Mezzo Alert (and a soprano, too): LGBT opera singers

LGBT opera blogging may be easy when it comes to the “G” in LGBT, but as far as lesbians, bisexuals and trangender folk are concerned, digging for opera news is a little harder. But thanks to singers Beth Clayton and Patricia Racette, today I have more to blog about than the next “Rosenkavalier” rerun at the local opera house.

Among the search terms that send readers over to this place like the breadcrumbs on Hänsel & Gretel, “LGBT opera signers” doesn’t rank far behind “Jonas Kaufmann gay” (and “Fassbaender gay”, “Tatiana Troyanos – lesbian” and “Kasarova – gay, please please please??”… you get the picture). Of course there are LGBT opera singers, and some of them, like David Daniels, are out.

Working on and off in the industry, of course I see and hear about more cases, but even though my fingers may itch above the keyboard to achieve some more LGBT visibility among opera singers (especially the L component!), there’s a difference between being out during a production, or among your colleagues, and in the press. And as long as someone isn’t out in the press, I won’t do the job for them.

I’ve been through more than one production myself where my stance with the Italo-American macho baritone depended on the fact that my pals from the props departments and the singers who knew me and my girlfriend from the last opening night did NOT let him in on the fact that I am a lesbian.

It’s all the more admirable when lesbian opera singers come out despite the “Ah, you just haven’t slept with me yet, darrrrling, therrre arre no rrrreal lesbians, trrrust me!” comments from the colleagues and the “ah well, it’s not really believable when she is kissing the tenor now…” remarks from the audience they have to put up with.

So kudos to mezzo Beth Clayton and soprano Patricia Racette, who aren’t just out, no, they’re also married. To each other. Thus making the “L” in “LGBT opera folks” a lot bigger and bolder and more glamorous. Besides, they came through on my teenage fantasy of Violetta hooking up with Flora instead of Alfredo in “La Traviata” (there was this one Flora I had a terrible crush on… uh… never mind… )

This morning over coffee, I stumbled across an article on Clayton and Racette on everybody’s favorite “lesbian and bisexual women in the media and entertainment” site,, more noted for its TV & movie than its opera coverage. Well, these days it’s as difficult to find a lesbian character on network TV as it is to find a lesbian opera singer who’s out…

…but in this case, there’s not just one, but two! – The three page entry by Doug Tischler is a nice read, based on an interview with the couple who shares, among others, the Violetta/Flora story and talk about their careers and coming outs and about the difficulties of making traveling schedules coincide. For the full story, click the preview image above.

I have to admit I was a little miffed – no disrespect to Doug Tischler, the article is well written and I am sure he is a perfectly lovable fellow – by the fact (and the irony!) that the first big feature opera article on Afterellen was written by a man. Seen in context of the general association of opera as gay, but as “gay and not necessarily lesbian(since we all know that lesbians are usually working as set assistants and drive the scenery trucks), it is just another of those things that makes this lesbian opera blogger wring her hands (hands with short nails and a silver ring on my thumb, yes!). Finire così? Così?

Note: Dear Afterellen folks, feel free to contact me anytime you want some lesbian opera blogging.

More on Clayton and Racette on their respective websites – don’t miss the galleries…! Next chances to hear Beth Clayton: This week! She stars as “Carmen” April 24th and 26th with Austin Lyric Opera. In September, she’s part of the world premiere of “The Fly” in Los Angeles. To listen to Patricia Racette (more intervies and blogging: try here), stay in L.A.: she’s scheduled for a run of Puccini’s “La Rondine” in June. Folks on the East Coast have to wait until October, but then Racette stars as “Madama Butterfly” for the entire 08/09 MET season. For those far, far away, we can always hope for another MET international HD screening…

…Speaking of which, who’s seeing “Fille du régiment” with Florez and DESSAY this upcoming Saturday?? (unless you’ve taped the fa-bu-lous Covent Garden performance of the same production, which is coming out on DVD this Friday. Dawn French as the Duchess of Krakenthorp steals the show! Well, as much as you can steal a show when there are Florez and Dessay next to you).

12 thoughts on “Mezzo Alert (and a soprano, too): LGBT opera singers”

  1. I saw the Covent Garden production of “La Fille du Régiment” a few months ago (on Arte) and you’re right, Dawn French as the Duchess of Krakenthorp was absolutely fabulous… the greatest


  2. yes, God bless arte. As a French & Saunders worshipper I was on my knees, my nose was VERY close to the TV and I thought, “that couldn’t be her, could it?” …great!


    1. @jcmwee: very happy to see another name on the list! In fact, it’s high time for another post on out singers. Thanks for reminding me!


  3. In Oz there is also the relationship between contralto Judi Connelli and mezzo Susanne Johnson-which they publicly discussed some years ago.


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