Those who believe operatic stardom can be found in anyone with natural talent, a decent work ethic and a large stash of herbal tea might be blindsided—in the best possible way—by what house hold name soprano Deborah Voigt has to say about finding fame.
In “Voigt Lessons,” a performance that’s part recital and part one-woman show, the Metropolitan Opera leading lady reveals all, from her successes to her rock-bottom struggles. The one-night-only performance, part of CU Presents’ 80th-anniversary Artist Series, takes place Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium.
Through refreshingly frank anecdotes, songs and arias, Voigt shares the moving story of her upbringing, her promising young adult years, her tales of love lost and found and, finally, the big break that kicked off her decades long career in the spotlight.
“Voigt is a down-to-earth woman with an ebullient personality who communicates best through her music,” says New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini, who attended the premiere performance of “Voigt Lessons.” “She gives a chatty, witty and sometimes painfully poignant account of her life … weaving in performances of inspirational songs, art songs, show songs and bits of arias … [in] an exuberant performance that drew a rousing ovation from the delighted audience.”
If Voigt’s story is any indication, it takes some near-impossible combination of thick skin, a sense of humor and an unparalleled, powerhouse voice to make it in the intensely competitive world of opera. Today, she’s one of the most recognizable divas: She appears regularly on the world’s biggest stages, is the author of a bestselling memoir and is known internationally for her classic Wagnerian sound. With a singular stage presence, a uniquely beautiful voice and a folksy, relatable personality, she’s managed to inspire millions of music lovers.
It might be hard to believe, then, that the going wasn’t always this good for Voigt. As a child of devout Baptists in Wheeling, Illinois, she knew she could sing but didn’t learn much about opera. She was well into adulthood when she enrolled in the voice program at California State University at Fullerton. In the years ahead, Voigt struggled to fight criticism, find a big break and eradicate emotional instability.
But through it all, Voigt persevered—and to the delight of her fans, today the down-to-earth diva’s voice is stronger and more beautiful than ever.
The Wall Street Journal proclaims, “Not only has her majestic voice made her fans love her, but so has the soprano’s profound feeling for texts and subtleties of musical style, not to mention her genuine sense of humor.”
The Boulder performance takes place Saturday, Feb .18 at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium. A free pre-concert lecture by Associate Professor of Voice Jennifer Bird will be held at 6:45 p.m. across the street from Macky Auditorium in the CU Heritage Center’s Old Main Chapel. In addition, Deborah Voigt gives a free, public master class on Friday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. in Grusin Music Hall.