Opera Singer Q&A

M&H Staff

There's no question whether the legendary opera singer Kara Smoot is beautiful - she's stunning. Her voice, if you can believe it, is even more glorious. Kara has her bachelors from Pepperdine University and her masters from the University of Santa Barbara, both prestigious schools in the music realm. Kara now works as a professional opera singer all over the world. If you're interested in the opera scene, you are so welcome for this lovely interview. Meet Kara Smoot!

♫ How'd you get interested in opera?

Since I was very young, I always loved music and singing, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I was introduced to opera. My high school choir directors were working with me to prepare for Texas All-State auditions and they suggested that I look in to studying classical singing. They picked out several art songs for me to learn and suggested some singers to listen to. I rushed home after school and spent hours on YouTube listening to recording after recording, something I still do all the time. Old habits die hard. ;) I fell in love with the art form and immediately knew that this is what I wanted to do.

♩Favorite opera you've seen? Been part of?

That’s a tough one! There is no possible way for me to choose only one, so my top three are Eugene Onegin, Otello, and Turandot.

My favorite opera that I have been part of would be without a doubt La Traviata. I recently debuted as Violetta this past summer in Sicily which was really exciting, especially since Violetta has been my #dreamrole for the longest time.

One of the main reasons why Violetta is such a special and moving character for me is because she is actually based on a real person, Alphonsine Plessis, a country girl from Normandy who fled to Paris to escape from her abusive father and reinvented herself as the beautiful and cultured courtesan, Marie Duplessis. Tragically, she died from tuberculosis when she was only twenty-three. For a woman, especially a nineteenth-century woman, to be so empowered to refuse to settle for the unfair hand that fate had dealt her and to create her own success speaks volumes of her strength and resilience. Duplessis was the inspiration for Marguerite Gautier in Alexander Dumas-Fils’ novel La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias). The novel was later adapted for the stage and was an instant success. Not long after, Verdi set the story to music and to this day, La Traviata is one of the most performed and beloved operas. It’s really powerful to have performed a story that has stood the test of time and continues to move audience members whether they are seeing it for the first or fiftieth time. Going through the journey of interpreting Verdi’s masterfully composed score and immersing myself into the character of Violetta was one of the most incredible musical experiences that I have had so far. Violetta has taught me so much and I can’t wait until I get to sing her again.

♪ How do you deal with nerves?

It’s definitely helpful to have some nervous energy, as you can use it towards your advantage in performance. What keeps me in check is relying on my level of preparation to ease the nerves. As singers who perform live, so many external factors are out of our control. For instance, we can be jet lagged yet expected to sing a rehearsal or performance. We can be feeling under the weather or recovering from an illness. Just this summer, we found out minutes before a performance that a flautist’s flute broke and there wasn’t time to get a replacement before curtain. You have to be able to adapt and stay focused when things beyond your control go wrong. But, despite nerves and unexpected challenges, there is one thing that you are always in control of – your preparation. Whenever I start to feel the nervous jitters, I find comfort in knowing that I did my homework in advance, which allows me to be in the moment and fully committed to the character I am portraying.

♫ Playlist excluding classical?

I have quite the eclectic list! Beyoncé (because Beyoncé), Adele, Sam Smith, Rush, Dio, Queen, Scorpions, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey.

♩Most played song on iTunes?

Cecilia Bartoli’s recording of “Agitata da due venti” from Griselda is my jam. Listen to this and you’ll understand why… ;)

♫ Favorite Bible verse?

Romans 8:31- “If He is for us, who can be against us?”

Although I am so grateful to be able to pursue my dream of becoming an international opera singer, this can be a very tough industry in terms of the extremely competitive nature of this art form and very high level of expectation. It’s easy to feel the pressure from wanting to please and impress your colleagues, director, conductor, audiences, patrons, et cetera; you can feel like you’re constantly being judged and having your talents compared to other singers. Whenever I begin to have doubts about my capabilities as an artist, this verse reminds me that I am God’s daughter and ultimately, His acceptance of who I am is all that truly matters.

♫ Advice for aspiring singers?

The best advice I have is to never give up. Being a singer requires so much discipline and grit in order to make it in a tough business. It can be disheartening to not get invited to an audition or not place in a competition that you worked so hard for but just because some opportunities don’t work out doesn’t mean that something won’t open up for you in the future. Keep working hard and never lose sight of why you sing in the first place.

♫ Favorite life quote?

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

♩How often do you practice each day?

I usually practice around 2 hours. I spend 30-45 minutes working technique and the remainder of the time on repertoire.

♫ You recently returned from performing in Italy. What’s in store for you this season?

I did! It has been great to return to the U.S. and immediately jump back in to rehearsals. In September, I debuted the role of Lady of the Creek in the world premiere of Las Fundaciones with Opera San Antonio. As soon as that production finished, I started rehearsals for Opera SA’s Carmen, which was held at The Tobin Center at the end of October. I’ve performed in several concerts this season with Opera San Antonio and Alamo City Opera and I am currently preparing for upcoming auditions and competitions coming up this winter.

Follow Kara ✌

Facebook- @KaraSmootSoprano /// Insta, Snapchat, Pinterest- @Kara_Smoot /// KaraSmoot.com