Deborah Voigt Publishes Candid Memoir, Call Me Debbie; Makes Trio of Opera House Firsts; Launches New WQXR Residency with Carnegie Hall Live in 2014-15
The 2014-15 season sees one of Deborah Voigt’s most personal projects come to fruition, with the HarperCollins publication of her candid, funny, and soul-baring memoir Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva. She also returns to the opera house, reprising her star turn in Francesca Zambello’s Salome for her Dallas Opera debut; making her title role debut in a new staging of The Merry Widow at Michigan Opera Theater; and undertaking the roles of Elisabeth and Venus in Tannhäuser at the Hamburg State Opera – her first time singing both roles in the same production. To launch her new appointment as WQXR’s inaugural Susan W. Rose Artist-in-Residence, Voigt co-hosts the opening-night broadcast of Carnegie Hall Live, joining WQXR host Jeff Spurgeon to present the Berlin Philharmonic, Sir Simon Rattle and Anne-Sophie Mutter live in concert from the New York venue. She herself headlines the season-opening concert of the Las Vegas Philharmonic and season-closing events at both the Pacific Symphony and the USM Symphony, which she joins for “An Evening with Deborah Voigt.” Meanwhile, as returning Artist-in-Residence at the Washington National Opera, the beloved soprano continues mentoring young singers in the company’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program throughout the season.
Call Me Debbie hits bookstores on January 27
In bookstores on January 27, Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva is one of the most electrifying performances of Voigt’s life. In her strikingly honest memoir, she recounts – with characteristic candor, charisma, and wit – her harrowing and ultimately successful private battles to overcome the addictions and self-destructive tendencies that nearly cut short her life. She describes the events that led to her dangerous gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and its shocking aftermath: her substantial weight loss coupled with the “cross addiction” that led to alcoholism and severe depression before she emerged from the darkness to achieve complete sobriety. Voigt also offers fascinating insight into the roles she’s played and the characters she loves – Strauss’s Ariadne and Salome, Puccini’s Minnie, and Wagner’s Sieglinde, Isolde, and Brünnhilde among them. Enriched with hilarious anecdotes and juicy backstage gossip, she paints diverting portraits of the artists with whom she’s worked, her most memorable moments onstage, and the secrets of her singing.
“I never imagined myself becoming a world-famous dramatic soprano who’d share the stages of the biggest opera houses in the world with the most celebrated vocalists of our time,” Voigt explains. “I didn’t yearn to meet presidents, princes, Pavarottis, and Plácidos. As a child, I only knew I loved to sing – I was singing before I was talking.”
Voigt will discuss and read from the book in an extensive promotional tour throughout the month of February (dates/locations TBA).
Already known to Twitter fans as a “Dramatic soprano and down-to-earth Diva,” Voigt was named as one of the top 25 cultural tweeters to follow by the Los Angeles Times. She offered something of a preview of her memoir in her confessional one-woman show, Voigt Lessons; boding well for Call Me Debbie, at its Glimmerglass Festival premiere, the show was pronounced “chatty, witty, and sometimes painfully poignant” (New York Times).
Dallas Opera debut in Salome & title role debut in Merry Widow
Voigt Lessons was developed in collaboration with award-winning playwright Terrence McNally and director Francesca Zambello, with whom the soprano has enjoyed a professional relationship for more than two decades; in fact, it was in Zambello’s production of Salome at Lyric Opera of Chicago that Voigt gave her first performances in the title role. Opera News proclaimed the debut “inarguably a standard-setting one,” and the New York Times agreed; declaring it “a personal and artistic triumph,” Anthony Tommasini confessed: “I have never heard her sing with such fearless intensity.” Now, for her long awaited Dallas Opera debut, Voigt resumes her portrayal of Strauss’s heroine in the same Zambello production, with baritone Greer Grimsley as John the Baptist, tenor Robert Brubaker as Herod, and Evan Rogister leading from the pit (Oct 30–Nov 8). Voigt will also make her first performances as Hanna Glawari, the title character of Lehár’s The Merry Widow, in a new production by Kelly Robinson at Michigan Opera Theater (April 11–19).
