The Edge of Music
|Dan Levin||July 22nd 2013|
Kansas City Opera Institute (KCOI) recently played 20 questions with up and coming opera talent, soprano Rachel Black. The revealing interview follows:
To get to know our singers better, we’re playing 20 Questions. We asked each singer the same set of questions – but the answers are as unique as the singers themselves.
1. Rachel Black, what is your role with KCOI this summer?
I am singing in two scenes: Juliette in the final scene of Romeo et Juliette (Gounod) and the Cat Duet (Rossini).
2. When did you start singing? WHY did you start singing?
My first performance was The Little Mermaid in my first grade talent show when I was six. My mom made me fins. It was epic. For me, there is no why do I sing, it just is. From as long as I can remember, singing has been a huge part of my life and has brought me so much fulfillment and happines.
3. What brought you to Kansas City?
My husband and I got burned out on city life in New York and needed some “green” in our lives. I have family here and we made the big decision to move. We love it here and have never looked back!
4. Which singer, classical or otherwise, inspires you the most?
Classically, I have been listening to Angela Gheorghiu a lot recently. She brings warmth, ease, and personality to her singing. She reminds us that these are not just notes on a page, this is music!
5. What is your favorite role? Favorite opera? Favorite composer?
My favorite role is Giulietta, from my favorite opera I Capuleti e i Montecchi. My favorite composer is hands-down Debussy. My husband and I walked down the aisle to Clair de Lune if that is any indication. Mozart is a close second. His requiem rocks. Literally.
6. What role have you never played, but would like to?
Juliette and Giulietta!
7. What is your favorite word? Your least favorite word?
Favorite: Reverberate. Least Favorite: Bored
8. What do you like most about yourself?
I like my persistence and ability to pick myself back up and try again. No matter what, there’s always another show, another role, another audition, another dream, another goal. When I am singing, I am happy. And I will never stop singing.
9. What was your proudest moment?
I think my proudest moment was when I performed Meg Boyd (Damn Yankees) in high school. I worked really hard, especially with a particular group dance number, but when the curtain came up, I felt this immense sense of calm. While I was performing, I of course couldn’t see the audience because of the lighting, except for one shiny face that was glowing – my beaming father!
10. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My failing quest for perfection!! Life is beautiful because it is imperfect.
11. What is your most treasured possession?
My piano back home. It was my sixteenth birthday present and has the richest, most sparkling sound of any piano I’ve heard. I love to go back home and practice!
12. Do you have a “day job”? What is it?
I run an internet marketing business out of my home, specifically Search Engine Marketing.
13. If you weren’t a singer, what would you want to do?
Astronomer, Geologist, or Archaelogist. I know next to nothing about any of those things, but they inspire me nonetheless!
14. What quality do you value most in a friend? In a colleague?
In a friend, the ability to help others and expect nothing in return. In a colleague, trust.
15. What living person do you most admire?
My husband. He is the kindest person I know, always reaching out a hand to help others and standing up for what is right.
16. What talent would you most like to have?
17. What sound or noise do you love? What sound or noise do you hate?
Love: Crickets (must be plural…otherwise that’s annoying). It reminds me of summers back home in Maryland. Hate: Buzzing bees (allergic!!)
18. What is your motto?
Do not fear the truth. The truth is what sets us free.
19. What is the best story you have from your personal or professional life?
I recently “crossed-over” from contemporary popular music back to classical music, but most don’t know why. A couple years ago, I was in Nashville for an audition for NBC’s The Voice. It was a frustrating experience of waiting in line in what felt like a cattle call, for just a few seconds of singing. After the audition, I went to a nursing home to visit my Great Uncle, an extended family member I had never had the opportunity to meet. He had an impressive career as an opera singer and coach. He asked me to sing for him right there in the dining hall of the nursing home. Since he was an opera singer, I decided to sing Oh Quante Volte (completely a capella!). He wept and said it was the most beautiful young voice he had ever heard. After that, his daughter, who is a diction coach at Vanderbilt swept me away to her studio to give me a voice lesson. She asked me to sing both styles for her. She told me if I didn’t make a go for opera now, I was going to miss it. It was then that I knew this was my truth and I have never looked back. My Great Uncle Archie has since passed away, but I am so grateful to him and my cousin for getting me back on path.
20. What is the craziest, most unbelievable thing to have happened to you onstage or in an audition?
A drunk lady walked on to stage with me when I was playing with my band and sat down on the piano bench and attempted to sing with me. I tried to keep going, but I could hardly perform and I finally stopped and said “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the stage.” I have since been teased endlessly about this!! I guess I could have broke the news to her in a better way.
What facts about you would your audience be most surprised to learn?
I love camping, hiking, and kayaking! My husband and I recently bought a tandem kayak and it has been the light of our lives!
If you met someone who had never been to an opera before, what would you say to entice them to go?
Go to an opera, where drunk people won’t storm the stage…most of the time.