Kate Lindsey continues to redefine what it means to be a bright opera star in the world of modern classical music.
This mezzo-soprano has wowed audiences in theaters around the globe with her “luminous and intelligent singing” and sensational embodiment of each role she takes on. Keep reading to learn more about Kate Lindsey, her incredible career, and her relationship with the company.
Kate grew up as the youngest of three kids in a musical family, so it was only a matter of time before she joined the family trade.
“My sister and brother were always in choir and dancing and singing,” she said. “I basically just wanted to do everything that they were doing, so I got the performing bug quite early., But I was a really, really shy child, so I would do a lot of performing on my own in a dark room somewhere, just for my own enjoyment.”
After a few years of secret solo shows in bedrooms and basements, Kate overcame her stage fright and stepped into the limelight... of her high school chorus. Little did she know that’s where her operatic journey would begin.
“When I was about 15 years old, I was started singing in choir in high school. A friend sitting next to me said that she took voice lessons from this really great teacher she thought I'd get on really well with. She invited me to come along with her one day. As it happened, this teacher only taught classical voice, and at the time, I didn't really know anything about it. I just had a basic experience of classical music through choir and things like that at school. But I didn't know anything about opera, per se. This teacher took me on and started me out with the Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias book.” (It's a classic that so many opera singers start out with.) "She really taught me from scratch and encouraged me to give opera a try.”
She did more than “try.” Kate immersed herself in the classical music world, taking inspiration from some of the greats.
“The first recordings I ever had of an opera singer were of Renée Fleming. I would put those on in my little boom box at home and play those. I was also really struck by Tatiana Troyanos’ recordings. I was really fascinated with her because of the inherent vulnerability that she allowed forth in her performing. You can hear it come through in the voice.”
After completing her degree in music at Indiana University, Kate was accepted into Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Singers program, where her door to the opera world opened.
“Santa Fe's young artist program gave me a really valuable view into the sort of wider world of opera as a profession. I met other singers and young artists from different schools and programs. It opened up an entirely new world for me, which was really key early on in my career.”
Once she finished her time in New Mexico, Kate made the cross-country trek to New York where she trained with the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. All her hard work surely paid off; after a handful of small roles at the Met, she was cast as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro in 2007, when she was fresh out of the program.
“A highlight of my career probably would be when I came out of the young artists program at the Met, they gave me the role of Cherubino. And it was the first season that I was out of the program. It was really quite special, and it meant a lot because it also felt like a vote of confidence and faith from people who had invested in me during those early years.”
After her bows on the Met stage, Kate made her way to the Golden State to perform on ours.
“I first came to LA Opera in 2011. I was singing Zaida in The Turk in Italy. I was there rehearsing in February of 2011. I can't believe it's been exactly 10 years ago now!”
That same season, she starred as Mrs. Noah in the beloved (and free) Cathedral production of Noah’s Flood as part of the company's Connects community programming. And in the 10-year span since then, Kate’s returned to the company’s main stage as Angelina (Cinderella) in La Cenerentola in 2013 and as Nicklausse/Muse in The Tales of Hoffmann in 2017. She would have taken on another role with us in 2020 as Mélisande in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, but COVID-19 had other plans.
“I was supposed to come to Los Angeles again in April 2020 to start rehearsals. I was just finishing up a contract at the Metropolitan Opera in March when things started to obviously get quite serious with the pandemic around the world. We were trying to figure out what to do and where to be, and no one knew what was going to happen. I think the difficulty in the loss of that project was honestly the fact that I was just so excited to be a part of the production with director David McVicar and to come back to Los Angeles.”
Through all that loss, the thing she missed most was the LA Opera community.
“When you've worked with a company several times, there's something so comforting about coming back. You know, when you live a life on the road, not being able to come back to a company with a community of people that you really hold dear is as much of a loss as anything.”
Among those Kate holds dear are two incredibly special members of the company: Marc and Eva Stern. She remembers how welcoming they were when she first arrived in Los Angeles.
“I remember very distinctly Marc coming over and introducing himself and being so warm and welcoming, and saying, ‘You know, please reach out if there’s anything you need.’ And I was thinking, ‘This is a person on the board of the opera who's coming to me and welcoming me in such a warm way.’ And you know, a lot of the time, you never really believe that someone actually means it when they say that. But what I came to find out through all those years is that he and Eva actually absolutely mean it.”
To be named one of the inaugural winners of the Marc and Eva Stern Artist Award is at least some consolation for the missed opportunity to perform with LA Opera, a company that owes so much of its success to the Sterns.
“I think that just sort of shows the beauty of Marc and Eva as a couple and the way they work and how open they are. It's a real gift to have that level of heart open for everyone, and to sort of be like the Mama and Papa of the company in essence. It makes all of us feel really cared for.”