Time for her solo

Kristin Williams

Photo By Stephanie Maynard

Kristin Williams jokes that her first time singing solo was when her grandfather persuaded her to sing in front of her church congregation at age 3. She began singing with Chico State’s Opera Workshop when she was in eighth grade, and she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in musical theater from the University of Redlands and will receive her master’s in vocal performance in June. The accomplished singer and Pleasant Valley High graduate has just been accepted into a prestigious AIMS opera program in Graz, Austria. She will be leaving for Europe shortly after her graduation. For those interested, she will perform her master’s recital at the Bidwell Presbyterian Church on April 26 at 3 p.m. Admission is free, but donations to help pay for her time in Graz will be accepted.

When did you know you wanted a career in music?

It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do it. I remember seeing a production of Oklahoma! at Chico State and I told my mom that I wanted to sing. I started out at the Chico City Light Opera and I learned everything I needed to know about being on the stage.

What role did your mom play in your studies?

My mom always pushed my brother and me. She told us we could do whatever we wanted. I was actually the one who brought up the argument that getting into music is stupid and you can’t make money from it. She said yes I could, I just had to be good enough.

What are your plans for the AIMS Opera?

I studied in Austria in 2004, and I’ve always wanted to go back. I was in Salzburg then. There were 23 of us all staying in this huge house that looked like the castle from Harry Potter. We lived and went to class in the same huge building. I really wanted to go back to get away and make sure I don’t get stuck behind a desk. I think it’s so easy to get out of singing and just sit at a desk job and make money. The program is six weeks long, and I am paying for it. I’m viewing the opera as a bridge between my student and professional life.

What are your plans for your professional life?

I’m looking for a European career. Europe actually subsidizes opera singers, and there are so many opera houses at so many levels all over Europe, whereas the United States just has a couple scattered over the country. I’m hoping to be able to start in a small company with small roles and gradually work my way up.

Are you primarily an opera singer?

Yes. My degree is in musical theater, but I haven’t been keeping up with where musical theater is going. I think my voice and personality are better suited for opera. Opera is more dramatic, and I’ve been getting more out of it than I had been getting out of musical theater. I know there are a lot of stereotypes of the fat lady with horns and old men falling asleep in their seats because it’s so boring, and I think that’s really a shame. I’m hoping to be able to change people’s view of opera with my musical-theater degree. People are losing interest because they see the singers just standing there and not acting out their parts. The stories and themes are so good, there’s nothing there you wouldn’t see on Desperate Housewives or Grey’s Anatomy.

What’s your favorite opera?

Probably Carmen. I love the depth of the opera and Carmen’s character. I love to sing her part just for fun, though I don’t know if my voice suits her. My voice is still changing, so we’ll see. There are others I really like, but that’s my favorite today.