As I was waiting in the foyer for my Lompoc Music Association holiday concert to begin, I overheard a couple discussing their ticket situation. They had purchased a concert series subscription; however, the husband was not interested in attending my concert. He was trying to give away his ticket to anyone who entered through the double-doors. When the music association’s president looked at them with confusion, the wife attempted to explain, stating that “my husband hates sopranos.” As these words were uttered, the president turned to me with a look of shock and apology and the wife realized that she had just made this statement with the soprano in question in the room. Immediately, she attempted to retract her statement, but I smiled, told the couple that I wasn’t your normal soprano, and convinced the reluctant husband to stick around by promising that I would personally refund his ticket if I couldn’t change his mind.
Walking onto the stage, I mentally dedicated the concert to this man as he sat squirming in his seat and eying the exit. My goal was no longer simply to make it through the concert and perform my best; it was now to change this man’s preconceived notion of what it means to be a soprano. What is it about sopranos that he does not like? Is it the high notes? The vocal timbre? The park-and-bark style of singing? The stereotypical opera singer physique? I had no idea, but I was determined to change his mind. I planted my feet, opened my mouth, and let the music pour from my heart into his.
After the concert, the wife came up to me with tears in her eyes and grabbed a hold of both of my hands. “My husband hates sopranos, but he loved you!” I later came to find out that he had attended the performance of what his wife called a “screechy and emotionally dead” soprano in the past. That one experience caused the man to swear off on all sopranos for 20 years. Later the man came up to me, apologized, and asked me with a twinkle in his eye, “are you sure you’re a soprano?”
Yes, I’m sure.