It’s not everyday that you meet a professional opera singer, but it just so happens that I’m married to one. My wife Kathryn performs in recitals, concerts and opera productions around the world. The holiday season is a busy time for a singer, but I managed to squeeze in a few minutes to sing her praises here on our blog.
TL: How did you get into classical singing?
KL: Music has always been a huge part of my life…my grandmother was an opera singer and my mother was a private piano teacher, so there was constantly music in the house. I started out as a pianist, taking lessons from my mom and different teachers in the area, but I was always singing as a kid; I remember riding horseback in the mountains of Montana singing “Somewhere out there.”
TL: What kind of training does it take to be an opera singer?
KL: I took acting classes for 7 years prior to college, so along with piano I had quite a leg up on most students. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Music and a vocal performance certificate from the Eastman School of Music. We took classes in music theory, music history, opera repertory, opera workshops, and both grammar and diction in 4 languages: Italian, German, French and English. I was also fortunate enough to get a lot of performing opportunities on top of the usual student workload.
I still have a breath coach and a few teachers now, it’s a constant development process at this point. With classical voice, you want the most perfectly-toned organic voice that you can produce. It’s finding what’s absolutely perfect for your own voice.
TL: How is your training different from a pop or Broadway singer?
KL: Classical voice training is the only healthy way to train as a singer. Someone who trains correctly can project their voice just as well as an opera singer. There are people who are out there with pretty voices and get lucky to be recognized, but wouldn’t last 2 seconds on an opera stage. In fact some have tried and failed miserably; you can’t hear them without a microphone. A pop singers’ voice can be very one-dimensional.
TL: The holidays are a big time for concerts and classical music, where are you performing this year?
KL: I performed as the soprano soloist in a few holiday concerts with the Greenwich Choral Society earlier this month, and this past weekend I did Handel’s Messiah with the Fairfield County Chorale in Norwalk. I love holiday concerts because I get the feeling it’s a different set of people than the ones that come to regular classical music concerts. You see new faces because more people want to hear classical music at Christmas. So someone who won’t listen to a lick of classical music during the year will actually sit through a three and a half hour performance of the Messiah…they say it “gets them in the mood for the holidays.” My hope is that I can convince those people that only come once a year to come hear a concert in May as well.
TL: What do you like to listen to during the holidays?
KL: My favorite Christmas album is A Dave Brubeck Christmas from 1996, which was actually recorded in Stamford, CT. It’s not like I’m a huge fan of jazz, but I’ve been listening to that one (as well as Vince Guraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas) since I was a kid, so it gets me in the mood; like the Messiah, it’s all about tradition.
As far as television and movies…I really enjoy the old claymation specials like Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. Miracle on 34th Street is a great classic. Since marrying my husband, Christmas is never complete without a few viewings of Home Alone and The Christmas Story. To me Christmas is the best, it’s always been a huge deal in my family.
TL: So what do you want from Santa this year?
KL: Maybe some slippers, and good Connecticut honey for my tea. But my real Christmas wish is already coming true. I get to spend time with my family and I’m meeting my brand new niece Aleah, who was born on November 19th.