Soprano Angela Brown's Long Journey to Stardom
When soprano Angela Brown made her Metropolitan Opera debut in October of 2004, she was hailed by one critic as "the future of opera," and she has continued to live up to her overwhelming critical acclaim.
Angela tells the story of how she went from winning the 1997 National Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions to singing the title role in Aida:
"I actually competed in the Met Council Auditions four times. The fourth time I said to myself, 'Well, they can't hurt my feelings by saying no anymore.' I was walking around with 'no' like he was my man. We were getting along real well... But then 'yes' came along and I threw 'no' out the window!
A lot of people think that once you win the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions that you immediately have performances on the Met stage, but that wasn't the case for me. It wasn't until 2000, when I auditioned again for the main stage, that they offered me understudy roles of Aida and Ariadne.
What happened was this: I went to the first audition and they gave me a callback. Then I went to the second callback, and I remember asking for some water and one of the adjudicators saying, 'If you keep singing like that, sister, you can have anything you want!' So then I had a third callback, and this one was with the big music coach at the Met. I sang through my pieces, and he coached me and fixed things, and then he said, 'Thank you' and started putting away his things, getting ready to go.
So I said to him, 'Excuse me. What does that mean?' in my most humble voice. He replied, 'It was fine, someone will be with you.' I was like, 'But excuse me, what does that mean — because if you hire me, I'll make you proud!' I looked up at him with puppy dog eyes, and he looked down at me and said, 'I think you just might.' And from that audition I wound up covering two seasons at the Met.
During the second season I was covering Aida for a colleague of mine, and she had gotten sick and asked me to cover the Sitzprobe for her (that's the big orchestra rehearsal you have before going into costumes and staging).
Because I was an understudy I had my own cover rehearsal later that day, so needless to say I was spent at the end of the day.
On the train, on my way home that night, something said to me, 'You didn't turn on your phone,' so I turned it on, and it started shaking and jingling, and I picked up the receiver, and all I could hear was my agent hollering, 'Angela, Angela! What did you do? The Met called and offered you two performances and twelve covers for 2004-5 season!' And I was like, 'Thank you, Jesus!' I did a good old gospel shout right there on the train!"
Brown returns to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the role of Amelia in Verdi's Un Ballo en Maschera in the 2007-08 season.
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