The Metropolitan Opera, and Me

I am an opera singer; I exist at the intersection of words, music, movement, and art. My goal is to bring to life the sorrows of women and men who couldn’t exist without me. To create, for a few hours, a living breathing person – with a soundtrack that matches them perfectly.  Career wise, my goal is to sing principal roles at the Metropolitan Opera.

Singers across the country and around the world dream of the Met’s hallowed halls and think about the generations of singers that have come before them and promise themselves that one day it would be theirs. The Met is an abstract goal, it represents what they want. But I was born and raised in the NYC Metro area. For me, the Met isn’t just my goal: the Met is the physical representation of everything I have yet accomplished.

The Met is a giant concrete box filled with all my doubts, and all my fears, and all the things I need to become in order to deserve to sing within its walls. It is the hours I have not put in at the studio. The coachings I need to have and the instruments I don’t play. It’s the music sitting on my piano, waiting for me to learn it, and an archive of reminders that for years before me singers have been doing these roles perfectly; it’s the reminder that Opera doesn’t need me, I need opera.

I need opera because it helps me understand the length and breadth of human emotion in a way I wouldn’t be able to access without it. I need opera because acoustic singing is a visceral, raw experience that you can’t fake with a microphone or an autotuner. There is nothing like being one singer against, a part of, and soaring above an orchestra of more than 100.

Living in the shadow of the Met has given me a difficult tableau to swallow: What I am, vs what I want to be. Living in close proximity to greatness only makes me aspire to be great.It’s helped me develop a good sense of who I am as an artist and made me really analyze what my strengths and weaknesses are.

Having the Met nearby forced me to make choices about myself as a singer, period. I wasn’t given the luxury of dancing around my living room with a tiara, imagining myself as a great diva. There was the Met. I tried to be an avocational singer. There was the Met.  I tried to not be a singer. But there was always the Met, staring me down and daring me to let everything out.

So I remember the Met when I practice, when I go to my day job, as I walk to my coachings. I nod my head in acknowledge that I am small but that that one day I can be great, and I accept that the Met will always be hovering in my peripheral vision, driving me forward, so that one day I earn the right to walk through the doors as a Great Singer in my own right.