Opera Idols: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Emily Blair: I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, IL., I did my undergraduate degree at Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music where I studied with Patricia Stiles and my graduate work at Mannes College of Music, where I study with Amy Burton.
OI: Do you have any dream roles?
EB: My top dream role that I’m aching to perform is Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. As a character, I find her so complex and multi-leveled, and the music beautiful.
OI: When did you know you wanted to become an opera singer? Do you come from a musical family?
EB: Growing up, music played an important role in my family. My older sister and my dad played the clarinet, and my mom played piano and sang around the house a lot. My mom also loves opera and classical music and from that love, I was exposed to the world of opera at a young age.
OI: How do you get ready for a performance or audition?
EB: I don’t really have any specific rituals, but I try and stretch before I go on stage/in the audition room.
OI: Do you have a favorite opera, aria or composer? Do you have any 'role models' in the opera world?
EB: It’s so hard to choose a favorite opera! If I had to choose a few favorite composers and operas I would pick Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le Nozze di Figaro, Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and Die Frau Ohne Schatten, Adam’s Nixon in China, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle. I look up to the work of Eleanor Steber, Carol Vaness, Christine Goerke, Joyce DiDonato, Lucia Popp, Renata Scotto and so many more.
OI: What did the experience of participating in the auditions teach you?
EB: Most importantly, it taught me to believe in myself. All young singers face rejection on an almost daily basis, and its very easy to spiral into the rabbit hole of self-doubt. It is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day “grind” of music making, but through this audition, I’ve learned to rework my focus back to the music itself, which should be the most important aspect of this art form.
OI: What advice would you give to someone auditioning next year?
EB: This competition is very prestigious and very “high-stakes,” but it is important to remember that this is another opportunity to have fun sharing your passion with people.