Launching Carnegie Hall Live’s season as WQXR’s Inaugural Susan W. Rose Artist-in-Residence
Already beloved as a guest-host on WQXR and a regular host of the Metropolitan Opera’s celebrated “Live in HD” transmissions, Voigt has been chosen to launch WQXR’s Carnegie Hall Live series this season, becoming the first in a series of celebrity hosts that will also include multiple Emmy and Tony Award-winner David Hyde Pierce and New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert. She joins WQXR’s Jeff Spurgeon to co-host the station’s live broadcast of Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night Gala on October 1, when Sir Simon Rattle leads the Berlin Philharmonic and Anne-Sophie Mutter in a program of Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and Bruch. This engagement is Voigt’s first as WQXR’s Artist-in-Residence, a new annual appointment that, over the course of the season, will also feature her as host of the classical station’s new fall series “The Sopranos with Debbie Voigt”; as host and performer at the New York Public Radio Gala (Nov 17); and as co-host of a number of opera events and masterclasses at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR. She is well suited to the role, remaining, as the New York Times observes, “the only diva who might carry on Beverly Sills’ role as ‘opera cheerleader’ in America.”
From Beethoven to Broadway in the concert hall
Voigt appears with three orchestras herself this season. She pairs arias from Die Walküre and Fidelio with showtunes by Gershwin and Kern at the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s season-opening event to mark the official debut of the orchestra’s new music director Donato Cabrera, with whom she previously collaborated in Chicago and San Francisco (Sep 27).
She also headlines the season finale of the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony, which presents “An Evening with Deborah Voigt” on April 25. Led by music director Jay Dean, her program combines Strauss, Wagner, and favorite Broadway selections with the world premiere of the orchestral version of Three American Songs by Ben Moore. The American composer is one Voigt knows personally, and for whose music she feels an especial affinity; her interpretation of his songs may be heard on her bestselling solo Angel/EMI album, All My Heart: Deborah Voigt Sings American Songs, which was named one of the “Best of the Year” by Opera News magazine.
Finally, to close the Pacific Symphony’s season, the soprano sings signature selections from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung under the leadership of Carl St. Clair (June 11–13). The New York Times finds her account of the opera’s final act “blazingly powerful, deeply expressive, and, as always, musically scrupulous,” and the Deutsche Grammophon DVD release of the Met’s full “Ring” cycle, which features her “badass” Brünnhilde (New York Daily News), won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording.
Singing with Kristin and Rufus
As Opera News notes, the soprano “can genuinely cut loose as a Broadway baby,” and this past May she made a special, unannounced guest appearance at Carnegie Hall during a concert by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. After Voigt joined the Tony Award-winner for a medley of songs, interspersing such numbers as “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” with onstage banter that showcased her considerable comedy chops, the New Criterion reported, “They turned out to be a fantastic pair. Two naturals. … The Voigt-Chenoweth act was at least as interesting and delightful as Sills & Burnett or Sills & (Danny) Kaye, or Horne & Cook.” All told, the evening was “a helluva lot of fun. Musically satisfying, too.”
Voigt gave another special guest appearance with a star best known off the opera stage when she debuted recently at the BBC Proms with singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. On the program, Voigt sang two solo arias from Wainwright’s first opera, Prima Donna, as well as “If I Loved You,” a duet from the Broadway classic, Carousel.
Details of Deborah Voigt’s upcoming engagements are provided below, and more information is available at her web site: www.deborahvoigt.com.
Deborah Voigt: 2014-15 engagements and special events
Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Philharmonic / Donato Cabrera
Wagner: “Du bist der Lenz” from Die Walküre
Beethoven: “Abscheulicher” from Fidelio
Kern/Hammerstein: “Why Was I Born?” from Sweet Adeline
Kern/Hammerstein: “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” from Show Boat
Gershwin: “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy and Bess
WQXR/ Carnegie Hall Live: season-opening broadcast (host)
Carnegie Hall Opening Night Gala with Berlin Philharmonic / Sir Simon Rattle
Oct 30; Nov 2, 5 & 8
Dallas Opera / Evan Rogister
Strauss: Salome (title role)
New York Public Radio Annual Gala (host)
Dec 21, 26; Jan 4 & 17
Hamburg State Opera / Bertrand De Billy
Wagner: Tannhäuser (Venus/Elisabeth)
Publication of Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva
Feb (dates TBA)
Washington National Opera
Artist in Residence
April 11, 15, 18 & 19
Michigan Opera Theater
Lehár: The Merry Widow (title role; role debut)
University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra / Jay Dean
Season finale: “An Evening with Deborah Voigt”
Strauss: “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome
Ben Moore: Three American Songs (world premiere of orchestral version)
Works by Wagner and popular Broadway selections
Washington National Opera
Artist in Residence
May 24– June 5
Montreal International Musical Competition (jury member)
Santa Ana, CA
Pacific Symphony Orchestra / Carl St. Clair
Wagner: Selections from Götterdämmerung
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© 21C Media Group, September 2014