will be my first time singing both the opera and the role.
What do you think is the most interesting part of your journey of working in the operatic art form?
Honestly, it was the times I wanted to quit. The times when I was TIRED of struggling. However, these were also the times when I learned and grew the most as an artist as well as a person. I thank God for pushing me because now I am seeing more people of color on stage who belong on the stage and I am fortunate and blessed to be a part of this “renaissance” of diversity on stage!
How did you become involved with CLO?
My very good friend Chris Lucier who has sung with this company for a few years put me in touch with CLO Artistic Director Sylveen, and he asked me to sing Tristan.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you are excited about?
After Tristan I will be doing a concert in Yellowknife, Canada in December. I made my Metropolitan Opera debut this season singing Mingo in Porgy and Bess, and I sang in all the fall shows and will sing in all the winter shows as well! Next Spring, I will make my Broadway debut singing in Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage (libretto) and Ricky Ian Gordon (music) at Lincoln Center Theater, with Bartlett Sher directing!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Errin.