Director’s Chair column: Performances from Voigt will enlighten, entertain
Deborah Voigt is so popular that there isn’t enough room in the Vilar Performing Arts Center to host one of her performances … that’s why we’re bringing you two. Each show will have its own style and set list: Voigt will present “Voigt Lessons” — a solo show inspired by her personal story — on Monday, and “An Evening with Deborah Voigt” — her operatic recital — on Wednesday.
Voigt is world-renowned for her star turns at international opera houses and with companies including The Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House and the Vienna State Opera, where she has become well known for her multiple productions as the title role in “Ariadne auf Naxos” (she jokingly refers to her opera career as “Ariadne Inc.”). In addition to her repertoire of traditional operatic arias and songs, the captivating and versatile chanteuse is known for her performances of Broadway show tunes and American standards.
Voigt’s personal story is as enthralling as her celebrated voice. Born in Illinois and trained in Southern California, her career was initially established by a number of wins at various music competitions, which led to her debut at The Metropolitan Opera in 1991. Almost overnight, she became a regular at the famed New York City venue, as well as at a number of other regional opera houses.
‘Little Black dress’
“Voigt is a down-to-earth woman with an ebullient personality who communicates best through her music,” writes Anthony Tommasini, of The New York Times. Vanity Fair goes so far as to commend her “unique combination of exquisite singing and hilarious comic acting.”
In 2004, Voigt became an unintentional champion for women in opera after she was let go from a production at the Royal Opera House for not being able to fit into the “little black dress” costume that was prepared for the role. The firing caused an international outcry in the media, which implored the Royal Opera to not emulate “low culture” tropes of Hollywood’s female body image.
We all have a chance to listen
After concern about her health, however, Voigt underwent gastric bypass surgery, which she has discussed openly, and lost more than 100 pounds. Once the Royal Opera House was under new management, she was rehired as Ariadne, the role she was previously cast to play. With the good will and positive energy of her fans, Voigt bounced back and has become one of the greatest opera sopranos of our time.
In recent history, Voigt has continued to expand her repertoire of roles, performing in such classics as “Alceste,” “Elektra” and “The Flying Dutchman,” while also performing new works at smaller music festivals — including the Aspen Music Festival.
She continues to perform and teach constantly — which is terrific, because when Deborah Voigt is in the room, we all have a chance to listen and learn.
Duncan Horner is the executive director of the Vilar Performing Arts Center. For more information on the Vilar Performing Arts Center, visit http://www.vilarpac.org or call 970-845-TIXS.