Reporting from: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and various places around the world
Local Contact: Leah Partridge
Tell us about your passion for inspiration, and how you express that as an opera singer?
I feel art teaches us that we are not alone. By connecting through our similarities we begin a dialogue and our collective love for art unites us and breaks down walls that divide. People from all different walks of life are connected through art. The wonderful aspect of opera is that it combines all the major art forms and presents them at once. First, there is the glorious music, then the poignant words, followed by the visual aspect of set design and costume design, make-up and wig design. There is dancing and acting. All of these wonderful artistic expressions happen at a high level all at once to express the greatest joys and tragedies in the human palette of emotion. Through that grand gesture, people connect and people have an outlet to feel. It is a very old art form and in ways I feel it connects us to the past as well as teaches us to look forward.
My personal passion is to express myself truthfully through interesting, timeless characters by using my voice, which is trained to sing unamplified over a 50 piece orchestra. Opera has been around for hundreds of years and I believe through this collective desire to express, opera will always thrive.
I have been extremely fortunate to travel the world singing opera. I grew up in a small town in Georgia and was lovingly protected from the outside world. I am greatly inspired when I travel to see that people from all regions of the world love the same. People are generally good and I have been fortunate to be a part of the kindness of countless strangers along the way. I work with new people every six to eight weeks. We meet and put together an opera and I am always inspired by the shared desire to express with music and other art forms, the human emotional journeys. It is a need by all of us, not just now in this time, but it has been since the dawn of time for people to gather together and express what makes us human.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn more about opera?
We are fortunate in the United States to have nearly 200 opera houses. If you are interested in learning more about opera I would suggest going to see a show! Since opera is often in a foreign language and sometimes has intricate and twisting plot lines, it is best to familiarize yourself with the story line before you arrive or to attend the informational lecture before the curtain.
Opera is an art form that is best enjoyed if you participate. That is exciting!! Educate yourself with the composer and perhaps try to find out who may be designing or directing the production. Google is a wonderful tool to help you get involved with the intricate details of this highly stylized drama. I always enjoy knowing when a piece was written so I can better understand the political indications of that time and how it may have influenced the composer and librettist (person who writes the words.) Opera was often the place for artists to comment on political and social changes occurring at that time. I like thinking what it must have been like for people in Mozart’s day to sit and see the humiliation of the Count in the Marriage of Figaro or to listen to Verdi’s Nabucco and long for the Italian Risorgimento. Opera isn’t meant to be a fluffy cotton candy, mindless night in the theater. It is meant to include you, provoke you, and inspire you.It may, if you allow it, change you.
Leah Partridge is an American Opera Singer traveling the world singing opera and classical music. “My goal is to promote art because social change begins with opportunities for expression and creativity.” www.leahpartridge.com
Christine Mason Miller is a writer and mixed-media artist who loves to travel, wander and explore, whether on her own or vicariously through others. Her latest book – Desire to Inspire: Using Creative Passion to Transform the World – is now available on Amazon.com and at bookstores everywhere. Visit her at www.christinemasonmiller.com.