CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With shows like ‘The Voice’ and ‘American Idol,’ these days being able to sing can mean big bucks. But you don't often hear a lot about young people singing opera. Charlotte's Opera Carolina is working with teens to try to change that.
Taylor Isaac is one of a handful of Charlotte area teens singing in Opera Carolinas Christmas concert. A junior at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, she started singing in church when she was just seven years old.
“I just remember going on stage and thinking ‘What did I get myself into?’ And I just opened my mouth and ever since then I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
But opera? The 16-year-old sang R&B, show tunes—even country music until last summer when she attended a special music and drama camp put on by Opera Carolina.
“We were doing scales and warming up and Miss Armiter just sat there and said 'You have a god given voice, you need to use it.' I just remember her encouraging me to try something different and not be afraid to do it. I’ve been in love with it ever since,” she said.
Opera star Kristopher Irmiter started the camp and holiday concert two years ago for this very reason--to help find and train young talent like Isaac.
“They’re eyes have been opened to something maybe they've never thought about before,” Armiter said.
“Now I can’t imagine my life without doing a little bit of opera here and there. I just love it,” Isaac added.
“They find out ‘Wow, this maybe is not what I thought it was in terms of a genre of music, and then beyond that, I could do this,’” Armiter noted.
The Opera Carolina folks hope to have another concert with the students in the spring, and pending funding, the Opera Carolina Academy plans to present the 3rd annual Summer Music Drama Workshop in 2012.
This story was created as part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, a consortium of local media dedicated to writing about the arts scene.