Opera Star Kate Lindsey Plays Romeo in a Cross-Gender Role

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Opera Star Kate Lindsey Plays Romeo in a Cross-Gender Role

By Michelle Lu

Kate Lindsey in Les Noces de Figaro, Opera de Lille (Photo courtesy of katelindsey.com)

Kate Lindsey in Les Noces de Figaro, Opera de Lille (Photo courtesy of katelindsey.com)

At first glance, Kate Lindsey—a rising star in the opera world—appears to be what you would expect of an opera singer: gorgeous, feminine, and poised. In 2012, she was featured in Vogue Magazine as an up and coming opera singer.

As we get to know her, we discover that she often plays “trouser roles,” or roles written for men, performed by women. In the 17th century female and male characters alike were often played by castrati (teenage boys who were castrated in order to maintain their higher vocal ranges). This practice was banned in the 18th century, and women have since taken on these roles, making it an operatic tradition.

Sunday, September 28, Lindsey will be performing the role of Romeo in Vincenzo Bellini’s Capuleti e i Montecchi, an Italian rendition of Romeo and Juliet. Having played many male roles in the world’s leading opera houses, Lindsey has developed a talent for transforming into a man on stage.

In real life, Lindsey identifies as being heterosexual, but happily embraces her inner male. Operas all have steamy love scenes with plenty of displays of affection, cuddling, and kissing. How does a straight woman play a man and convincingly captivate the audience by the beauty of the romance?

“I know what feels nice and how I would like to be touched. I can express that with my partner on stage. It’s really about fulfilling the need to be more intimate, which happens in any relationship,” says Lindsey.

Kate Lindsey

Kate Lindsey (Photo: Kohler)

As a child, she was a bit of a tomboy and a die-hard soccer player. Unfortunately, she tore her ACL as a teenager, which ended her burgeoning soccer career. She subsequently auditioned for the school musical, which was her segue into music and singing. She found a good group of friends who were friendly, open, and talented, which hooked her to theater and the arts.

Lindsey is extremely supportive of the LGBTQ community and the notion of finding a partner who is supportive and giving, regardless of gender. She attributes some of her abilities of acting male roles to being a tomboy and hanging out with a lot of boys growing up.

“We all have masculine and feminine traits. Culture has delineated how we should act. But it’s not about sexuality or gender identity. For me, it’s allowing my inner masculine to emerge when the moment calls for it,” explains Lindsey.

As an adult she gives a lot of thought to gender and being true to one’s actual emotions. “A few years ago, I didn’t have the depth of understanding regarding the yin and yang, which rests within all of us,” says Lindsey. “Now that I know I can access and utilize the balance of my masculine and feminine, I feel liberated, not as a woman or man, but rather as a human being who doesn’t need a set of black and white rules to define her or anyone else.”

As an artist, Lindsey has always been ambitious, and not necessarily for material things. “What excites me is being able to work at a certain level in a space with sensitive and dedicated people. Working with talented directors, conductors, and musicians that push you to go even further can be really inspiring,” says Lindsey.

A native of Richmond, VA, Lindsey holds a Bachelor of Music Degree with Distinction from Indiana University, and she is also a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. She has received many awards along her journey, including the George London Award and Seattle Opera’s “Artist of the Year” Award. In recent years she has appeared in many of the world’s leading opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival.

Lindsey will be joining the Washington Concert Opera Sunday, September 28 in Bellini’s Capuleti e i Montecchi. A pre-performance lecture at 5:00 p.m. is free for all ticket holders. The performance begins at 6:00 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets,visit: www.concertopera.org and www.katelindsey.com.

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