An opera singer in gender transition

An opera singer in gender transition


norman lebrecht

May 11, 2017

Two London events:

Oedipa collaborates with the extraordinary female baritone Lucia Lucas (Wuppertaler Bühnen, Deutsche Oper, Chicago Opera Theatre) on an evening of song in transition: from masc to femme, classical to queer and oppression to freedom. Singing Bizet, Britten, Wagner, Purcell and Adams, flirting with Sarah Vaughan and Rocky Horror, Lucia draws on her experience singing classical repertoire across the world to tell her incredible story and celebrate the fluidity and plurality of gender in opera.

Tickets here.



  • Ungeheuer says:

    No comment

  • Myrtar says:

    Santa Lucia …

  • Una says:

    Exactly, no comment. Whatever you say you’d be criticised so best to keep your mouth shut! No way as a soprano that I’d suddenly want to sing baritone …

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      I don’t understand this comment. There is an important difference between male-to-female transsexuals and female-to-male transsexuals, namely, that when a male transitions to female he retains his male voice, whereas when a female transitions to male she acquires a male voice. This is because the deepening of the male voice that takes place during puberty cannot be reversed. You comment does not make sense because Lucia Lucas has not changed voice type. She has reassigned (if that is now the correct term) her gender, but has continued to sing as a baritone. To achieve a valid comparison you would have to imagine undergoing gender reassignment to become male while retaining a soprano voice (which would not be possible).

  • Holly Golightly says:

    “Fluidity and plurality” of gender? “Body dysphoria” is the correct term.

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      You don’t think that fluidity and plurality of gender exists in opera? What about Der Rosenkavalier, where a woman sings the role of a man who for part of the opera is disguised as a woman? Or Partenope, in which Arsace and Armindo are men who may be sung by men or women, and Rosmira is a woman sung by a woman, but disguised as a man during most of the opera?

    • William Safford says:

      For those who want to learn more about the current level of knowledge of the physiology of the brains of trans people:

    • Steven Holloway says:

      Methinks Holly means ‘dysmorphia’, a misperception of the characteristics of one’s body, as occurs in anorexia, not ‘dysphoria’, which is purely a mood disorder, e.g., depression, agitation, etc. There is no such thing as “body dysphoria”. But even if she’d got the term correct, she’d still be wrong.

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    She should do a Jonas Kaufmann and sing both roles in Das Lied von der Erde.

  • Steve P says:

    Meh…if s/he can sing, fine. I love Cassandra Wilson’s voice, too.

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      Forgive my being a bit thick here, but what’s the connection between Lucia Lucas and Cassandra Wilson?

      • Steve P says:

        Low voice females are nothing to get upset about was what I was aiming at – guess I missed my point.

  • Wai Kit leung says:

    I wonder if this move is going to be career-limiting?

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      No doubt. Sometimes people have to make choices that are in their best interests, not just in the best interests of their career.

  • Alexander says:

    are we supposed to wish her(him) every happiness here ? maybe just enjoy a good health ….

    • Bruce says:

      It’s always kind to wish someone good health.

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      I get the joke, but was it necessary to write “(him)”?

      • Alexander says:

        bring my apologies Mr.Davidson, I’m not a big expert in trans/gender transitions ( or, remembering my personally adorable Opera Chickie, whatevs) …. don’t put smile here taking into account your subtle feelings ….
        P.S. there is no good in any surgeries , just my opinion, of course ….

  • Bruce says:

    A very interesting interview (from nearly 2 years ago). She actually addresses the issues raised by the most dismissive commenters on this thread (so far), Holly and Una.

    “Hormones cannot raise the pitch of a trans woman’s voice. I think many trans women would hope that it would raise their voices, including me, but sadly it does not. So the idea was born that maybe I could be a female baritone.

    Kothner, Monterone, Bitterolf etc. were blueprints for my future. Now they are simply roles I play for the evening. I can actually enjoy playing a man onstage now that I don’t have to play one in real life.

  • Maria says:

    My viola keeps insisting that it’s a violin.

    Who am I to argue?

  • Kate Wilmot says:

    Well in my next life I am most definitely coming back as a helden tenor. There are far too many sopranos!

  • Bruce says:

    If you have the voice for the role, you can sing it.

  • Oedipa says:

    A note from the show’s producer:

    You may be interested to know that the set list for these performances includes

    – Votre Toast (Bizet)
    – Batter My Heart (Adams)
    – Die Frist ist Um (Wagner)
    – Perfidi!… Pietà, rispetto, amore (Verdi)
    – Credo in un Dio crudel (Verdi)

    Lucia has been performing opera her entire adult life, having sung nearly 500 performances over the last 10 years, including 8 years spent as a fest artist in Germany. Opera fans will be aware of the level of technical and expressive skill required to tackle the programme above, which Lucia combines with a further five pieces in the hour-long show.

  • kateWilmot says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Bruce that’s a much better attitude and I will stick to that.

  • Fan says:

    Janet Baker had been singing Julius Caesar until countertenors arrived.