North Texas native to make debut at Metropolitan Opera as bearded circus performer
Mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis grew up in the small North Texas town of Keene.
It can be nerve-wracking for singers to debut at the Metropolitan Opera, the largest performing arts organization in America and one of the most prestigious opera companies in the world. It’s even more challenging if they have less than a week to learn the part.
Such is the case with mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, who grew up in the small North Texas town of Keene. She got a call only six days before the start of rehearsals for the Met’s upcoming production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, asking if she could fill in as Baba the Turk. Because of her experience in contemporary music, Bryce-Davis had the skills to quickly learn the role. “That very short time period makes everything so much more focused,” she says.
Produced only once at the Dallas Opera, in 1983, The Rake’s Progress traces the descent of man-about-town Tom Rakewell. After leaving his fiancée, he marries Baba the Turk, a bearded circus performer. Baba provides comic relief, throwing a tantrum in her first aria, later revealing the poignant side of her character.
“She finds she’s been abandoned and betrayed by her new husband,” Bryce-Davis says. “And she picks herself up, gathers her dignity and decides to go back to the stage, back to her career. It’s actually a really powerful moment, and quite touching.”
In Keene, Bryce-Davis sang in choir at church and school, and played the clarinet, piano and violin. Her mom, a trained singer, studied music education at the University of Texas at Arlington and dragged her daughter to performances around the area.
fter hearing The Phantom of the Opera for the first time, Bryce-Davis explored musicals, later discovering opera. Her first live opera performance was a La bohème at the Dallas Opera, where she has since appeared in the Hart Institute for Women Conductors’ 2019 showcase concert.
Bryce-Davis originally enrolled as a business major at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene. Because of her interest in singing, her mom suggested she take lessons with a former teacher, Soo Hong Kim, at UT Arlington. Kim heard the potential in her voice and encouraged her to pursue music.
“Then I had to have a serious think about it,” Bryce-Davis says. “Being a starving artist was certainly nowhere on the horizon of greatness that I saw ahead as a famous business mogul.”
Kim swore to her that she could have a career as a singer, and so she transferred to the vocal performance program at UT Arlington. She went on to graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music, before embarking on an international career, mainly focused in Europe.
“It’s wonderful to make music there,” she says. “There’s a lot of adventurous programming, and I’m welcomed in so many countries. But there’s nothing like doing what you love in your home country.”
DetailsAudio from the first performance on May 30 will be livestreamed at metopera.org. Both the May 30 and June 11 performances will also be available via Met Opera Radio on SiriuxXM Channel 355.
SOURCE- Dallas Morning News
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